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11/19 - 09h52

Alex Pella: Portrait

Barcelona born and bred Alex Pella Valette, 42, has been on and around boats since he was just a toddler, just like his three brothers, older brother David, and younger brothers Borja and Nacho. Family cruising from a very early age is at the heart of his passion for sailing. His father, a set designer and builder for Spanish TV, had a 28 foot wooden boat in 1973 which they cruised the Costa Brava and the Balearics.

When in 1976 he bought a Spanish built Puma 34 hull to fit out, the young brothers spent all their time playing in and around the project. Three more family boats followed before Alex and the brothers moved on to professional pastures.

"There is litle doubt in my mind that is where Alex real passion for ocean racing comes from, it is first and foremost about loving the sea and those cruising times we all spent together. We have all done two America's Cups and the Volvo and things like that but cruising " says his brother David who worked with Spain's and Sweden's America's Cup challenges.
When he was old enough he started with his brothers in Optimists at the Real Club Nautico de Barcelona where their first coach was Guillermo Altadil - one of Spain's very top ocean racers.

Alex Pella's first brush with solo and short handed ocean racing came courtesy of Bareclona brothers Willy and Bruno Garcia - who were very much solo and short handed pioneers from the Catalan capital. David Pella helped them with the early days of their Spanish Figaro programme. When he was in Auckland engaged with Spain's America's Cup campaign, he asked Alex if he would help in France with the Figaro. The brothers are fluent French speakers having attended Barcelona's French Lycee.
From there he was inspired to get into the Mini 650. A Barcelona patron bought LIonel Lemonchois' Lombard designed Sampaquita which Alex raced to 3rd in the Mini Transat in 2003. He and his brothers built a new carbon rig in their grandmother's basement and in 2005 Alex was third. He won the long leg from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote becoming the first Spanish sailor to win a long solo ocean race leg. But in 2007 on another Lombard design built by Thierry Fagnet he had to retire into Mindelo, Cape Verde after his rig cracked, one of the low points of his career.

He has raced successfully inshore in IMS and the TP52 Class. He raced on Bribon, Jose Cusi's TP52 which was skippered by the King of Spain but always he first love has been solo and short handed racing.
In the early days of racing in France he was known by his rivals as 'Le Diablo Espagnol', for his occasionally hot blooded temperament, but the intervening years have seen him mature.
"Alex says that 70 per cent of any success is down to preparation." his elder brother says, "And in this particular case it has been a a group of friends who have made it very enjoyable and easy to work really hard. They may be all friends but they are an exceptional group each with a very high level of experience."
Pella went on to race in the IMOCA class with Pepe Ribes. They finished 5th in W Hotels in their first Transat Jacques Vabre together in 2009. They set the mark for the first New York Barcelona Race before racing together round the world in the 2010-2011 Barcelona World Race in which they finished fourth.
He was selected as the boat skipper for the film En Solitaire, a French production about the life of a Vendee Globe solo-ist. And in 2013 he raced with Lionel Lemonchois on the Route des Princes on the Maxi trimaran Prince de Bretagne
The Tales project - which is all-Spanish and run out of her home port of Santander - is managed by Antonio 'Talpi' Piris, boat builder and Whitbread and Volvo pro sailor, the boat captain is Pablo Santurde an ex dinghy racer Alex sailed the 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre to second place with, electronics are looked after by Luis Guervós, the sails by Juan Messeguer the rigging by Carlos Ruigómez. Tales 2 was built by Chimo Lopez at Longitud Zero, builders of many TP52 championship winners.
The boat is owned by Gonzalo Botin, brother of Marcelino who designed Tales 2. He has designed America's Cup, Volvo, IMS and TP52 boats and is currently with the Italian Luna Rossa America's Cup programme.
Gonzalo Botin notes:
" The boat has done around 23000 miles from its launch in July 2013 to Nov 2014 before the Route du Rhum. We know the boat is better now in every area and everything seems to have worked fine during this transat."
" As regards to Alex he is simply a very talented sailor. He is the most experienced and best single handed sailor in Spain. He is very good on every aspect of the business. He is a good navigator, an excellent trimmer in his own right, loves driving, can repair anything onboard, knows how to pace himself… I just cannot spot any weak points."
" Alex is also a very open and sympathetic guy who can communicate what he does to others with little effort, and this is important nowadays."
" I think that if he was french he would probably have the backing to do the Vendee Globe." 

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