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.

Ghosting and drifting with the Ciccio's Code

A month into the first leg of the Global Ocean Race and we are negotiating
a high pressure system right in our path, preventing us from making any
progress towards Cape Town.

The weather gave me a chance to climb the mast and see what happened with
the wind instruments.

Straight to Cape Town? Computer says no

We are now into our fifth week at sea, tomorrow it'll be a month we'left
Palma, it's a bloody long time! Longer than I have ever been, with 22 days
at the Route du Rhum my previous longest... Yet, here, with the current
complex forecast, we estimate another two whole weeks before we get into
Cape Town, two more weeks of blocking away images of steaks and chips,
beer, hot showers, a bed, clean clothes, a decent coffee with a nice
croissant, freshly squeezed orange juice, I even dare say salad (but
definitely not high on the list!)....

Back to basics on Financial Crisis after loss of wind instruments

Short blog today, just after sunset yesterday all hell broke loose like
someone had pressed a giant button that said mayhem. The wind very
suddenly piped up from 20 to 30 knots, we were pinned down with too much
sail and took a while to restore order. Once reefed and taking a pasting
in the winds and waves we lost the wind readings on the NKE instruments. At
first I thought I could fix it, we had already lost our primary,
vertical wind instrument in the doldrums and were running on the
spare, sturdy horizontal so i hoped it was just a wiring problem, i spent
hours below rewiring the little boxes but to no avail, I did at least
manage to restore the use of the autopilot in compass mode.

Weather for ducks and... chocolate

We are beating our brains to mash into the south-easterlies, not too bad
so far, staysail and one reef in solid 20 knots, boat slamming, waves
crashing across the cockpit, it's wet out there, cant find a strong enough
reason to be there, sleeping under a warm duvet seems just fine as the
autopilot battles the freaking elements, no traces of any shipping,
radar reflector and AIS totally silent. I think it is safe to say we
are in the middle of freaking no where. Even Paul who normally is in the
cockpit unless is taking a nap or eating is finding the comforts of the
port master cabin to be far more agreeable then the jet wash in the
garden.

SLOVENKA Silver keeps us going as the Kiwis turn up the heat

Every three hours we receive a small text file containing the positions of
all the boats in the fleet, as you can imagine our life on board revolves
around the time we receive the file, simply referred to as ping o'clock,
so it covers all 6 ping times of the day.

Each time we receive the file we plot it on our navigation software, so we
can work out how many miles each boat has travelled in the past three
hours and on what course over ground.

Admittedly, since the doldrums this has been a little boring, a bit of a
drag race. There have been no changes in the rankings since we were a few
days in the race near the coast of Africa!!!

As I point my finger on the spinning globe my childhood dream unfolds

I have totally lost count of the days, we are into the 4th week at sea I
believe, last night i had to wear a thermal as it is starting to get
chilly at night, i still find it amusing to see the weather changing as we
move on the globe.... you start somewhere on the planet, with a certain
weather, sail south and feel the weather getting warmer, sail west and the
sun sets later to raise later. Then keep going, it gets horribly hot, then
not so hot again, then as you go east your sunrises and sunsets shift
again as you move...

The logistics of love at the Global Ocean Race

Yesteday we sighted our first big whale, the large back curved less than
a hundred meters from the boat, the tail followed as the enormous mammal
sunk again in the depth of the ocean, then it emerged once more, shame I
was not quick enough to get the camera.

Oxford to Dover on a Jag at 4am on a sunday morning

We are sailing along at great speeds, everyone is, the image I have is that of a track of greyhounds on a race day running and running, tongues out, lots of enthusiasm but probably little thought process going on... We came out of the Fernando da Norunha gate and everyone was heading south like the plague had just broken out north of the equator... now you know there's some pretty experienced people out there at the front so there must be a reason, Halvard Mabire and Ross Field can kick Chuck Norris's ass (clearly only in an imaginary sailing only world). We looked at the forecast and it became clear what those two mad dogs were doing, running down with foaming mouths to squeeze ahead of the high pressure that is forming somewhere further down in South America.

Trade winds make for some truly First Class Sailing!

We'be been at sea exactly three weeks today and we've just passed the
island of Fernnando da Noronha, which we had to leave to port to pass
through the Fastnet Marine scoring gate.

We are currently holding 4th position, which suits us as we are still
leading the pack of generation one boats and are still within 100 miles of
Cessna Citation, the brand new Akilaria RC2, the newer version of our
boat.

The race so far has been an amazing experience with lots of variety in
this leg, the exit from the med, the African coast, the Canaries, the Cape
Verde archipelago, trade wind sailing, the dreaded Doldrums and now some
Brazilian paradise island to round to port...

We're very much looking forward to this second half of the race, and see
what the weather has in stock for us, it w

Across the equator thanks to the generosity of strangers

Today is a special day of the Global Ocean Race on board Financial Crisis: our team composed by Marco Nannini, Paul Peggs and Clubby the Seal officially crossed the equator and into the Southern Hemisphere. Paul had crossed the equator before in the Mini Transat 2001 and so he was master of ceremonies in paying our tributes to Neptune. This was no grand lavish affair but rather the pouring of the only bottle of beer on board into the blue ocean, brought all the way here just for this occasion, we hope Neptune will close an eye to our cheap offering. Paul and I dont drink when racing, Clubby on the other hand is just a freaking liar when he say he doesn't, but we love Clubby in all his imperfections.

Financial Crisis celebrates end of Doldrums

Last night we finally sailed our way out of the doldrums which lived up to
their expectation until the last mile. Sailing at night we were monitoring
large clouds on the radar and sailed through this massive expanse about
8-10 miles across, too big to avoid, the winds piped up to 25 knots, we
took two reefs and then witnessed the most prolonged intense downpour of
rain i've ever seen...

Look at me look at me, coffee tea or me?

Giusy, Clubby's latest fling, has seemingly decided to move in with us on a
permanent basis. Showing no fear and no respect, she's one attention seeking
annoying little princess, it turns out she works in the fashion industry, does
some modelling and acting and is used to the finer things. Tall and slim she eats
very little but shits a lot, which suggests she may be on a laxatives diet, I
confronted her about it but she says it's none of my business.

Clubby meets Giusy whilst crew wait for winds

Clubby has a few cards in his flipper when it comes to charming the
ladies, this morning wasting no time he was seen on deck having a long
romantic walk with the bird he pulled last night, who clearly has fallen
for his charm and stench of rotten flying fish. She's been here 24 hours
and shows no fear of us, nor more surprisingly of Clubby, whose intentions
are questionable.

"Giusy is a very sweet bird" said Clubby straight away "and she's well
fit, tall and slim, so lucky to have met her in the middle of this
wilderness, I had had enough time with those two fatsos i'm stuck with on
board, all they talk about is freaking sailing, yada, yada, yada, pull
this rope, pull that rope, BORING!

A windless slop makes doldrums a dull place

Bird came by, looking sad and pissed off like any of us in the doldrums,
perched on the bowsprit it has not muttered a word all day, probably flew
thousands of miles and only just realised it's not this week he's due to
be at the conference in Rio but the next. It happens when you're tired.

Today was a very slow day, so slow that jokes made yesterday have not yet
been understood. We knew we had to go through this light patch but we
hoped we'd keep moving. We worked three days to get closer to Cessna, at
0900 we were again just 66 miles behind and closing in.

Then we stopped in a windless slop where the only 2-3 knots of breeze came
from where we wanted to go to, and so light was the air that we could only
sail at 90 degrees left or right of where we were headed.

Studying doldrums development, thanks to Deltawave communications

Tense day waiting for the wind shift which did not quite come when and as expected, got trapped in some light airs early this morning which costs us a fortune in terms of distance to Cessna, but we are still chasing. We spent some time overlaying cloud satellite imagery with wind model predictions trying to figure out the easiest passage through the doldrums, but so many times we have been caught out in stronger or lighter winds than forecast that we have to play it one mile at a time. It is a lottery at the moment, but we have at least an idea of how far east or west we want to be to avoid getting totally stuck.

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