50 days to go
50 days may sound like a long time but if, like Marco Nannini, you are preparing to compete in the La Route du Rhum, 3500 miles from France to Guadeloupe starting on 31 October, then it is no time at all. Marco’s hectic schedule of training, preparation and corporate
events, whilst holding a full time job in the City, leaves no time to breath let alone for relaxation.
His Akilaria 40 UniCredit is ready in Portsmouth after an extensive refit following the very successful first race; 2000 miles en double round Britain in June. Nannini and co-skipper Paul Peggs won three of the five legs of this to finish second, just minutes behind the leader at Plymouth after 11 days of top boat on boat combat.
Nannini has engaged the services of top French coach Tanguy Leglatin for three days of one to one training to fine tune his boat handling techniques and to coax those important tenths of a knot of boat speed. He recognises "French trainers are vital to race success, as a nation France is the acknowledged world leader in the sport of solo ocean racing, a few days practice with Tanguy will be more valuable than many weeks of trial and error by myself."
Nannini has just two weekends remaining in September with racing scheduled in the Solent and training before he jets off to Paris for the official presentation on Friday 28th where all 80 of his fellow skippers will be presented to the world’s media in the splendid surroundings of the Musée du Quai Branly. This gathering will be a Who’s Who of the solo yachting elite including skippers such as Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) and Marc Guillemot (Safran) heading the list. Nannini is a little daunted by the prospect: "This race attracts the cream of the French racing super stars every four years and this ninth edition is no exception".
From Paris it is just a quick hop to Lake Constance in Germany for the UniCredit annual sailing meeting where Nannini will have a chance to thank his sponsors for their generous support and meet some of the 200 staff members. Marco acknowledges "modern solo ocean racing is only possible with the generous support of sponsors, UniCredit contributed to the campaign with a new suit of racing sails and they have kindly allowed me leave of absence from my desk in the City of London to pursue this dream. By carrying the UniCredit name across the ocean I hope to repay their faith in me."
Without the slightest pause, the next stop is the Genoa boat show in Italy where Marco will join the UniCredit Leasing stand and have a chance to meet his good friend and sail maker Roberto Westerman, whose DI-TECH sails will be powering UniCredit across the Atlantic this autumn. Then follows a small detour to greet the family in Torino and straight back to work in London on Monday morning.
In October the pace is no less frenetic, the boat has to be in St Malo for class measuring and very thorough safety checks, even Nannini’s cardio vascular condition will be assessed on a tread mill!
Over one million visitors are expected in the walled city of St Malo in the week of the race assembly and 350,000 enthusiasts will be perched on every vantage point to view the start on Sunday 31 October, irrespective of the winter weather. Historically the Route du Rhum has captured the imagination of an international audience, it is renowned for dramatic starts and the first few days in the heavy weather of the Bay of Biscay and for the very high speed possible in these superb boats in the trade winds.