Underway in the fourth leg of the Global Ocean Race

We've been at sea for two days, i wrote an earlier update which somehow
was never sent so here is a summary of our start of the fourth leg of the
Global Ocean Race, Punta del Este Uruguay to Charleston US.

The start in Punta was relatively quiet although I was a bit annoyed with
the spectators boat all over the starting area but all was well once we
got off. Whilst Cessna was first over the line Phesheya took a spectacular
shortcut between a rocky reef and the beach at the southern tip of the
Punta del Este peninsula and the two boats were soon in the lead with
Sec Hayai in third and us trailing behind.

A tale of celebrations, hard work and love from Punta del Este

It's been three weeks since we arrived in Punta del Este following our tough Southern Ocean leg from Wellington around Cape Horn. Life ashore brings always a great variety of emotions, from the happyness of celebrating the arrival, to the hard work we need to put in to prepare the boat for the next leg to the inevitable stress of the expenses we face each time we stop. Luckily we are being hosted in the rooms of the Yacht Club Punta del Este who has been extremely welcoming and nice to us as otherwise life in the Monte Carlo of South America is painfully expensive.

Sergio Frattaruolo joins Nannini for final legs of Global Ocean Race

With two weeks to the start of the fourth leg of the Global Ocean Race there's a crew change on Financial Crisis. The Italian former Mini 650 sailor Sergio Frattaruolo will replace Hugo Ramon to sail the final 2 stages of the race with Marco Nannini, from Punta del Este to Chaleston and from there to Les Sables d'Olonne.

Sergio, following his participation in the solo Transat 650 last November will step to the larger Class40s with the goal of gaining experience ahead of the launch of his own solo attempt of the 2013/2014 Global Ocean Race.

We are in Punta del Este! Celebrations Celebrations Celebrations!

We made it! We are in Punta del Este Uruguay, 35 days at sea! We have
sailed through gale force winds, we reached across the depths of the
Southern Ocean with albatrosses to guard our progress, we clenched our
teeth through the icebergs, we fought with the icy winds from Anctartica,
we rounded the most dreaded cape in the world, we sailed through the snow
capped cliffs of la Tierra del Fuego, we caught kelp in our rudders and
watched spectacular sunsets and sunrises, we smelt land by the shores of
Argentina and crossed the muddy waters of the Plata river, but most of all
we kept our dream alive, one step closer to home, one step closer to
racing around the world.

Glorious sunshine for final push to Uruguay

We have just over 400 miles to go to the finish line in Punta del Este,
the permanent cloud cover of the past few days has broken up during the
night and i stood my watch in the cockpit as a magnificent sunrise brought
summer to our world. Since we left the icy weather of the high latitudes
it has been remarkable to watch the temperature rise very fast as we
sailed north. Water temperature is now at nearly 20 degrees and today I'm
sure we can get rid of all our base and mid layers and finally sport some
shorts and t-shirts.

Tough head winds make for frustrating home run

I guess we all assumed that once turned the corner from the Horn
everything was going to be easy, I certainly did, so I was a little
surprised when last night the wind piped up to a fierce 35-40 knots dead
on the nose in a nasty chop and a mysterious 2 knots adverse current. The
net result was 12 hours of very nasty sailing and very little progress.

With frustration building quickly we came to the stark realisation that
that the last stretch from the Strait of Le Maire to Punta was not to be
ftaken for granted.

Finally back in the Atlantic!

If rounding the horn is the accepted "cool dude" turning point, I feel
much better now that we are finally sailing in the Atlantic. After Cape
Horn we headed north towards the Strait of Le Maire, between the Tierra
del Fuego and the Isla De Los Estatos which marks the gate that opens
into the Atlantic leaving the Southern Ocean behind. The strait has a bit
of a reputation for its strong currents and overfalls so much so that most
yachts racing up this way tend to pass to the outside and east of the Isla
De Los Estatos.

We did it! We rounded Cape Horn!!!

What a day, we finally rounded Cape Horn! I think it will take me a while
to fully process this fact but I'm sure it'll live in my thoughts for the
rest of my life, arriving here has been at times tremendously tough and
yesterday just when the weather was finally improving we were left with a
a last minute reminder of where we are, a squall came through during the
night bringing another stint of 50 knots winds and lots of snow, it was
quite surreal... In some respects it is an anticlimax, you wait for this
moment all your life and there you are holding a sign which reads CAPE
HORN, the only indication that you have made it apart of course from the
GPS position.

Racing again to the Horn after the storm

We are through the peak of the storm and we're happy to report that we
didn't sustain any damage...

Cape Horn gale: we'll wait for the worst to go through

A nasty gale is brewing south of us, the worst of it is headed straight
for Cape Horn just at the same time we were due to round the infamous
cape. After much debate we decided it was simply too risky for us to carry
on heading for such a dangerous randez-vous and have instead slowed down
and we'll let the worst of the gale blow through before resuming our
course with improving weather behind us rather than the risk of being
cornered in a lee shore in nasty waves forming on the continental shelf
and no where to run.

In 12 hours the centre of the low should be east of us and moving north
eastwards away from us.

Celebrating a circumnavigation in Les Sables D'Olonne

It's hard to believe I've been in Les Sables for 5 days since finishing the final leg of the Global Ocean Race, I had promised an update soon after arriving but the days have passed very quickly with all the celebrations, time spent with my family, with my fiancee Ella and a surprise visit from a group of friends from Italy. All in all the dust has not settled yet, I think it'll take some time for life to find its new pace after the Global Ocean Race but here I am, I can really say it now, I have circumnavigated the planet!!!

This saturday marks the final event, the Prize Giving for the final leg and for the whole of the Global Ocean Race where we'll have a chance to think over what the past 9 months have meant to each of us and raise a glass to the completion of this adventure. 

The folliwing day Ella and I will set off to bring the boat back to Gosport, the home port from where this whole circumnavigation started for me, it will really feel like going home. I think I may actually feel more emotional sailing again through the Needles channel than I did over the finish line of Les Sables a few days ago. 

There are so many I must thank for the support they have given me, starting from Ventana Group for covering the cost of Ella's flights to each stopover thus making sure we are still an item, Willie's World Class Cacao whose supply of fine chocolate lasted me until the final leg of the race providing me with the extra energy to push through the difficult times, Weetabix, for their supply of Ready Brek which kept me warm in the southern ocean, Slovenka Silver who supplied base layers which i wore throughout the race, Chatham Marine, which supplied the shore clothing I wore at every stopover, SunglassesForSport, who supplied shades for the sunny days, First Class Sailing who helped with the race budget and relayed my blog to their friends during the whole race, RTW Food for their supply of freeze dried food, Endeavour Quay for their help with the pre-race logistics at their yard, Sailmon for supplying one of their fantastic high visibility instrument repeaters that we used to helm in difficult light conditions, Deltawave Communications for all the support in dealing with my satellite communications, Eutourist Serv-System, USZZ (the office for Slovak Nationals living abroad), UniCredit, and the Mustang Club of Italy for backing the project, Di-Tech for designing a fantastic suit of sails which took me all the way around the world, Armare for the ropes that held them up, down, and sideways. 

A massive thanks also to the most powerful of motivators, the great public that followed me step by step, through the high and low moments, and that in the darkest of moments came to my rescue with messages of support that were sent during each storm or frustrating equatorial calm to the boat. 

There are many more I must still thank, but dont worry, this is not my last blog, not quite yet, so I'll let you know more about them soon.

Meanwhile, visit www.marconannini.com for a video of the finish or follow this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2f4WUYqQwY&list=UUjV8ZTJgfwLGDwRpRHG1WHA&index=3&feature=plcp