Severe weather forecast for Cape Horn in 48 hours

Our moment of glory as leaders of the Global Ocean Race was short-lived,
as predicted the reaching conditions favoured the newer more powerful
Cessna who simply pulled away averaging 1-2 knots faster despite our every
effort to bear away and sail as fast as possible. Now finally the wind has
turned round and we are sailing downwind but unfortunately we are paying
the price of our torn masthead spinnaker so again we are losing ground,
we'll need a bit of luck after the horn for a chance to catch up again.

Today however my thoughts are far more preoccupied with something else,
there's a storm brewing due to be sweep across Cape Horn exactly at the
same time as we expect to go round.

A day I'll never forget

Finally our dive to penguin latitudes paid its dividends and today we
jumped in the lead of the third leg of the Global Ocean Race with a lead
of 30 miles over Cessna Citation who had chosen a more northerly option.
We are still on full time radar watch for icebergs, the risk of finding
one on our way should be progressively decreasing but water temperature is
at the lowest we've seen at just 6C, air temperature is 4C and with the
wind chill we had the dubious pleasure of fine snow earlier today.

We are obviously incredibly happy, 6 months ago I would have never even
entertained the possibility of leading the race on the approach to Cape
Horn, we are savouring the moment like a rare whiskey but we are under no
illusion that we will be able to maintain our lead, we will certainl

A game of chess with Cessna

In a few miles we'll touch the latitude of 60 degrees south, it sounds
quite frightening but my cure is to remember that when I sailed the
Shetland Round Britain and Ireland in 2010 we were in higher latitudes in
the northern hemisphere, I guess what makes here so overwhelming is the
sense of isolation but if you say to yourself i'm sailing around the
Shetlands it does not sound quite as horrible! We are 1000 miles from Cape
Horn and as soon as the wind will turn it should soon become a fast ride
to our next stop.

The battle with Cessna continues on the high seas, yesterday our opponents
decided to break the cover and tacked north-east for about 8 hours. We
welcomed their move as we know that as long as we are in the same winds we
cannot beat a latest generation boat.

Southern ocean battle continues with light winds and icebergs sightings

Yesterday a brief email from Cessna some 50 miles to our port (to the
north of us) brought home the reality of our current position on the
planet. They had just spotted two icebergs, Antarctica is just over 1000
miles to the south of us and although we are out of dense iceberg
territory a few bergs survive long into the summer and drift north towards
our current position which was confirmed by recent satellite imagery. We
are keeping a constant radar lookout and visually inspect the horizon
regularly.

Closing the gap and battling it for the lead of the Global Ocean Race

Who would have imagined that in the third and most symbolic of legs,
heading for Cape Horn, we would be battling for the lead of the Global
Ocean Race. The storms of the early part of this leg seem now a distant
memory, two boats retired in huge seas and 50 knots winds. Today in the
southern depths of the Pacific Ocean at 55 degrees south, on the edge of
iceberg territory we are sailing in sunshine, flat waters and just enough
wind, 6-8 knots, to keep moving. Most importantly today marks a massive
come back for us, we closed a 284 miles gap to Cessna Citation and at the
last position report we were trailing the brand new latest generation boat
skippered by Conrad Colman by less than 2 miles.

Hard earned celebrations after crossing scoring gate

After nearly two weeks of hard core sailing, the best part of which spent
beating upwind in very tough conditions, including an early force 9 storm
that prompted two boats to retire, we are finally through the scoring
gate taking 2nd place.

Spinnaker trashed following autopilot malfunction

After what seemed like an eternal time spent beating upwind the last 48
hours have finally given us some following winds and faster sailing
conditions.

No respite in South Pacific horrible windward weather

This leg will be remembered as the ultimate test of patience and
resilience, it's been just over a week since we left Wellington, two boats
have turned around and headed back in the first big South Pacific blow
whilst we pressed on with the full knowledge that it was not going to get
better any time soon.

South Pacific storm brings drama to the plot

If this were a movie the last two days would have made for some nice drama
on the high seas, imagine the context, a fleet of racing boats headed for
Cape Horn, a South Pacific gale battering the fleet, huge waves crashing
against the boat through the night, the constant noise of haliards hitting
the mast, leech lines flapping, autopilot ram overloaded, water sloshing
in the bilges, the smell of your own boots turning your stomach inside
out, wet, cold, miserable...

The sat phone rings, no one has ever called us on the satphone, you
suspect it will not be Bart Simpson pulling one of his Moe's phone pranks,
who is it then? Another competitor on the end of the blurred satellite
line sounding emotional sums the reality of the situation "we are
considering retiring".

A day in paradise, a day in hell

The first few days of the race, once out of Cook Strait, have been
relatively easy sailing, reaching then downwind in moderate seas clocking
good mileage every poll, we were happy with our choice of heading further
south at the beginning which paid very well as now we have a lead of over
70 miles over Phesheya, our direct peer with an identical boat (although I
undertand they had an issue with a spinnaker).

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