Vendée Globe  
93 days 22 hours 52 minutes

Nandor Fa

He was born in Székesfehérvár (Hungary), in 1953.

He has been a honorary citizen of the town and of the county Fejér (Hungary), furthermore he has been holding the Grand Merit Cross of the Republic of Hungary since 1993.

Nándor is a patriot, he has a positive moral and philosophical connection to his homeland and his culture.

Boat designer and constructor, ocean sailor, the owner and manager of the Fa Hajó Ltd.

He sailed around the world five times, including three successfully completed solo around the world races.

He crossed the so feared Cape Horn five times.

He crossed the Equator ten times.

He sailed through the Atlantic-ocean seven times.

Results with his own, self- designed and self- constructed 60- foot race sailing boats:

1990-91 B.O.C. Challenge – rank 11, Special Award “Spirit of B.O.C. Challenge”

1992-93 Vendée Globe – rank 5, the first non-french who performed the “Everest” of the sailing world.

Sport Past – History – Former Results:

Following his elder brothers he did wrestling between 1964 and ’70. He had to stop it because of a knee injury, so he decided to do a different sport. He started kayaking.

In 1970 he became a member of the Köfém SC (later known as: Alcoa Köfém SC) – canoe kayak sports – canoe.

Between 1979 and 1984 he was member of the national Hungarian Finn sailing team, afterward he was sailing in the Jolle class in 1989, and in the Laser class in 1993.

Between 1985-87 – around the world sailing journey with Szent Jupát, together with József Gál – on the classically hard route from east to west around the capes.

Between 1983 and ’85 with his friend József Gál he had built the 31- foot sailing boat named Szent Jupát out of an empty hull purchased from the shipyard in Balatonfüred.

1987 – during Szent Jupát’s journey near the Cape Horn, Nándor Fa fortuitously listened into the communication between skippers of the ‘86-87 B.O.C Challenge four-sections around the world sailing race, which was just running at the same time. This kind of race was designed for him – he thought. The time period of dreaming had begun and he immediately started to design the Hungarian 60- foot racing boat of his own fantasy right on board of the Szent Jupát.

They had successfully finished Szent Jupát’s journey, which was followed by a series of invitations for giving travelogues and telling personal stories for masses of inquiring and curious people.

1988 – “A Szent Jupát 700 napja” (The 700 days of Szent Jupát) book – written by Nándor Fa, according to their notes in the logbook of Szent Jupát and by Nándor’s own memories about the adventurous journey. The book was published by the Szépirodalmi Kiadó and had worthily become a bestseller. Nowadays it is considered as a real curio.

After completing his book, he started to travel on professional purposes. In the spring of 1987 Nándor flew to Australia where he visited the world’s most famous boat designer, Ben Lexcen. He led the ambitious man coming from far away into his office and let him look into his work.

Between 1988 and ’89 Nándor had designed and had constructed the first Hungarian 60- foot ocean sailing boat. It was named after the historical appellation of Nándor Fa’s birthplace (Székesfehérvár): ALBA REGIA.

ALBA REGIA was being constructed in Székesfehérvár, in one of Köfém’s factory halls, and had completed the B.O.C Challenge successfully.

1990-’91 – B.O.C. Challenge with the ALBA REGIA

Nándor had to deal with and solve numerous technical problems during the race and completed it as the only Central-European skipper.

  • In several sections of the race the ALBA REGIA and her skipper were one of the four fastest boats.
  • Right after the start in Cape Town the boat’s rudders had broken, Nándor sailed more than 2000 kilometers back to Port Elisabeth in South-Africa steering the boat only by the sails, after which performance he became highly appreciated among professionals.
  • Following serious repairs, he was able to continue the race.
  • He successfully arrived to the finish line in Newport. On account of the time loss caused by the fracture he finished in the 11th place.
  • The TV channel Eurosport had broadcast a twenty minutes long portrait about the Hungarian competitor – the preparation of the film was supported also by the MALÉV Hungarian airline.
  • In the summer of 1991 in Newport (RI) at the imposing and spectacular closing ceremony, which was having payed huge international attention to, Nándor received the “SPIRIT of the B.O.C CHALLENGE” special award from the race committee as a professional recognition. The establishment of the award was inspired by Nándor’s extraordinary performance.

As soon as he touched land, he was already thinking about the non-stop solo around the world race. He was intrigued by the next year’s Vendée Globe, the king of all races which was founded by the winner of the former B.O.C. races, Philippe Jeantot. “There is no time to build an other boat but the ALBA REGIA – after a few necessary changes by the recently gained experiences – might be capable for the non-stop race as well.”

His decision had been born, and his sponsors supported the preparation for the new project too.

Nándor had a little bit more than one year until the start in November. However, he was pressed for time because it took one month to sail back to the Adriatic sea from Newport after the closing ceremony of the B.O.C ‘90-91 and by that time, autumn was already coming.

1991 September, the HUNGAROCAMION Special Transport Team traditionally undertook all of Nándor’s boat transportation. They brought the nearly 20 meters long sailing boat to the Alcoa-Köfém in record time.

1992-93 – Vendée Globe non stop solo around the world race

– with the 60- foot boat named K&H Bank – MATÁV – designer and implementer: Nándor Fa.

  • Around the world race
  • A distance of quasi 45 thousand kilometers
  • Without stoping or using external help.
  • This race is considered as the “Everest” of sailing!
  • It is also called the around the Antarctica race if looking at the Globe from a special point of view, from bottom view.
  • Start & finish point: Les Sables d’Olonne – a small town at the Atlantic Ocean in western France. (The winner of the first Vendée Globe race was Titouan Lamazou – now he is a worldwide well-known painter.)

The preparation of the boat:

One year of hard work, usually within three members, but for more difficult works they occasionally built up a bigger team of 10-15 people from other friends and former sport mates at KÖFÉM in order to get the boat ready and well- prepared for the start.

The name of the boat this time: K&H Bank – MATÁV

Similarly to Nándor’s rivals, his boat was also wearing the names of his main sponsors.

March 30, 1993 – completed the distance in 128 days – he crossed the finish line and arrived in the port of Les Sables d’Olonne in the 5th place, where thirty thousand enquirers including students from French schools, thousands of international (mainly French) sailing- loving people, and around a hundred Hungarians – his family, friends, sponsors, representatives of Székesfehérvár (Nándor’s birthplace), journalists, TV and radio crew, amateur sparks who maintained radio contact with him during the journey – were waiting for him.

The Vendée Globe 92-93 was Nándor Fa’s first non- stop solo race. Not without difficulties though, but it established his reputation and fame. Great recognition to the boat designer, the boat constructor and also to the person who had shown a fantastic performance in solo non- stop around the world sailing, even though he was the son of a landlocked country. The sailing profession considers him as one of the best sailors in the world. He managed to successfully complete the race as the only foreign sailor among the French professionals. Les Sables d’Olonne respects him as its own compatriot. French students, of whose curriculum includes every moment of these races, have written tests and papers about Nándor Fa too.

After his homecoming in 1993 Árpád Göncz President of the Republic awarded Nándor with the Grand Merit Cross of the Republic of Hungary during the ceremony which was personally organized for his honour.

István Balsai mayor of Székesfehérvár titled him a honorary citizen for his achievements which contributed to Hungary’s and Székesfehérvár’s good reputation in the world.

For the next Vendée Globe Nándor was invited by the race committee itself.

He started thinking about new 60- foot boat plans.

In the autumn of 1993 he designed his second 60- foot race boat by unique conceptions which were radically new in ocean sailing. By March 1996 he finished constructing it.

Vendée Globe 1996-97

The boat was named BUDAPEST and its main sail was wearing the symbol of the Hungarian millennium.

– designer: Nándor Fa

– implementer: Fa Hajó Ltd. (Nándor Fa’s company)

BUDAPEST was also being constructed in Székesfehérvár, in the factory hall of Alcoa (former Köfém) which company had always been continuously supporting Nándor.

Purpose: the Vendée Globe 96-97 non- stop solo around the world sailing race – the top of sailing – by following strict race rules – without any external help – in around a hundred days non-stop competing with the best sailors and the most well-prepared modern boats in the world.

The new boat was a real HIGH- TECH creation. Thanks to the sponsors’ support, Nándor Fa and his company: the Fa Hajó Ltd. managed to use the best materials and the best technologies – just like the large French boat designers and constructors – and created a real fast, potential winner boat by the non-stop hard work of three years regardless of weekends or holidays.

BUDAPEST completed the mandatory qualification perfectly. Before the start he was called one of the potential winners of the Vendée Globe by the international media.

But not long after the start technical problems and unfortunate events frustrated and finally prevented the completion of the race.

One day right before the start the French crane dropped the boat during antifouling works – this caused technical and psychic disadvantages later to the sailor.

Certain technical problems, which occurred after the start, made the situation harder – BUDAPEST was crashed by a Panamanian tanker in the Bay of Biscay – thus he was forced to turn back and sail into the home port to repair the boat. After one week of repairs the BUDAPEST started again.

During the following days after the third start the generators broke down and were impossible to repair – with the navigational instruments being out of order he had to turn back to the home port again.

As time continued to grow since the start, the competitors were getting further from the port – the conditions for completing the race had failed – Nándor Fa had to retire from the race this time.

The Vendée Globe ’96 brought the tragedy of several skippers and their boats, and more competitors retired from the race. It is possible that Nándor had been saved from a tragedy exactly by the unfortunate events at the start.

Cristophe Auguin was the only skipper among the five who were proclaimed to have a chance to win before the start, who managed to successfully complete the race.

The considered “goodfellas” had been dropped out of the race due to technical problems:

Isabelle Autissier /FR/

Fa Nándor /HU/

Yves Parlier /FR/

At the very south section of the race, together with his boat Gerry Roofs – winner of the transatlantic race right before the Vendée Globe – had been lost under tragical circumstances.

1997. Transat Jacques Vabre: Le Havre (Fr) – Cartagena (Columbia) – double handed transatlantic sailing race.

BUDAPEST finished in the 4th place

skipper: Nándor Fa (Hun)

co-skipper: Albert Bargues (Esp)

1998 was the year when Nándor decided to temporarily retire from the ocean race sailing. He was invited to numerous boat designer and constructor workshops in France and elsewhere overseas.

“I was born in Hungary, why would I move abroad? This is the place where I feel like home.”

In Hungary he founded his company called Fa Hajó Ltd. It was not built for designing boats. Boat dealers import enough boats from abroad – he said –, but there are no any quality marina for tham.

He specialized in designing and constructing modern floating pontoon marina systems which are practical, easy to use, and makes embarkation and debarkation safe for skippers and ships.

A new field, new industry, with lots of preparation and preliminary studies, lots of personal experiences on the ocean and a French license – and the operation and production of the Fa Hajó Ltd. had started.

Docks and marinas of Hungarian, Austrian lakes and rivers, and marinas of the Adriatic Sea – they were designed and constructed in Hungary and were exported to the destination ports.

By the time, the Fa Hajó Ltd, namely Nándor Fa had developed so much that they could release each others hands with the license owner.

However they developed and constructed cleats, power and water modules for the order of the French partner, to French marinas and ports of the Caribbean Sea.

Nevertheless he was still interested in designing and constructing boats.

Nándor was looking for a boat for himself which he could race with on the lake Balaton (in Hungary).

“Shall I import one? No way! Why would I bring second-hand shocker from abroad when we can create better ones at home?” … he designed and built one.

In his free time he was a sports omnivorous. For the invitation of his friends he took part in a few summer races on the lake Balaton.

Racing – not on a hobby level, but somehow like in former times: solo, non- stop – this inspired him.

2001 – He founded and organized the TBS Grand Prix non- stop single-hand sailing race around the lake Balaton for boats of the 8m open class – as the small version of the solo ocean races, following their philosophy. Since 2001 it is organized every year, always starting in the last week of September. It has become the most serious and the toughest race on lake Balaton. He intended to inspire the designers and skippers through the race rules to develop and innovate their boats. The 8m open class boats were typified by patchwork sails and …

The competitors had continuously been improving technically, in knowledge and in ambitions. An elite group of around 20 solo sailors of the Balaton had been formed.

In contrary to “party” competitions, this event did not gain any major sponsorship. Nándor Fa has never accepted any unprofessional and unworthy offers which does not fit to his philosophy, but the consistent support of the CASON – company that provides the tracking system –, the lifeguard service, the Vodafone Hungary, and acquaintances from the Kereked Sailing Club (in Csopak) were enough support to organize two tough solo events in one year.

The new category of sailing competitions continuously developed owing to the plenty of work and the huge enthusiasm, without any official sponsorship. Its value was only discovered by sailors. Nowadays there are around fifty solo sailors on the lake Balaton.

In 2006 Nándor could not stand without sailing any longer. He started to draw his new 8m Pro high-tech carbon boat with his young designer fellow Attila Déry. It had been constructed in the PAUGER workshop and had immediately become a success. He won the next solo race which took place right after the launch of the boat. Results were coming continuously. Keszthely- Kenese solo race, Around the Balaton solo race, and suddenly the innovative aspiration among sailors of the Balaton had started.

By the year 2011 a new sister boat designed by Fa had been born with the latest innovations, and then the rivals came up with an answer too: the Code8, which also had reaped success and Flaar 26.

2012 – Nándor Fa have reached what he wanted. The Balaton’s racing fleet have started to be renewed with boats made in Hungary. This means a professional and moral recognition for the talented Hungarian designers and constructors.

CSOPAK – KEREKED Sailing Club – this is where everything which connected him to the water have happened since his retirement from ocean racing. Some might call it a sort of displacement activity – a transitional period –, nevertheless Nandor’s opportunity of returning to the ocean was born in this Hungarian club too.

ZOLTEK: an American carbon factory, Hungarian foundation. Its technical manager brought the message to Nándor: the ZOLTEK will support him in case he would want to start a new ocean sailing project. “Is this some kind of joke?” A few months later he asked if they were serious.
“Let’s start talking about it!” So they started. They offered to provide and deliver the total amount of carbon material needed to build the new boat.
The last race of the IMOCA 60 foot series is going on in 2012. It’s time to start preparing for the next season.
He started drawing, then a deep theoretical preparation, digging into the professional ocean sailing world which he left around 20 years ago. He always followed the events and developments though. Now he intently decided to get back in the ‘ring’.

He has been preparing for the return for months, using all of his free time. He signed in at IMOCA and submitted the necessary documents for the application, the boat plans to the
international committee of the 60 foot boats of which predecessor he used to work at as chairman for several years.

During this time the works were going ahead with his co-designer Attila Déry. They made a deal with one of the world’s most fantastic boat constructor geniuses, Dénes Paulovits that the boat is going to be constructed by the PAUGER-Carbon workshop. The whole project was confidential because Nándor does not like to talk to the media when there is yet nothing to talk about.

The end of 2012 – he had to save his boat plans at IMOCA like a PhD title. The exam was placed on the same week as the start of the Vendée Globe. By the time he was sitting in front of the committee, he already knew the whole rulebook by heart. They didn’t have any objections. The plans were accepted, Nándor was taken into the professional sailing world again.

At the start of the Vendée Globe 2012 solo around world race he was among his kind again, and not only as a spectator. He worked as a professional correspondent for his own company’s (Fa Hajó Ltd) website, the Szólóvitorlázá (meaning: Solo sailing). The news that Nándor Fa is building a 60 foot boat had quickly been spread among the news agents who worked in Les
Sables d’Olonne (the French city where the race started from). They were very enthusiastic and inquiring, numerous international interviews had been made.

2012 December – it is time to announce his return to ocean sailing in Hungary as well.

2013-2017 Nándor is preparing his Imoca60 – the Spirit of Hungary – for the following races:

  • 2014 Apr. SOH Imoca 60’sailingboat has launched in Trieste (Italy)
  • 2014-15 Barcelona World Race, double handed around the world race, onboard Spirit of Hungary – rank 7 – despite their numerous technical problems, they successfully completed the circumnavigation in 110 days. Co-skipper: Conrad Colman (NZL/USA)
  • 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre (retired after dismasted near Madeira)
  • 2016-17 Vendée Globe solo around the world race – onboard Spirit of Hungary passed the finish line at 8th – 93 days 22 minutes 52 minutes and 9 sec