Romain Attanasio

Romain Attanasio
  1. Nationalité : Français
  2. Date de naissance : 26 juin 1977
  3. Partenaire : Skipper professionnel depuis 25 ans

Bitten by the sailing bug from a very early age, there was nothing to suggest that Romain Attanasio would become a sailor.

Originating from the Haute-Alpes region in the Alps of eastern France, Romain was born into a family of top-level skiers, his career all mapped out for him. Romain Attanasio had other plans however.

Accustomed to spending weeks on end beside the sea at his great-uncle’s house for the holidays, Romain was very young when he first got into sailing, aboard a Poker, a small family cruiser dating back to the seventies, exploring the idyllic islands around Brittany from Houat to Hoëdic and Belle-Ile-en-mer, as well as the Gulf of Morbihan.

His passion for sailing was in his blood by then! Keen to take it further, he joined a local sailing dinghy club before managing to integrate a special course for athletically gifted pupils in La Baule on France’s Atlantic coast sailing a Laser. There he hit upon a real talent for round the cans racing. Eager to develop this further, he succeeded in putting together a campaign for the Mini 6.50 programme, otherwise known as ‘offshore racing nursery school’. For his first transatlantic experience, the Mini Transat, in 1999, which is a singlehanded transatlantic race on 6.50 m sailing boats, a massive storm rocked the Bay of Biscay. His boat capsized. Rescued at the last minute by a cargo ship, he was repatriated to Spain and then France: he landed in Orly, Paris, with no change of clothes, no papers and no money…

It’s an anecdote he won’t forget any time soon, but it didn’t put him off continuing in his career as a sailor, quite the contrary in fact.

Equipped with a competitor’s energy and mentality, he appealed to his then business partner who, given his exciting start in the Mini-Transat, gave him the necessary funding to continue his campaign. At that point, Romain joined the Pôle Finistère de Port La Forêt, a local training cluster and the fast track for singlehanded skippers. There he became one of the series’ mainstays and a safe bet, racking up excellent results in La Solitaire du Figaro as well as the Transat AG2R. His career as a skipper was up and running and linked fairly naturally onto the next episode.

Having raced in the Class Figaro for ten years or so and sailed alongside the top names in the multihull world (Michel DESJOYEAUX on the trimaran Géant and Franck CAMMAS on the trimaran Groupama), Romain felt that the time had come to take part in the Vendée Globe. After participating in the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2015 with Louis Burton, he signed up and on 15 January 2016 he purchased…

After participating in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2015 with Louis Burton,

Romain felt that the time had come to take part in the Vendée Globe. He signed up to a project of human proportions and on 15 January 2016 he purchased Tanguy De Lamotte‘s Initiatives-Cœur, a legendary Vendée Globe boat originally built for Catherine Chabaud.

Originally built for Catherine Chabaud, she was an incredible boat! In 2016 she was a very old boat, but my goal was not about my ranking in the Vendée Globe. I wanted to sail singlehanded around the world. I wanted to understand why Samantha (Davies – his ex-life partner) came back different from her circumnavigation.

Explains Romain

With regards to budget, Romain and his team call upon business partners of all sizes. Two French family businesses, Famille Mary et Etamine du Lys step up as title sponsors, the rest of the funding being provided by smaller companies grouped together within the Club Sixième Océan. The sponsors unite around the race and around a project geared towards reducing plastic waste in the oceans. 

On 6 November 2016 at 12:02 UTC, Romain took the start of his first solo, unassisted, non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. He completed the race around the world on 24 February 2017 in fifteenth place after 109 days, 22 hours and 4 minutes at sea having endured a sizeable amount of technical issues along the way: breakage of his rudders, 4-day repairs in Cape Town, boom damage, broken daggerboard… “I knew the Vendée would be tough but not to this extent!” explained Romain during a radio link-up.

Armed with this experience and having only just set foot on land again, he has a real urge to take the start of the following edition. For his second Vendée Globe, Romain’s sports project ramps up a notch with the arrival of sponsor Best Western and it’s aboard a 13-year-old Farr design that he sets sail on 8 November 2020 at 13:20 UTC. In the throes of the Covid pandemic, the passage along Les Sables d’Olonne’s channel to the open ocean is rather special, yet the  skipper of the Imoca Pure – Best Western retains his enthusiasm, spontaneity and simplicity from start to finish, coming full circle on 6 February 2021 at 16 hours 06 minutes and 02 seconds UTC. 

Throughout his second participation, Romain confirms that “the Vendée Globe is 80% problems and 20% crazy” whilst simultaneously finding his recipe to happiness at sea. 

Day in day out, he gives a very humorous, self-mocking account of his race, which constantly puts into perspective his many daily problems, as if to say: “I’ve chosen to be here. It’s intense, it’s tough, but I fully accept the consequences.

Since looping the loop in this second circumnavigation of the globe, the project has welcomed another new partner in the form of Fortinet, as well as switching steeds through the purchase of a foiler. For his 3rd Vendée Globe campaign, Romain has set his sights on a top 10, so his primary focus in the meantime will be on preparing himself and his boat and securing qualification. To achieve this, the Fortinet – Best Western monohull will participate in Class Imoca’s qualifying races, together with the major offshore racing classics, namely the Route du Rhum and the Transat Jacques Vabre

Watching the skippers sail over the horizon as a child, he too has managed to complete two Vendée Globes in 2016 and 2020.
Le skipper Romain Attanasio célébrant avec des feux à main lors de son arrivée du Vendee Globe, le 6 Février 2021. (Photo Jean-Marie Liot/Alea)