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.

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