As many will know and it has been published by various national newspapers (and also shared on RIWmag's Facebook page), the 31 December 2019 A Tunisian boy would make the Tunisia-Pantelleria crossing in windsurfing (about 38 nautical miles).
Officially, it is not’ whether the young North African has faced this feat driven by sporting ambitions or need’ Migratory, still being obscure some points of the story.
Expressly wanting to remain unrelated to any exploitation and discussion on the subject of immigration, since they don't compete with us, In this article we at RIWmag would like to focus instead and analyze the numbers that characterize this sporting enterprise to understand concretely what are the parameters necessary to make such a crossing and what range are.
That's why we turned to a keen connoisseur of the sport of windsurfing and many of the Sicilian commercials, Giuseppe Scire' Scappuzzo ITA-50, we thank for its detailed and exhaustive presentation:
Crossings and long distance, sicule and not.
"A dutiful premise to properly frame the story (that somehow recalls the crossings of some Cuban windsurfers to Florida in recent decades) is that the emphasis of the news that has appeared on some newspapers should be re-modulated in the light of numerous historical data and technical considerations. The search for sources and some checks was more challenging than expected. I thank in advance those who wanted to integrate them, apologizing for any omissions.
The Pantelleria-Kelibia 38 nautical miles "theoretical" (in the reverse path compared to the one followed by the young Tunisian Hamza Elawra) and other classic long distance crossings and long distances such as the Pozzallo-Malta (52 Mn / nautical miles), Ragusa-Malta Navy (55 Mn) and various crossings of the Strait of Messina (up to 14 mn round trip), in fact they were faced already in the 80s and 90s and in more recent times by Sicilian surfers and Italian and foreign athletes of international caliber and also Olympic, with the organization of Sicilian Sailing Clubs and the Royal Yachting Club of Malta (we remember the great organizer Roland Darmanin Kissaun and the journalist Wilfred Sultana) and the support of Bank of Malta and the old Bank of Sicily.
Raceboards were initially used (volume sheets Division 2, Windglider etc), Formula Windsurfing boards and slaloms (85 cm for the Sicilian canal, 75-85 cm generally for the Strait of Messina). The ideal conditions for crossing the Sicilian canal are with the west and the mistral (to be more precise with winds from the western quadrants in the SW-W-NW range) Tunisia-Sicilia and Sicily-Malta or Malta-Sicilia route, while some Maltese surfers have travelled the reverse route quickly even with the syrup. It should also be added that the dominant current in the Sicilian Channel is from west to east and can be of significant magnitude. As for the Strait of Messina, the relentless and strong summer thermal from NE has "cheered" over the years the toils of so many athletes and amateurs, both in competitive crossings and in normal training sessions. We remember the crossing of the Strait of 2008 (Reggio Calabria Lido – Tremestieri/Military Marina 14 nautical miles but purely "theoretical" for the very challenging conditions given the strong current often of wind-avers direction) Marco Begalli – Thomas Fauster and athletes in the water from the legendary Luis Marchegger to a very young Matteo Iachino.
In 1984 Pantelleria-Kelibia was addressed by 10 rowers (AIWOC, Inc) including Dell'Aria, Mastrolorenzi, Alabama, Moretti and Rizzo (source: the "historic" Catalan windsurfer Pietro Rizzo, i thank). At the time, the crossing was most likely more demanding than that of the Tunisian protagonist of the case, is because in the opposite direction (sicilian-Tunisia) and then against the prevailing winds (gait – reports Uncle Peter – it was a wide bubble) both because you used the old volume boards with drift! The North African (it's true even without apparent assistance and alone) employed a modern conception board as it was dated (a Windsurfing Formula, maybe a 158 and an old but always good sail, as far as you'd see from a video) and the weather-marine conditions of those end days 2019 and start 2020 were also good for visibility (Great Mountain of Pantelleria is 836 meters above sea level and therefore visible from a great distance also to guide the route "on sight"). The stretch of travel itself (38 mn in carrying gait with W-NW, maybe a few jibes, favor of the current etc.) it can theoretically be tackled by an advanced amateur with current equipment (as the Tunisian's feat would seem to demonstrate) if in possession of excellent athletic preparation, if the weather-sea conditions are good or the route is guided with gps or if you follow a assistance boat, besides obviously the necessary luck. However in reality and especially in a longer and more difficult route like the Pozzallo-Malta, The Sicilian Channel is unpredictable and very challenging, whether you raise the sea with west or strong mistral either if you encounter wind holes, so the crossing can take about 4-6 up to even 11 hours, becoming a real feat that can only be tackled by world-class athletes. In addition, at the start a strong coastal thermal from SW is added in the summer period, making it difficult to manage sails beyond the 8.5-9,0 or larger ones that would then prove useful halfway or arriving in Malta, with wind holes and other unexpected. I just want to cite as an example that in the sixth edition of the Malta-Sicily Windsurf Race (editions from 1984 to the 1994) in 1989 (with the equipment of the time...) won the New Zealander Bruce Kendall (twice Olympic medalist, with a gold and a bronze) in 6 hours and 49 minutes and the very strong athlete reported that he needed three days to recover the fatigue (source: the well-known Maltese journalist and organizer Wilfred Sultana, whose articles are referred for in-depth). To go to the present day, another well-known Roman windsurfer, international-level athlete, Marco Begalli (Sailing Sirocco, Ragusa) covered in November of 2015 the 55 miles from Marina di Ragusa to Valletta in 3 hours and 57 minutes, setting a record likely to last over time: took a slalom 85 cm and one 8,6 (thank you Marco for promptly responding to me during the writing of this article).
For the record the first crossing Sicily-Malta (Cape Sparrow Stake to Valletta 54 Mn) windsurfing was carried out in the 1982 Maltese Bonello and Ellul 9 hours and 31 minutes. In 1985 Maltese Fleri Soler set a record 5 hours and 56 minutes, beaten only 30 years later (Sic!) Paul Ellul in June 2015 with 4 hours and 47 minutes (Valletta-Pozzallo route, with the favor of the syrup). Other Sicilian surfers who made the crossing were Paco Wirz (World-class athlete at the time together with Riccardo Giordano and Marco Casagrande) and Lucio Di Mauro (also athlete of Olympic interest, today also strong sailor of the NIC Sailing Circle of Catania). In another edition, tells me another Catalan windsurfer Sebi Cantarella who was in assistance to Lucio Di Mauro, the fleet was decimated and only came in two, namely Lucius himself and a German, who then won thanks to a luckier sail change: the conditions were very harsh because from Pozzallo to Malta they had to race all the time of bolina fighting against winds from the southern quadrants and arrived exhausted. So let's imagine the comparison 50 miles of bolina with a volume board and a slack with a Formula or one of those expensive superlight slalom jewels of today!
Then, according to the evolution at all known of modern windsurfing, in the "intermediate" editions of the crossings, the use of raceboards was successfully followed by that of the Formula Windsurfing boards (which at that time had smaller sizes and pearly volumes than the current ones and therefore more suited to the conditions of the Sicilian Channel, behaving almost like big slaloms and in my humble opinion with several advantages).
The Kelibia Distance (Tunisia)-Pantelleria, by itself, it can be dealt with in theory by an advanced amateur (as the Tunisian's enterprise would demonstrate, not equipped with an imposing physique and, however, with a wetsuit seemingly not adequate to the temperatures of those days...), if in possession of a good athletic preparation, if the weather-sea conditions are optimal or the route is guided with gps or if you follow a assistance boat.
As a simple amateur I can say that with slaloms and Formulas on the south coast sicula and on the east coast with many friends we have passed several times 40 nautical miles of travel (moving away from the coast or the starting area). One account, however, is coastal navigation with predictable thermal winds, one thing is offshore navigation especially without reference.
Under ideal conditions, keeping a realistic average of 14-15 secure nodes and considering errors of course, loss of speed in manoeuvre with wall change, Falls, unforeseen events and obstacles various semi-submerged and unsubsed, with recent equipment would serve (with a prudent estimate and simplifying) 4 hours or so to cover 40 miles. The Sicilian Channel therefore in favorable conditions and with a lot of luck could also be faced by a surfer with not extreme physical and technical characteristics, however, with the indispensable support of one or two boats (of the "don't do it at home" series... ). To complete the theme of sicule crossings, I want to remember the first crossing of the Strait of Messina on 30 August 1979 by Giovanni Landi (round trip, S.Agatha – Cannitello – Papard) in the early days of discipline, with the very first equipment of the time and without trapeze on a day with strong syrup.
I would add, on the subject of great crossings with windsurfing, that Formula One champion Allison Shreeve has twice faced the near-impossible conditions of the Formula and with an Olympic rig. 115 km of the Bass Strait (Australia-Tasmania) defying waves of 3-4 meters and hypothermia. Micah Buzianis, in an epic edition of the Bridge to Bridge Ronstan in San Francisco right on a Formula Windsurfing took the luxury of leaving behind skiffs and kites. Features of "seaworthiness" and "seakeeping" in tackling crossings and long distances and covering a wide range of wind and sea conditions, show in general in addition to the Formula tables (especially the old ones that cushion the impact on the wave well) slalom combinations 82-85 cm and rig 8.5-8.7: years ago Steve Allen with slalom and 8,6 won a Lancelin Ocean Classic (analogy with the equipment used by Begalli) leaving behind many hundreds of meters the first kite (while today's foil kites hold truly impressive averages as Riccardo Leccese demonstrated in a recent Ronstan). And I don't think I'm going to add anything about the various Defi Wind...
In conclusion, honour anyway to the nice Tunisian, that with equipment worth a really few hundred euros, so much courage and passion would prove that you can accomplish great feats.
Giuseppe Scire' Scappuzzo ITA-50″
source: Giuseppe Scire 4 www.RIWmag.com
photo: Giuseppe Scire, Google Map, W. Sultana
Traduzione automatica effettuata da Google
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