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sail-world.com -- Maserati almost becalmed at Cape Horn

Maserati almost becalmed at Cape Horn    
Wed, 23 Jan 2013

The yacht attempting to become the fastest ever sailing boat to sail from New York to San Francisco - a route that includes the usually dreaded Cape Horn - was almost becalmed as they approached the Horn.

Just as British veteran sailor Jeanne Socrates, sailing with the wind from west to east, experienced a couple of weeks ago when she floated past the Horn in 'glassy seas', there was almost no wind at the Horn as the Italian sailor Giovanni Soldini and his yacht Maserati had only a few miles left to round Cape Horn east to west against the wind.

'We were struggling to move forward, there was very little wind,' said Giovanni. 'In seven hours we only made 30 miles. The night was tough with constant rain and wind gaps. The next morning we were sailing at 3,5 knots, a gust of wind carrying us toward the Cape. We kept struggling to move forward mile by mile'.

Finally Giovanni Soldini, Guido Broggi, Corrado Rossignoli, Michele Sighel, Sébastien Audigane, Boris Herrmann, Jianghe Teng, Ryan Breymaier e Carlos rounded the mythical Cape Horn after 21 days, 23 hours and 14 minutes.

They did it in record time, considering that the 110 feet maxi catamaran Gitana 13, which holds the overall time record on the New York - San Francisco route, rounded Cape Horn in 2008 after 22 days, 7 hours and 25 minutes. This was because Gitana was forced to stand by for five days just before Cape Horn due to strong winds.

'We are really happy' says Giovanni speaking on the phone immediately after the passage. 'We did a great time so far. We have been stuck in a windless area up to 10 miles from the Cape. Then – a couple of hours ago – we were just in time to haul the J4, hoist the Code 0 and reef when gusts of 20-25 knots suddenly arrived. We are now sailing with gusts of 35 knots, as expected. The wind is going to increase more over the next few hours. Our strategy will be to exploit the slightest change in the wind direction in order to head quickly towards the west and then north, parallel to the Chile coast. At the same time we must not get too close because the Andes are so high they form a wall that compresses the isobars causing the wind to increase by up to 15 knots'.

According to the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) rules - the international body that certifies the best times of sailing boats on the historic route - the monohull Maserati has to break the time achieved by Yves Parlier in 1998, aboard Aquitaine Innovations: 57 days, 3 hours, 2 minutes.

The record in the category of multihulls achieved in 2008 by Lionel Lemonchois aboard Gitana 13 is 43 days, 3 minutes, 38 seconds.

by Nancy Knudsen



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