by Des Ryan
A crew of sailors attempting to break the record for the fastest time from New York to San Francisco has reached Cape Horn after 21 days. The record of 89 hours which stood for 130 years on the historic route has been broken many times since. The record that Maserati is trying to beat is the 1998 record that of Yves Parlier and Aquitaine Innovations set at 57 days and some hours.
The crew on board Maserati with Italian skipper Giovanni Soldini is a refreshingly international one although they are not your typical cruising sailors: Italians Guido Broggi, Corrado Rossignoli and Michele Sighel, Frenchman Sébastien Audigane, German Boris Herrmann, American Ryan Breymaier, Chinese Jianghe Teng and Spaniard Carlos Hernandez.
Here is their latest report just as they are approaching the Horn:
On board everything is fine. We are ready to face the passage of Cape Horn against the wind,' says Soldini speaking on the phone at about 14.30 today. 'We're heading towards the Strait of Le Maire and we decided to pass directly through it in order to run less miles and position ourselves as far to the west possible. The passage of the strait will be very challenging due to the 4-5 knots of counter-currents and the presence of giant seaweed that could tangle up the keel. They can be up to 20 meters long and 20 centimeters wide; we have to be very careful. All day tomorrow we will have a strong westerly wind, with gusts up to 40 knots. We also know that there are 7 or 8 icebergs between Le Maire and Cape Horn, so we will sail very close to the coast with our radar switched on. Our strategy will be toexploit the slightest change in the wind direction in order to head quicklytowards 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. We are doing our best, the ocean will decide when it will let us go'.
Nearly 21 days have passed since their departure from New York (which took place December 31, 2012 passing the Statue of Liberty at 16h 22 '56' and Ambrose Light at 17h 49' 30'), and Maserati are more than 6,700 miles into their voyage. The VOR70 is now grappling with one of the most delicate step of the historical Golden Route: the passage of the legendary Cape Horn against the prevailing winds and currents. Cape Horn is the most southerly extremity of Argentina situated at the latitude of the 'Furious Fifties' the notorious meeting place of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Soldini ready to tack - victory is in the sights
Giovanni Soldini and his team are currently sailing towards the Strait of Le Maire at a speed of 14 knots with winds from east. They are only 160 miles away from Cape Horn. The passage of the Horn is expected tomorrow early in the morning. The team is expecting difficult conditions due to the arrival of a front bringing about 30 knots of wind from the west with gusts up to 40 knots. They are also expecting the presence of several icebergs between the Strait of Le Maire and Cape Horn.
About the record:
The record New York-San Francisco is monitored by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC), the international body that certifies the best time results of sailing boats on the historic Clipper routes. Twocategories of boats have attempted this record: monohulls and multihulls. The current record for monohulls (Maserati's category) is held by Frenchman Yves Parlier and was set in 1998 aboard the 60 ft Aquitaine Innovations. His record time stands at 57 days, 3 hours, 2 minutes. The record for multihulls was established in 2008 by Lionel Lemonchois aboard the 110ft maxi-catamaran, Gitana 13 (43 days, 3 minutes, 38 seconds, at an average speed of 13.5 knots). Gitana 13 rounded Cape Horn after 22 days, 7 hours and 25 minutes.
History of the record:
The 13225 nautical miles that separate New York from San Francisco via Cape Horn, are an historic route, widely travelled by clippers that were involved in the goldrush starting from the second half of 1800. The best result of the time was set in 1854 by Flying Cloud, exceptional vessel from the Boston shipyards, that reached San Francisco in 89 days and 21 hours, a record that stood for more than 130 years.
After several attempts by many boats, the 60-foot Thursday's Child of Warren Luhrs arrived in San Francisco after 80 days and 20 hours in 1989. In 1994, Isabelle Autissier aboard Ecureuil Poitou took 62 days and 5 hours. Then, in 1998, Yves Parlier on board Aquitaine Innovations has dropped to 57 days, 3 hours, 2 minutes. This is the reference record for Giovanni Soldini and his crew who will try to beat it aboard the VOR70 Maserati, from the second half of December 2012.
The overall record in the multihull category belongs to Lionel Lemonchois that made thejourney in 43 days and 38 minutes aboard Gitana 13 in 2008.
Naturally, they needed sponsors to undertake such a challenge. The expedition is being sponsored by Maserati as main partner and inspiration for the boat’s name, by the Swiss bank BSI (Generali Group) and by Generali itself as co-sponsor.