We have arrived in Les Sables D'Olonne taking second place

Just a brief message to say we are in Les Sables D'Olonne, even the last
few hours of this Global Ocean Race have been quite intense with a front
sweeping over our heads giving us winds gusting 45 knots this morning,
rather unusual for june. Luckily the sky cleared and the wind started
dropping just before the final approach to Les Sables where we crossed the
finish line around 6pm local time.

I will send an update tomorrow, not it's time to celebrate. Until then a
massive thank you for all the support received in making it here.

Last minute adventures in the final day of the Global Ocean Race

Today is the last full day at sea for us, in around 24 hours we should be
making landfall and reach Les Sables D'Olonne and bring to a conclusion
this epic jurney.

We've been making very good progrees with strong following winds pushing
us for days but the adventure is not quite over yet. Last night as the
front was passing through we were flying towards the finish line with our
medium spinnaker in strong building winds, admittedly we were on the limit
but it was such a joy to see the boat surfing at 15-20 knots that i wished
to take that memory home with me.

All was fine, the front came through with gusts of nearly 40 knots that
would send the boat driving through walls of spray.

Riding the storm - fast progress towards the finish

Progress in the last couple of days has been fantastic.

Sail damage in serious nose dive during storm

I've just had a dinner of rice with a thai green sauce and a peanut bar
for desert, slowly recovering from the busy day. The gale we faced
yesterday left us with a few issues to deal with. We had chosen a route
that kept us away from the very worst of the deepening depression but as
we sailed deeper into the low the wind was steadily above 40 knots and
gusting occasionally at nearly 50 knots.

We had been rather conservative in every step, we furled the solent quite
early on when the wind was still building, unfortunately the furling drum
was wrapped with a spinnaker sheet and it took a minute or two to resolve,
when it came to furling the sail we were hit by a gust and the violent
flogging put a tear in the leach of the sail.

Gale force winds to hit GOR fleet soon

I will certainly remember leg five of the Global Ocean Race as the one
where time expanded, we're not even half way and i feel like i've been on
this boat for 9 consecutive months. Perhaps the anticipation for the
imminent finish of the whole race plays tricks with my mind or perhaps
it's simply because we had some of the most frustrating weather of any
leg...

After leading the early days of this leg we were as predicted overtaken by
Cessna. We managed to keep quite close to them for some time until we very
quickly lost lots of ground.

Fighting to maintain the lead in the Global Ocena Race

It's the fourth day of this fifth and final leg of the Global Ocean Race,
we are still leading but by rapidly narrowing margin, just 4 miles over
Cessna at the last report and it seems highly likely that we'll soon have
to hand over our crown, after giving them a good run for their money we
are floating helplessly in very light winds and I think they'll finally
manage to squeeze past.

After facing tropical storm "Alberto" the first night of the race the
weather has changed in a maze of unpredictable winds, the conditions we
met very often differed substantially from the forecast.

Leading the fleet in the wake of tropical storm Alberto

Last night was tough, in fact some of the worst we've seen in the entire
race.

Global Ocean Race: We are second in Charleston!

Finally here we are, Sergio and I literally just crossed the finish line in
front of Charleston Harbour, it's the middle of the night, just after
midnight local time, the race officials are about to board the boat to check
the engine seals and then we'll be able to drop the sails and motor towards
the marina. Hopefully we're still in time to get our first beer in the
United States but we may have to wait for immigration officials before we're
allowed to get off the boat, they are pretty strict over here with this
stuff...

It took us just under 30 days to sail from Punta del Este to take second
place in Charleston, three days faster than we had anticipated, finishing
within 24 hours of race leader Cessna Citation.

A gentle ride into South Carolina

We have 340 miles left to Charleston, we are pleased with how things have
gone in the past 2 days, after the tactical move to cover Phesheya we feel
a little more in control of our destiny.

Heading left on the chessboard

The last 24 hours have been incredibly frustrating, the whole day we
negotiated the passage of many rain clouds which played havoc with the
wind, on average we had a lot less than predicted by the forecast and
after each downpour we hoped things would stabilise but the never ending
sequence of squalls followed by windholes kept going on and on. Even more
annoyingly, we found an average of 1.5 knots of adverse current, only
after midnight the counter flow seems to have started decreasing.

The total effect of all the above has been dramatic on our advantage over
Phesheya, the miles have evaporated faster than the cold sweat over my
forehead at the thought of being overtaken after all this hard work. We
dropped more than 40 miles of advantage in just one day.

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". This is always tricky, the decision to sail or
retire lies with the skipper(s) of the boat, you are divided between the
desire to convince them to carry on racing and the thought that if they
carry on and something happens you may have added unecessary pressure on
them to carry on... so i suggested what my grandmother always told me as a
child, "go to sleep and decide tomorrow"...

A few hours later we receive an email from the race committee, two boats
are heading north riding the gale, they have not yet retired but are
heading for Aukland, one has suffered damage to boat and crew, the other
fears the same fate and decided it is unsafe to carry on.

I only then realise it's for real, I stop watching the latest Jennifer
Aniston film on the pc (a masterpiece of great acting and intense
storyline that surely deserves my undivided attention) and wake up Hugo
who emerges from under the sleeping bag stretching his arms "wassup dude?"
he's clearly watched too many of the american college movies we have on
the hard drive.

At that stage we were sailing under triple reefed main and staysail in
35-45 knots of wind occasionally gusting 50, we were consciously trying to
keep warm and dry, fed and slept, and only went outside in the cockpit
when strickly necessary. We discussed the situation but as we had no
damage and we didnt feel the boat was in any specific immediate danger we
decide to press on.

It is sad to see two boats doing a U turn, the fear of damage is always
strong and i hope that we'll carry on sailing in safety with no surprises
all the way to the finish line.

This storm is over, we are again under full mainsail and headsail heading
for now in the right direction. Who knows what the future of the race will
bring but i hope to find a movie to watch that does not require external
drama to thicken the plot.

Bravi.La decisione di non by Miki (not verified)