Shortly after the sunset in China, under a cloudy sky and with light winds, the trimaran Maserati Multi70 left Hong Kong in search of the record set by Gitana 13 in 2008. The World Sail Speed Record Council official, the organization that validates the oceanic records, has triggered the stopwatch at 10: 43' 23'' UTC (18:43 in China, 11:43 in Italy) when Maserati Multi70 crossed the starting line positioned between the Tai Long Pai and Nga Ying Pal lights, at the exit of the Tathoong canal, eastern access to the Hong Kong harbour.
Relive the race!
Maserati Multi 70 in the trade winds
2700 nautical miles left for Giovanni Soldini and the crew to the finish line in London
Finally trade winds for Maserati Multi 70, skipper Giovanni Soldini and his crew. After struggling for two days to pass through a tropical depression, this night just before dawn, the trimaran entered the range of north eastern trade winds, meaning constant winds.
In the coming days, the strategy and the route will largely depend on the evolution of the Azores high. Often centered on the Portuguese archipelago, from which the name comes, this high pressure separates the trade winds zone that blow further south at the tropical latitudes from the area of the powerful westerlies winds determined by the depressions that cross the North Atlantic from West to East in our latitudes above 40° N.
However, the current weather situation and what is expected for the next few days does not correspond to the classic scheme, as Soldini explains: "The Azores high pressure has unusual forms and positions. Today it is a strip that stretches from the Strait of Gibraltar to Florida. In the next 4/5 days, it is expected to extend from Ireland to the Azores. And this does not look good for us because it will bring cold and strong winds from East/North East, that is to say, contrary winds. We hope that the models are wrong or change in the meanwhile. Now we are concentrating on our trajectory and we are monitoring the weather evolution looking for some opportunities to go as fast as possible without extending the route''.
After 26 days of navigation, at the 10.46 UTC rankings, the advantage of the Maserati Multi 70 on the record holder's roadmap is 1.515 miles. There are 2.684 miles left (of the initial 13.000 nm) to the finish line in London.
HONG KONG-LONDON / LESS THAN 600 MILES TO THE EQUATOR
After a brief slowdown this morning at dawn, Maserati Multi 70 is back again at full speed on its route towards the West African coast at more than 28 knots of speed in a South wind blowing between 14 and 17 knots.
A morning break that allowed the trimaran’s crew to take care of the clothing as told Soldini: ”It’s laundry day, we washed our shirts with sea water then rinsed with a little fresh water (produced on board with the watermaker, Ed.). Today the wind should come back and get more stabilized, now we have 8, 9 knots. We shall be patient”. Patience rewarded: the wind has arrived a few hours later.
This morning at the 8:30 UTC rankings, Maserati Multi 70 is 1813 miles ahead of the record holder. The equator is less than 600 nautical miles away, 4254 until the finish line.
MASERATI MULTI 70 IN THE ATLANTIC
During the first day in the Atlantic, Maserati Multi 70 has sailed from the parallel 34° S (latitude of Cape of Good Hope) up to 28° S taking advantage of the southerly wind that will first turn to SE then to E as the trimaran continues to sail northwards in the “elevator for the Equator”.
Where to cross the ”Line” and its infamous calms or doldrums?
This is the question of the moment as Giovanni Soldini explains: “It is very important to study well the strategy for the next few days. it is doubtful where the Equator shall be passed, usually we do it around longitude 27° W. But there is the possibility of going straight, near the African coast, but then things could get complicated the following week.
Together with Pierre (Lasnier, the team’s routeur, Ed.) who helps us from land, we are running many simulations to try and decide the best choice. There are many options, unfortunately the meteorology is not an exact science, we’ll have to ponder well this choice because it is fundamental.”
“We will take a decision in the next 24/36 hours”, concludes Giovanni Soldini.
Maserati Multi 70 is 798 miles ahead at 9.00 UTC.
MASERATI MULTI 70 ROUNDED CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
After 16 days, 1 hour and 37 minutes of navigation, Maserati Multi 70 rounded Cape of Good Hope at 12.20 UTC.
After a night spent fighting with light winds, the landing on South Africa occurred a few hours earlier, at dawn, near Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of the African continent that by geographical agreement marks the limit between the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean.
Just after they rounded Cape Agulhas, Giovanni Soldini and the other four crew members (Guido Broggi, Sébastien Audigane, Oliver Herrera Perez and Alex Pella) have found a favorable wind to round Good Hope, not just a symbolic turn halfway between Hong Kong and London.
“It’s a beautiful day, it’s sunny and windy. We are very happy to get here, over halfway, in sixteen days. Excellent average, excellent navigation, excellent boat, excellent crew. We hope to continue like this “, says Giovanni Soldini.
In 2008 Lionel Lemonchois and his crew, who currently hold the Hong Kong-London record, sailed for 21 days before passing Cape of Good Hope.
Giovanni Soldini and Maserati Multi70's crew less than 48 hours from Cape of Good Hope
From the Roaring Forties is coming a storm with gusts of 35 knots of wind
The second week of sailing of Maserati Multi70 ends at 800 miles from Cape of Good Hope with a 564 miles advantage on the roadmap of the record to beat.
“Now we are passing through a hill of high pressure that has slowed us down. We're sailing on port side with light winds from the east, heading to 240. As soon as the wind will turn NE we will jibe”, explains Giovanni Soldini contacted by phone this morning. “We'll try to get out of this front quickly. This is why it is important to position yourself fairly to the south, in order to leave the front with the best angle to head for South Africa.”
“The problem with these fronts is that the wind can change in only ten minutes even with a 180 degrees rotation”, continues Soldini. “In this case, we are expecting winds from the North with gusts around 30/35 knots before the front then, once passed, it will blow from the South. But for many hours we will have the old swell from the North with the wind from the South, so it will be important to measure the speed to avoid damage.”
At the end of the second week of navigation on the route of the record between Hong Kong and London, Maserati Multi70 has covered 5,756 of the 13,000 miles of the theoretical route (18.1 knots of average speed). In fact, on the ground, it covered a distance of 6,364 miles at 20 knots of average speed.
Maserati Multi70 at full speed in the Indian Ocean with the trade winds
After a week of sailing and 2570 miles travelled the lead on the previous record rises to 741 miles
The second week of the record between Hong Kong and London begins in the Indian Ocean, under the 15th parallel South. Since yesterday, the team has been running downwind in the trade winds, at full speed on the direct route towards South Africa. At this morning ranking, 7:06 UTC, the trimaran Maserati Multi 70 recorded average speeds of around 30 knots, an advantage of 741 miles on the previous record and a distance of 4,000 miles from Good Hope, next buoy on the Hong Kong - London route.
“The first week went very well”, says Giovanni Soldini, skipper of Maserati Multi 70. “We have found a good harmony on board, the atmosphere between us is very positive. We sailed well and we also had Neptune on our side. We entered the trade winds last night around 18 UTC and we immediately accelerated. We spent the last day between brutal gales and gennaker maneuvers but we are happy because we are going fast and I think that in the coming days we will be able to make a long way.”
Maserati Multi70 at less than 300 nautical miles from Sunda Strait
After four days, they sailed 1635 nm at an average speed of 18,9 knots and gained a 468 miles lead over the previous record
Giovanni Soldini and Maserati Multi 70's crew crossed the Equator this morning at 3:13 am UTC. After almost four days of navigation, today at 7.04 UTC, the cartography indicates they traveled the first 1408 miles of the theoretical route at an average speed of 16,2 knots. On the ground, they really sailed 1635 nm at an average speed of 18,9 knots, gaining a 468 nm lead over the reference time set by Lionel Lemonchois, Gitana 13's skipper.
“The spirit is high on board. We are all concentrated and motivated”, says Giovanni Soldini, skipper of Maserati Multi 70. “Compared to the routing simulations we made at the start, we gained about fifteen hours. We passed the worst area of the light winds bubble yesterday. Then, in order to stay in the pressure, we had to keep on jibing towards the Sunda Strait where we should arrive in about 15 hours (around 22 UTC on January 22nd).”
“Then, after the Strait”, explains Soldini, ”we will have to see how we will manage to catch the south east trade winds in the Indian Ocean. We know the route is still very long but it would be an ideal situation to get there with a lead on the record, because we also know that Lionel Lemonchois pushed hard on the first four days across the Indian Ocean.”
To beat the record they'll have to cross the finish line under the Queen Elizabeth II bridge over the River Thames before the 1st of March
"Finally we are off", says Giovanni Soldini, skipper of Maserati Multi 70."It was a tough decision to make because the weather situation is not ideal but we do not see any other useful windows in the coming days. From the technical point of view, at the moment at the Equator, there is a bubble with no wind that we will have to cross. We hope that the conditions change once we'll get there and be kind to us. During the first days we will do our best to stay in deep water, but there is more wind near the Vietnamese coasts, so we will try to find compromises between the need to go fast and the attention to pay at the myriad of networks and boats of local fishermen who do not even have navigation lights. The boat is ready, we are motivated and we will always try to give our best."