How my passion for sailing grew over time, leading me to Mini Transat
2015 – I took part in my first racing season, joining the Simina 2 team (Elan 340) as a trimmer. I competed in all the regattas organised as part of the Romania Cup and the National Offshore Championship.
2016 – I joined the Jackpot team (J80) as a trimmer and competed in the National Offshore Championsgip.
2017 – Full season with the Jackpot team. We won many regattas in the ORC B division. After completing the season I decided to follow my dream to start competing in short-handed offshore races and purchased my first mini, a Pogo 1 from 1998. The story of this acquisition can be read here. And then transporting the boat from Marseille to Limanu was an adventure in itself that I managed to present in my last post from 2019.
2018 – Noticing that my passion for sailing is not just a temporary whim, and now possesing a real race boat (Odyssea, our Pogo 1), my wife Cristiana suggested that we should establish our own racing team. Our very good friend Luiza joined us, and ocassionally some other friend, and thus we managed to put together an unexperienced but very motivated team. My first season as a skipper taught me many valuable lessons. With a reduced team we went through storms and myriad challenges (technical, strategic), managing to occupy a well deserved middle place in the ORC B division at the end of the year. After this season we all agreed that athough minis are excellent boats for offshore races, for inshore racing they are extremely difficult to maneuver. And thus we decided to purchase a sailboat better suited for the weather conditions on the Black Sea and the type of races organised here. We decided on a J92, a 30 ft regatta boat, that we brought on the road all the way from the Bay of Arcachon in France.
2019 – Three other good friends joined us on Sapajou, our J92, for the entire racing season. Sapajou was moved to the ORC A class, being the smallest one in this elite Romanian division. Again we finished the season with big smiles at the middle of the ranking.
2021 – Slightly more experienced, we competed in a newly created ORC B – Sportboats division. We won first place in the Grace of Liberty and End of Summer Regattas, and second place in the Kaufland Regatta, winning overall the Life Romania Cup.
At the same time I started the collaboration and training with Victor Mathieu in Concarneau for my next real mini season, trying to accomplish a dream I’ve had since 2012 when I started following the famous Vendee Globe Race – namely to qualify for and take part in Mini Transat!
How I decided to start sailing and buy a boat
My dormant passion for sailing and exploring was rekindled one July evening when we motored slowly out of the Alimos Marina in Greece, during my first ever one-week sailing vacation, into the calm azure of the Aegean Sea. Being part of a large group of friends who were only looking for a relaxed vacation without any skippering responsibilities, and succumbing to the drowsiness following a full night driving and amplified by one too many bottles of cold Mythos beer, I moved to the the bow of our brand new Jeanneau 53 and stared dumbfounded at an unreal sunset while we were gently gliding towards Cape Sounion. A few hours later we arrived at the destination and barely found a spot to drop anchor. But what a spot we had found… the millennia old Temple of Poseidon lit on a rock perched above our bay kept watch as we were swimming around our boat under full-moon.
These were my very first hours of sailing (improperly called sailing since we had motored the entire distance from Athens, but nonetheless they had been on a sailboat) and truly I was fascinated. The remaining of the trip, hopping from one island to another, anchoring in bays or picking a mooring line in a village marina, cemented my newly discovered passion for cruising. I was totally won over and since then sailing has become my greatest hobby, alongside photography, overpassing mountaineering and climbing.
As a child I grew up with stories about distant harbours in Asia and long voyages. At that time my uncle was an officer in the Romanian Commercial Navy and lived and worked on huge ships for the best part of every year. When he came back home every 6 or 9 moths, he brought not only colourful presents (that were inexistent in the grey communist Romania), but also fabulous tales about storms at sea, fishing sharks, dining with monkeys and meeting strange people in faraway places. Until finishing elementary school I wanted to be a naval officer and live that life… but then high-school started and my attention was diverted towards more rational and practical things (the study of mathematics being chief among them).
In that July, as we were leaving behind the ancient islands of the Cyclades, I have come to realise that actually it is possible to live my childhood dream of crossing the seas by myself, on my own craft, without having to make a career out of it. And decided on a course of action that would lead me one day to its accomplishment.
In the following years I attended a sailing school (Constantin Lascu’s Scoala Nautica), obtained my sailing license (B category), went in several other sailing trips in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, devoured a big selection of sailing books (some of them I will mention and review in other sections of this blog), raced in VirtualRegatta competitions while following closely the 2012-2013 Vendee Globe and started dreaming about owning my first boat. A completely irrational and un-economic decision for someone who gets the chance to sail a few weeks per year at the most, I was told by my family and friends. Nevertheless, disregarding all the sound and sane advice I received from virtually everybody, I began to spend a significant amount of time on YachtWorld looking for my perfect boat.
A year and a half later, after compiling lists over lists of different boats within different budgets and with different sets of features, constantly changing my selection criteria every few months based on my readings and my imagined future uses of the boat, I was nowhere nearer to my goal. Until one day in June 2014 when Mem Pas Peur sailed into the Tomis Marina and Constantin gave me a call 🙂
How I decided to take on photography
As an undergraduate student at Harvard University I studied fine art photography under the guidance of professor Chris Killip, head of the photography department within VES (Visual and Environmental Studies Dept). Given my academic interest in social studies (majoring in Archaeology and Anthropology) I have been particularly drawn towards social documentary photography, with an emphasis on street photography and portraiture. This particular trend is also reflected in most of the portfolio galleries featured on this site.
During my formative years I was greatly influenced by the work of reputed photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Josef Koudelka, Paul Strand, Edward Weston or Diane Arbus (to name only a few).
Although photography is only a hobby nowadays, I still enjoy it the old-fashioned way, shooting 35 mm and medium format black and white film (primarily Ilford XP-2 and Delta).