Breaking news from Cape Town - Financial Crisis to announce crew change for leg two of GOR

We have been in Cape Town for a week so here is a long overdue update following the emotional finish with the glorious sight of Table Mountain in the background. One of the first comments that race director Josh Hall shared with me was that the crews arriving in this edition of the Global Ocean Race were far more tired and exhausted than three years ago, I was totally drained so I was not surprised to hear this, the battle for the podium in the final stages of the race pushed us to new limits and claimed all residual energies. It has taken me several days to feel anywhere near normal, and with no lack of celebrations and social gatherings it has been even more difficult to catch up with sleep. 

A night of drama and a hard fought podium result into Cape Town

This is just a brief message to say that we've crossed the finish line to take third in the first leg of the Global Ocean Race managing to keep Cessna behind to the finish. Paul and I are absolutely exhausted but incredibly delighted. We have given absolutely all we had to give to achieve this result... It was not as straight forward as it first may seem, however close the battle was on the tracker drama unfolded thickening the plot in the darkest hours of the night. Just after the 9pm position report we had gained just enough miles to start believing it was going to be possible, we had 22 miles lead with 150 to go and at that stage we were better positioned relative to the finish line and polling higher speeds.

Less than a thousands miles to go

We just broke through the barrier of the 1000 miles to go to Cape Town,
it's still a lot and the pressure is high, Cessna is 114 miles behind at
the last ping but they are giving it all averaging over 12 knots now and
curving fast onto the rhumb line.

Southern Ocean sailing at its best

The Southern Ocean with its albatrosses and deep sea creatures is treating
us well, we are sailing on the edge of a high pressure system in following
winds and a pleasant spring sunshine, we have been averaging more than 10
knots for a couple of days now covering many miles towards Cape Town.

Fast miles towards Tristan da Cunha

First of all big congratulations to Ross and Campbell Field, and to Halvard
Mabire and Miranda Merron for their first leg achievement, all winners in my
eyes for their display of experience, determination and skill in negotiating
their route to Cape Town.

We have turned the corner, I feel, in this endless leg to Cape Town, our sails
are finally free, we are heading towards Tristan da Cunha which we intend to
leave well to port before progressively curving in towards Cape Town. Boat
speed is in the nines and tens and should get in the regular tens once the wind
frees a little bit further.

Stars, water, and this and that

After a windless night where frustration run high we picked some wind
restoring some of the lost faith in the concept of sailing a freaking boat
from A to B without murdering anyone. I sometimes shout my lungs out to
the elements, not so much with Paul on the boat, as once I scared the
living shit out of him as he woke from deep sleep to a shouting maniac,
but when I sailed solo I was definitely all for cursing as loudly as
possible, creatively cursing, the godless clouds, the dolphins and the
birds and whatever comes at hand, as a form of cathartic therapy, until
you feel better or the wind comes back.

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.

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. This came as a huge relief although sailing downwind at high
speeds presents its own challenges too.

Last night unfortunately we trashed our biggest spinnaker in an accident
caused by a brief malfunction of the autopilot, a problem similar to that
already experienced by Phesheya a few days ago, the autopilot suddenly
pushed the tillers to one side, enough to send the boat into a violent
crash gybe, with mainsail and spinnaker on the wrong side the boat was
pinned down, the spinnaker hard pressed against mast and rigging ripped in
half before we even got to release it.

The loss of the masthead spinnaker with still 3800 miles to go to Punta
del Este is likely to cost us dearly in terms of performance but there's
absolutely nothing we can do about it, the sail cannot be fixed on
board...

On a more pleasant note, I was just called on the satellite phone for a
live link with Italy during the ceremony for the Italian Sailor of the
Year award which I won thanks to the many votes received by those who have
been following my tribulations to be part of the Global Ocean Race... the
prestigeous prize was first awarded by "Il Giornale della Vela" in 1991
and has been has seen to a range of sailors win over the years, from
Olimpic medallists to offshore sailors such as Giovanni Soldini.

Meanwhile the race committee has decided to extend the southern limit of
the scoring gate from 47S to 50S in light of the upwind conditions that we
would be likely to encounter and the fact that every boat is now out of a
main area of known ice, a pragmatic approach that puts our safety first.