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. A record which was unbeaten since 2008.
Relive the race!
They have done it.
At 13h20'26” UTC, Maserati Multi 70 crossed the Tea Route arrival line between Hong Kong and London passing under the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. Giovanni Soldini and trimaran's crew composed of Guido Broggi, Sébastien Audigane, Oliver Herrera Perez and Alex Pella took 36 days, 2 hours, 37 minutes and 2 seconds to cover the 13.000 nautical miles of the theoretical route between the Chinese port and the capital of the United Kingdom. They have improved the record by almost a week (5 days and 19 hours) that previously belonged to Gitana 13, the 100-foot maxi catamaran that completed the route in 41 days in 2008. On the ground, the Italian trimaran travelled 15.083 nautical miles at an average speed of 17,4 knots.
Just after the finish line, the skipper Giovanni Soldini comments: ''We are super happy but also very tired. The last 48 hours have been very tough. Sailing in the Channel upwind with a lot of breeze, a lot of sea and a terrible cold. The record went very well, we are very happy with our route. The most difficult part was the last one: with more favorable weather conditions in the Atlantic we could have gained another 3 or 4 days, but that's okay. Indeed it could not have been better, technically the boat is perfect. From the last time we put Maserati Multi 70 in a yard, we have sailed more than 19,000 miles and everything is fine onboard, surely there is the work of preparation by Guido and the whote team. An excellent crew''.
Maserati Multi 70 entered the English Channel before dawn. After a very fast night thanks to the wind which veered to the East and allowed Giovanni Soldini and his crew (Guido Broggi, Sébastien Audigane, Oliver Herrera Perez and Alex Pella) to conclude the crossing of the Bay of Biscay on the direct route to the tip of Brittany, at 6.34 UTC ranking, the italian trimaran was located a few miles north of the island of Ushant. Of the remaining 344 miles to the finish line, 300 are the distance between Ushant and the Strait of Dover: all the Channel to sail upwind with important tidal currents and a very dense maritime traffic. These are the last 300 miles before turning left and start the last part of the route, climbing the estuary and the river Thames up to London.
Giovanni Soldini comments: ”Here we have a wind that blows from the east and forces us to go up the Channel tacking upwind with a freezing cold. We expect the wind to increase up to 22/25 knots in the evening. We will pass Calais in the night Thursday and Friday at around 4 in the morning. Navigation is very tough in the Channel, there is a lot of traffic and rules that we have to respect. Everything is all right on board, morale is high”.
Maserati Multi 70 crossed Cape Finisterre last night around 23 UTC. During the second part of the night, skipper Giovanni Soldini and the crew had to make six tacks to get around the north western tip of Spain and enter the Bay of Biscay. Went first to the East to be able then to head North: the upwind tacking sequence against the steady northeastern breeze is going on off the coast of Spanish Galicia. According to some weather forecasts, the wind should turn to the East in the next few hours maintaining 20 knots of intensity, this could allow Maserati Multi 70 to follow a more direct route towards Ushant island and the tip of Brittany, now less than 300 miles away.
Giovanni Soldini comments: ”We hope to arrive next night in Ushant and then to face the English Channel where we expect to find eastern winds, very strong at the end”.
After almost 34 days of navigation, at the 9.58 UTC rankings, the advantage of Maserati Multi 70 on the record holder's roadmap is 1.472 miles. There are 637 miles left (of the initial 13.000 nm) to the finish line in London. The arrival is currently scheduled for the morning of 23 February.
After passing the latitude of Gibraltar (36° N) last night, Maserati Multi 70 tacked and started heading towards the coasts of Portugal. For the skipper Giovanni Soldini and his crew the navigation of the last part of the route of the record Hong Kong-London is confirmed upwind, against contrary winds.
Giovanni Soldini comments: “We are only 1000 nautical miles away. With normal conditions, going downwind, we could arrive in London in less than 48 hours. However, Neptune decided otherwise and for several days we have been tacking upwind, first along the African coast, now along the European one. After the latitude of Cape Saint Vincent, soon we will be above Lisbon and we will continue to tack up to Calais, with a wind reinforcement up to 25/30 knots from the East when we will be in the English Channel“.
“We must try to go as fast as possible“, continues Soldini, “because later we will arrive in the Channel, the more wind we will have; but at the same time we have to take care of the gear and the boat that suffer more when sailing upwind. The strategy is to navigate near the coastline, in order to have less swell and current. Then it will be necessary to manage the currents of the Channel in a good way. In the upcoming days, the tide coefficients are high and therefore strong currents are expected. Paradoxically it is worse to have the current in favor and the wind against because it generates a very steep and dangerous sea. We'll have to be very careful“.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”