Everything is ready on board of Maserati Multi 70, currently moored in Hong Kong waiting to leave for London to challenge the record set by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, the international association that certifies the best sailing times on different routes of more than 13,000 nautical miles, half way around the world trip passing by Cape of Good Hope to be completed in less than 41 days. For Giovanni Soldini and the other four crew members – Alex Pella, Guido Broggi, Sébastien Audigane and Oliver Herrera – the departure is confirmed for Friday 12th January between 9 and 11 UTC in the morning, late afternoon in China. “The idea is to exploit winds blowing from the North East that has spread from the starting area along the whole east coast of Indochina”, explains Pierre Lasnier, routeur of the Maserati team who will follow the record on land. “We expect the wind to stop on Tuesday 16th and the flow will start to break in the South, over the Sunda Strait. At this point, it looks better for Maserati Multi 70 to start as soon as possible to find good conditions to go South, at least up to South Vietnam or Malaysia”.
“This is not really what we called a perfect weather window”, explains Giovanni Soldini, “but we do not know if and when we will find again conditions like these to leave. So we made the decision together, with the whole crew last night. I am super happy with the team we have formed: it already shows a good spirit, we are all motivated and aligned”.
The Maserati Multi 70 crew
It is an international and a very experienced crew that is preparing to leave on board of Maserati Multi 70 to conquer the Hong Kong-London sailing record. In addition to the skipper Giovanni Soldini, the crew also includes Guido Broggi, a long-time collaborator of the Milanese navigator. The Spanaird Oliver Herrera, member of the Maserati team for years, and his compatriot Alex Pella, the rising star of Spanish ocean sailing: “I had already sailed aboard the Vor 70 Maserati a few years ago, then with the trimaran in the Pacific last year, but I had never raced, that’s why I’m here,” said Alex Pella. “I know the team, it’s a family. The boat is prepared, the crew is ready and we have a good challenge ahead. There is all I love!” After a first experience together on board the trimaran Idec, holder of the Jules Verne Trophy, Pella will again team up with the Frenchman Sébastien Audigane, an expert of ocean multihulls and old acquaintance of the Maserati team (in 2013 he was on board the monohull during the Route Gold between New York and San Francisco). On land, the meteorologist Pierre Lasnier will take care of the routage and will remain in permanent contact with Soldini.
Maserati Multi 70 in a ”non-flying” configuration
For this record, the team returned the Maserati Multi 70 trimaran to its original configuration with classic appendages that is to say in Mod mode. The foil, i.e the daggerboards and rudders that have been developed and built in the last months and that allow the boat to rise from the water, have remained on land. ”For this record, we decided to go back in a non-flying setting, above all to limit the risk of impact with objects at sea”, explained Soldini. ”We have doubled the number of photovoltaic panels on board. This will allow us to gain weight and be autonomous from the energy point of view, a fundamental aspect in long navigation like this one.”
Maserati Multi 70
Length: 21.20 m
Beam: 16.80 m
Weight: 6,300 kg
Sail Area (upwind): 310 mq
Sail Area (downwind): 409 mq
From the Great Tea Race of 1866 to the record of Gitana 13
The Hong Kong-London record follows the same route sailed by the clippers who were delivering tea from China to England in the second half of the nineteenth century. The Great Tea Race of 1866 was famous since it saw five of the most modern and fast clippers of the time face off against each other. The race received noteworthy media coverage due to a dramatic end with the three first competitors who entered the river Thames with the same tide and moored at the London docks a few hours later, after 99 days of navigation.
In modern times, Philippe Monnet was the first navigator to improve the clippers time on this route: in 1990 he completed the course in 67 days, 10 hours and 26 minutes aboard a 60-foot trimaran.
In 2008, skipper Lionel Lemonchois aboard of Gitana 13, a 100-foot maxi (32.5 meters) maneuvered by a crew of 10 people, set the record time that is to be beaten today: 41 days, 21 hours and 26 minutes.
The obstacles on the Hong Kong to London route
Among the various ocean passages ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, the 13,000 miles theoretical route of the Hong Kong-London record makes it the third longest recognized route after the circumnavigation of the planet and New York-San Francisco.
Hong Kong – Sunda Strait: 1,700 nautical miles
Between Hong Kong and the Sunda Strait, gateway to the Indian Ocean between Java and Sumatra, crossing through the South China Sea and the Java Sea looks like doing a slalom between coral islands in an area where sea traffic is always really intense. Moreover, in this first part of the route you have to cross the Equator, then an area with little wind and great meteorological instability.
Sunda Strait – Cape of Good Hope: 5,000 nautical miles
The Indian Ocean crossing between the Sunda Strait and the Cape of Good Hope is 5.000 nautical miles long. Up to the south of Madagascar, the route remains under tropical latitudes where the trade winds coming from the South East mean downwind sailing but can also be disturbed by the formation of tropical cyclones. Then to get around the southern part of the African continent you have to enter the temperate latitudes where you might deal with depressions that generate dominant winds blowing from the West. Around South Africa and up to the Cape of Good Hope, navigation is made even more difficult by the presence of strong sea currents.
Cape of Good Hope – Equator: 2,800 nautical miles
Navigation in the South Atlantic between the Cape of Good Hope and the Equator is influenced by the position of the Saint Elena high pressure. Following the classical schema, the route remains on the eastern edge of the high pressure until it reaches the southeastern trade winds that push towards North.
Equator – London: 3,500 nautical miles
Back in the northern hemisphere, the first difficulty in the North Atlantic is once again the passage in the zone of calm, called zone of intertropical convergence (ZCIT) by the meteorologists, the notorious doldrums. Once out of this zone of instability, continue northward in the trade winds blowing from the North East. The position and vigor of the Azores high pressure system then determine the fastest route to follow up to the Channel entrance, but that route can also be complicated by the possible presence of winter depressions. The stopwatch will be stopped on the finish line, under the Queen Elizabeth II bridge in the Thames estuary.
The challenge is supported by Maserati, the main sponsor that gives the name to the trimaran and Aon as co-sponsor, along with the official supplier for the clothing, Ermenegildo Zegna.
A special thanks also to Boero Bartolomeo S.p.A. and Contship Italia Group.
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