The end of the trade winds

Just as i write a big rain cloud on the horizon has brought a sudden
windshift, this is the first we encounter since leaving the unstable airs
around the equator and unfortunately it probably signals the end of the
stable band of the trade winds... We have 1350 miles to the finish which
will bring more variety and hard work.

Ahead of us a patch of really light airs which wont fill for another two
days and which has already caused us to slow down and forced Cessna onto
the opposite gybe.

Full speed ride towards Charleston

The past few days have finally brought the fast ride we had been promised
on the brochure, averaging over 10 knots in the right direction since
saturday afternoon. I believe we've been the fastest boat in the fleet for
a while, we caught up around 50 miles from Cessna's lead and extended by
about 15 on Phesheya since the beginning of the weekend.

During saturday night we had the big spinnaker up when we were caught by a
squall, we hanged on for dear life as the boat lept off the waves surfing
at nearly 20 knots in winds briefly gusting just over 30 knots, it was the
strongest squall we had been caught by this far so admittedly we were
unprepared to take down the spinnaker and we just rode it out in walls of
spray through the total darkness of the moonless night.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

I'm turning 34 today and this is definitely a birthday I will remember, my
first at sea in fact. During my first watch, when it was still night, i
started receiving the first birthday wishes, from Ella, from my brother,
from Roberto, my sailmaker, then my friend Enrico called me on the sat
phone early in the morning... Unfortunately i cant access facebook from
here but Ella sent through some of the many messages, there are loads
apparently. Thank you especially for those you sent directly to the boat
through my website at www.marconannini.com/sms, they really cheered me up.

Many thoughts are going through my head today, this has been a rather
special year.

From the roaring forties to the roaring V8's of Mustangs

We've been at sea just over a fortnight now and for the past few days
we've been sailing in a very regular band of the trade winds, with around
20 knots from our starboard side, the unexpected adverse current that we
had all experienced after the equator comes and goes and we still see no
sign of the favourable Guyana current that should be helping us along
the way... life aboard is very monotonous these days, revolving around
meals, naps and a few emails to family and friends interrupted by the
occasional need to trim the sails.

I guess if sailing around the world was as easy as the last few hundred
miles no one would bother, a donkey on tranquilizers could steer through
these waters but as usual the sea is not without its perils.

Sailing arond the world is like music to your ears

During the night we crossed the equator for a second time in six months,
technicalities and definitions apart i think i can now say I have sailed
around the world.

When i entered the race in April 2010, i probably didnt have a full grasp
of what i was setting out to do.

Financial Crisis Class40 for urgent sale in June - offers invited

Financial Crisis, currently holding second overall in the Global Ocean
Race is for sale or long term charter immediately after the end of the
race, due to finish in Les Sables D'Olonne around June 8th 2012.

With personal debts in the tens of thousands of pounds and currently
unemployed I must sell the boat ASAP! All meaningful offers considered for
a quick sale.

Second place throught the Celox scoring gate

The last few days have been, as predicted, a drag race towards the
north-east corner of Brasil, all tactical decision had been played out
earlier around the tricky corner near Rio de Janeiro where the wind tends
to be always on the nose and there is a nasty counter current. Since then
we've proceeded in a near perfect straight line to this next corner where
we'll all "turn left" towards Charleston. The Celox virtual scoring gate
is placed on this turning point which marks the beginning of the next
phase of the race and we're quite pleased to be crossing in second place
after the boys on Cessna who unfortunately have slipped from our reach and
are further ahead.

Finally into the trade winds

The struggle to reach the stable trade winds seems to have lasted an
eternity, the fleet progress has been very slow compared to the schedule
we had imagined when leaving Punta del Este and only Cessna at the front
has been keeping steady averages since reaching these steady winds a day
ahead of us.

So far and for several days we seemed to have fairly stable winds at night
then we'd get stopped during the day in flukey winds and sudden rain
showers caused presumably by the high temperatures and moist air becoming
unstable.

An inch at a time we fight to go north

The last two days have been far from easy, as we approached the
continental shelf off Cabo Frio near Rio de Janeiro we were met by the
nasty Brazilian south-flowing current. The deep current is
pushed to the surface and strengthens to a strong flow where the bottom of
the ocean goes from thousands of meters to under a hundred in the space of
few miles. The adverse flow reached nearly 2 knots just as the forecast
indicated light winds ahead.

We had a tough choice to make, either head inshore in shallow waters or
offshore in deep waters where the current would be less.

Easter at sea

We've been at sea nearly 6 days, half the world is on holiday for a long
Easter weekend, for us it's been more wind and waves as we sail north east
hoping to soon reach the trade winds.

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.

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.

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