Happy Christmas from the Southern Ocean

In the unlikely setting of a sunny Southern Ocean day, flying the biggest
spinnaker under a blue sky, we dream of home, of friends, family and loved
ones (and beer and steak).

It's friday and you'll be heading home to your families soon so we thought
we'd send you our best wishes for a Happy Christmas!

Ciao!
Marco & Hugo

Send us a message at www.marconannini.com/sms or send us a present at
www.marconannini.com/help

Surfing into the Pacific Ocean and a reminder of our luck

Yesteday we passed Cape Leeuwin, about 500 miles to our north and have
now, geographically speaking, entered the Pacific Ocean...

Battered by strongest winds yet! Riding the storm

There we go, did i mention anytime over the past few days that this
freaking place is a bit windy? We are running under triple reefed mainsail
and staysail and earlier we got flattened on the side like a dinghy in a
gust that read 57.8 knots on the one surviving wind instrument... This
hopefully is not meant to last long, and it'd better not as we are sailing
at full speed towards the ice limit at 45S, if the wind does not drop soon
we are in trouble, i dont want to have to sail any higher in this sort of
winds but we are not allowed to sail south of 45S, we'll have to make a
call if these conditions persist.

War of attrition: Southern Ocean damage

I may sound boring if i reiterate that we're still in 35-40 knots of wind,
we have not seen anything less than 25 and anything up to 55 for the past
week and inevitably we've suffered some level of damage.

Australia is now only 750 miles above our heads but the finish line still
some 3100 miles to the east, it's a long bloody way to New Zealand!

The first major item to pack up was the Watt&Sea hydrogenerator, the
bracket that holds it on the back of the boat buckled as a side wave must
have pushed the leg with great force, the leg itself is bent and for now
it is unserviceable.

Secondly, and more frustratingly, one of the two NKE wind wands has packed
up as a front swept over our heads, it read 55 knots minutes before
ceising to work.

Riding the Southern Ocean horses: 52.7 knots top wind gust

Even the novelty of riding the back of a Southern Ocean low wears out
after a while, it's amazing what you get used to, we've been below, hatch
closed, for the past two days pretty much eating and sleeping and riding
this mad highway averaging around 12 knots but with surfs well above 20
knots, the maximum wind we recorded so far was 52.7 knots but otherwise
has been anywhere between 33 and 48 knots. Unfortunately with such a
wide range we can't really put any more sail up as we have to be careful
about the top end and the gusts so we are a little slower when the wind
drops, up and down all the time...

Giant waves crashing over the boat after mad surfs

The low that two days ago gave us a kicking upwind has moved to the SE and
now we are running in the strong following winds behind the cold front.
All looks ideal on paper and i'm sure it must look exciting to see us on
the tracker dashing at twice the speed compared to just 48 hours ago...
down here however we are getting a little more entertainement than we had
anticipated, the wind has piped up to 40-45 knots, which i hear you say,
is to be expected, there seems to be always a lot more wind than
predicted... as early as this morning we were flying the small spinnaker,
but then we changed down to the solent and now we are flying our staysail
with reefed main and still occasionally hitting 20knots surfs...

We are thorugh the storm without any damage!

Storm is over, back to normality. After a couple of nasty and
uncomfortable sailing days we just hoisted the small spinnaker and are
finally heading east at decent speeds.

Getting away from the worst of the stormy low

A few hours ago we tacked south follwing Phesheya's example to distance
ourselves from the worst of the winds of the low pressure north west of
us. By the time we tacked the wind was already blowing a full force 7
gusting 8 yet according to the grib files we should have had about 20
knots of wind and it was due to get a lot worse...

Wet, cold, unpleasant bashing

So, the front came through, the wind went around from Northerly to
Southerly in a very short space, within an hour we were reaching in 30-35
knots of wind in a very very confused sea state, absolutely horrible, boat
thrown left to right, surfing, then bashing into a wave, then knocked
sideways, waves of frozen water crashing over the cockpit making even the
shortest trip to trim a sail extremely uncomfortable.

I run the heater for the first time, the exhaust pipe had come undone from
the unit resulting in all the smoke invading the cabin, very unpleasant, I
couldnt open any of the hatches due to the waves and just waited a long
while for the air to clear.

Running away from the front like a good Italian soldier

The cold front is about to reach us, behind us i can see broken clouds and
some blue sky here and there, it rained earlier and the wind has kept on
backing.

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