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).

Life after the GOR: Class40s, Minis and the idea of a Italian training camp...

 

WHAT HAVE I BEEN UP TO?

It's been a while since i last posted an update. When not rounding the Horn, I found the cold winter months are best spent in front of a cosy fire with a good glass of wine and good non-freeze-dried food. Following the Global Ocean Race (GOR) 2011/2012 I have been invited to several yacht clubs in Italy to hold talks about my adventure and tribulations on board my Class40 "Financial Crisis". I held talks in Torino, Padova, Verona, Vicenza, Molfetta, Meina, Lovere as well as for the Soroptimist club in Turin and the Rotary Club in Padova. Next week a further date on the calendar, 4th of April, in Genova, Italy and then onto Bologna in May.

Luckily it has not just been talking, and at the end of February I was part of a group of sailors who organised an event to discover Class40s, despite a dreadfully windy and snowy weekend, apparently the worst the locals had seen since 1985, the event was a success and over 150 guests were taken for a blast in the Gulf of La Spezia aboard five Class40s. This promotional event left many begging for more adrenaline and we now offer the opportunity to sail Class40s out of Portovenere, La Spezia, for day long or weekend experiences as well as giving the opportunity to take part in some of the races on the calendar in the area, such as the 151 Miles race which starts on the 30th of May. La Spezia is just an hour away from the airport of Pisa, one of Ryanair's European hubs and flights from London can be as cheap as £25 so if you wish to enjoy a bit of the Italian "Bella Vita" drop me an email for a calendar of all events. 

THE FUTURE

It is difficult to have a clear idea of what the future will hold, I am not campaigning towards a specific race as sponsorships seem to be to scarce to attempt putting together a budget for a big race.

DEVELOPING A TRAINING CAMP?

My boat is still for sale and despite a few serious sniffers I have not yet received a firm offer, one option brewing in the pot is to sail the boat to italy and use her as a training boat and work towards the creation of a french style training camp. Achieving that would require local support, from the authorities, or from the Navy who used to be based in La Spezia but has now moved to Taranto, leaving tremendous amounts of facilities, pontoons, accommodation, storage, all falling progressively into a state of abandon and which would be perfect to kickstart a project of this type. However, you might have noticed italian politics is not exactly linear in its processes, so finding the right support may prove impossible despite the ample availability of infrastructures. 

METEOROLOGY AND SAFETY

Meanwhile, whilts trying to put together a wider plan, I am starting to put together some shore based courses, the first inaugural one will be held on the 27th of April on Meteorology, later in the season I plan to offer also course on other subjects such as safety. 

MINI 650 RACING

As for the sailing itch, the incomprehensible attraction for the wet and the uncomfortable, I am lucky enough to have been invited to sail at the Arcipelato 6.50 race for Mini Transat boats later this week with American skipper Jeffrey MacFarlane. I have never sailed on a mini but I am reassured they are tremensously uncomfortable, brilliant! Tracking at http://www.sgstracking.com/tracking/arcipelago650-2012.php

For further information contact me at marco@marconannini.com or on +393204093306