The end of the trade winds

Just as i write a big rain cloud on the horizon has brought a sudden
windshift, this is the first we encounter since leaving the unstable airs
around the equator and unfortunately it probably signals the end of the
stable band of the trade winds... We have 1350 miles to the finish which
will bring more variety and hard work.

Ahead of us a patch of really light airs which wont fill for another two
days and which has already caused us to slow down and forced Cessna onto
the opposite gybe.

Full speed ride towards Charleston

The past few days have finally brought the fast ride we had been promised
on the brochure, averaging over 10 knots in the right direction since
saturday afternoon. I believe we've been the fastest boat in the fleet for
a while, we caught up around 50 miles from Cessna's lead and extended by
about 15 on Phesheya since the beginning of the weekend.

During saturday night we had the big spinnaker up when we were caught by a
squall, we hanged on for dear life as the boat lept off the waves surfing
at nearly 20 knots in winds briefly gusting just over 30 knots, it was the
strongest squall we had been caught by this far so admittedly we were
unprepared to take down the spinnaker and we just rode it out in walls of
spray through the total darkness of the moonless night.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

I'm turning 34 today and this is definitely a birthday I will remember, my
first at sea in fact. During my first watch, when it was still night, i
started receiving the first birthday wishes, from Ella, from my brother,
from Roberto, my sailmaker, then my friend Enrico called me on the sat
phone early in the morning... Unfortunately i cant access facebook from
here but Ella sent through some of the many messages, there are loads
apparently. Thank you especially for those you sent directly to the boat
through my website at www.marconannini.com/sms, they really cheered me up.

Many thoughts are going through my head today, this has been a rather
special year.

From the roaring forties to the roaring V8's of Mustangs

We've been at sea just over a fortnight now and for the past few days
we've been sailing in a very regular band of the trade winds, with around
20 knots from our starboard side, the unexpected adverse current that we
had all experienced after the equator comes and goes and we still see no
sign of the favourable Guyana current that should be helping us along
the way... life aboard is very monotonous these days, revolving around
meals, naps and a few emails to family and friends interrupted by the
occasional need to trim the sails.

I guess if sailing around the world was as easy as the last few hundred
miles no one would bother, a donkey on tranquilizers could steer through
these waters but as usual the sea is not without its perils.

Sailing arond the world is like music to your ears

During the night we crossed the equator for a second time in six months,
technicalities and definitions apart i think i can now say I have sailed
around the world.

When i entered the race in April 2010, i probably didnt have a full grasp
of what i was setting out to do.

Financial Crisis Class40 for urgent sale in June - offers invited

Financial Crisis, currently holding second overall in the Global Ocean
Race is for sale or long term charter immediately after the end of the
race, due to finish in Les Sables D'Olonne around June 8th 2012.

With personal debts in the tens of thousands of pounds and currently
unemployed I must sell the boat ASAP! All meaningful offers considered for
a quick sale.

Second place throught the Celox scoring gate

The last few days have been, as predicted, a drag race towards the
north-east corner of Brasil, all tactical decision had been played out
earlier around the tricky corner near Rio de Janeiro where the wind tends
to be always on the nose and there is a nasty counter current. Since then
we've proceeded in a near perfect straight line to this next corner where
we'll all "turn left" towards Charleston. The Celox virtual scoring gate
is placed on this turning point which marks the beginning of the next
phase of the race and we're quite pleased to be crossing in second place
after the boys on Cessna who unfortunately have slipped from our reach and
are further ahead.

Finally into the trade winds

The struggle to reach the stable trade winds seems to have lasted an
eternity, the fleet progress has been very slow compared to the schedule
we had imagined when leaving Punta del Este and only Cessna at the front
has been keeping steady averages since reaching these steady winds a day
ahead of us.

So far and for several days we seemed to have fairly stable winds at night
then we'd get stopped during the day in flukey winds and sudden rain
showers caused presumably by the high temperatures and moist air becoming
unstable.

An inch at a time we fight to go north

The last two days have been far from easy, as we approached the
continental shelf off Cabo Frio near Rio de Janeiro we were met by the
nasty Brazilian south-flowing current. The deep current is
pushed to the surface and strengthens to a strong flow where the bottom of
the ocean goes from thousands of meters to under a hundred in the space of
few miles. The adverse flow reached nearly 2 knots just as the forecast
indicated light winds ahead.

We had a tough choice to make, either head inshore in shallow waters or
offshore in deep waters where the current would be less.

Easter at sea

We've been at sea nearly 6 days, half the world is on holiday for a long
Easter weekend, for us it's been more wind and waves as we sail north east
hoping to soon reach the trade winds.

Gale force winds to hit GOR fleet soon

I will certainly remember leg five of the Global Ocean Race as the one
where time expanded, we're not even half way and i feel like i've been on
this boat for 9 consecutive months. Perhaps the anticipation for the
imminent finish of the whole race plays tricks with my mind or perhaps
it's simply because we had some of the most frustrating weather of any
leg...

After leading the early days of this leg we were as predicted overtaken by
Cessna. We managed to keep quite close to them for some time until we very
quickly lost lots of ground. We seemed to get stuck in a never ending
sequence of twists and turns in the weather that slowed us down
considerably, at first we were further south and we found lighter winds,
further north we indeed found better winds but also an eddie of the Gulf
Stream and sailed nearly 36 hours in an adverse current that peaked at 2
and half knots and probably cost us well over 50 miles to everyone else
who still enjoyed a favourable current.

Then, as soon as the wind veered to the north Cessna literally took off at
their strongest point of sail... We watched them burn the miles and
disappear off the screen as our eyes started to focus on a different
problem. There's a very deep depression forming to the west of us which
will hit us in a day with some very strong winds. In fact the weather
model shows we'll see at least 40 knots of wind but things could get quite
nasty as the depression will continue deepening as it travels east.

Once more my focus shifted away from the race and towards our safety and
that of the boat. Whatever position we finish in this leg we will secure
2nd place in the overall points ranking, but if we do not finish we could
hand our 2nd place over to Phesheya. In other words, strictly speaking,
our goal is simply to finish this leg. The boats are tired and frankly so
am I, so we took the foot off the gas and instead of launching on a rather
pointless chase of Cessna we actually decided to lose ground to the south
and slow down so that we'll avoid the worst of the gale force winds by
letting the depression overtake us before it deepens and strengthens. The
miles deficit to Cessna has grown very rapidly but we tried to not let it
bother us too much.

I appreaciate this doesn't sound very heroic but from a cold blooded
tactical point of view this is the best choice, nurse the boat as if she
was made of crystal all the way to Les Sables and enjoy the celebrations
of a round-the-world-race second place rather than take any unnecessary
risks with little or no upside. In fact for us to finish first overall it
would take for Cessna to retire from this leg, simply beating them to the
finish line would make no difference on points.

We are now moving further south and as soon as the depression will pass
over our heads in 24 hours we'll start running towards les sables, we
should have 2 days of very strong following winds and clock some fast
miles, hopefully we'll get through without breaking anything...