Nannini and Roman take fourth place

Just one more boat expected in Wellington at the end of the Global Ocean Race's leg two

Tuesday January 3rd 2012, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: New Zealand

At 06:13:45 GMT on Monday (19:13 local), the Italian-Spanish team of Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon crossed the Global Ocean Race's leg 2 finish line in Wellington, New Zealand, aboard Financial Crisis, to take fourth place after 33 days 20 hours 13 minutes and 45 seconds and 7,000 miles of racing from Cape Town, South Africa.

The 33 year-old Italian sailor, Nannini, and his 26 year-old co-skipper, Ramon, have encountered some of the worst Indian Ocean weather in the GOR fleet since leaving Cape Town and conditions were typically robust as the duo logged the final miles of Leg 2 through Cook Strait with 20-25 knots and a big sea off North Island’s southern coast with Financial Crisis carrying two reefs and staysail.

Bearing away round the Barrett Reef Buoy, Financial Crisis entered Wellington Harbour and the duo could begin to relax for the first time in over one month spent locked the Roaring Forties. “It’s absolutely fantastic to be here and a great result for us,” said Nannini minutes after crossing the finish line. Following his third place in Leg 1, there was a slight hint of disappointment for the highly competitive yachtsman. “I know we only came fourth, but we were so close to Campagne de France who are great sailors with such a good boat,” he continues.

Nannini and Ramon crossed the Leg 2 finish line ten hours after Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron: “We took 720 miles in a week out of their lead over us,” confirms Nannini. “It cost us quite a few sails, but we did try hard,” he adds, mourning the total loss of two spinnakers.

Nannini and Ramon joined forces for Leg 2 in Cape Town (Ramon had sailed GOR Leg 1 with Conrad Colman on Cessna Citation) and the GOR’s ‘Latin Team’ work well together. “I have to congratulate the ‘capitano’ as he made a great and very intelligent approach to the race,” Ramon complimented Nannini. “Intelligent tactics and navigation and he knows the boat, and he knows his own abilities and limits,” continues the former Mini 6.50 sailor. “I have promised Hugo dinner if he says nice things,” interrupts Nannini, clearly embarrassed by the praise.

The duo’s ability to maintain a sense of humour and high spirits when withstanding the series of fronts that swept through the fleet was fundamental: “I think technically we did get the worst weather as we were further north than Phesheya and we did get closer to the centre of a low pressure system,” says Nannini of a gale shortly before reaching the Australian Ice Limit. “We saw Nick and Phillippa tacking south, so we thought maybe there is going to be too much and when it started hitting 40-50 knots of wind we bailed out,” he adds. “It was just getting silly – triple reefed main and storm jib and it was still uncontrollable.” Financial Crisis was then caught above the ice limit running south towards the exclusion zone in a Force 10 gale. “Then, a couple of days later, as a front came through, we saw 60 knots of wind.”

However, Nannini and Ramon had complete trust in their four year-old Akilaria Class40 – a boat that has already circled the globe once as Team Mowgli of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson in the 2008-09 GOR. Ramon is confident that Financial Crisis is the right weapon for the Southern Ocean: “It’s a very good boat, very strong and we never felt we were in real danger,” he confirms. “We would shut ourselves down below making sure the door was closed tight as one wave came through the door and broke the computer screen and ripped the Iridium satellite phone from the chart table,” says the Spanish sailor. For Nannini, these types of conditions require specialist equipment: “When the computer was smashed, we couldn’t watch any more movies, so for the next leg, maybe we’ll take a Kindle!”

Behind the humour, there is a serious focus on personal safety and boat preservation. Following Leg 2, Ramon has learnt the hard way to sleep with his head aft: “I was sleeping head forwards and we had a massive surf, we nose-dived into the next wave and the deceleration was so big my feet went over my head and it was a great mess,” he admits. “Normally, I’m fairly indestructible, but the blow on my head really hurt.” Nannini’s major concern is gear damage: “I think the fear is breaking things,” he states. “You might break something, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to die,” he adds. “We had a problem with the mainsail and we crash gybed and broke three battens - we carry spares and sorted the problem out - but I think the biggest fear is breaking something major when you’re so far from land.”

Until the GOR, Marco Nannini had completed solo transatlantic races, but had never sailed south of the Equator: Hugo Ramon has sailed in both hemispheres of the Atlantic, but the high latitudes of the Indian Ocean have left their mark on the two yachtsmen: “I did suffer on this leg and I didn’t really enjoy all of it from start to finish,” admits Nannini. “I thought it was very, very tough and very long and - in absolute truth - it started getting better when we were close to the finish, but when we were right out there, right in the middle of nowhere in endless gales, the times I didn’t enjoy outnumber the good times.” For Ramon, overcoming stress was an important component: “Every day when I was sailing I knew I was doing something big and something very special, so I was motivating myself all the time, reminding myself of this incredible adventure,” he explains. “I’m used to doing races in the Atlantic and it’s a lot colder down here and you do feel more exposed, so we were inside the boat a lot of the time, but I’d do it again right now…after a couple of beers!”

With four of the GOR Class40s safely in Queens Wharf, Wellington, one team remains at sea. At 21:00 GMT on Monday, the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire were 150 miles of the coast of South Island with 278 miles to the finish on Phesheya-Racing polling impressive averages between 11-13 knots throughout Monday.

GOR leaderboard at 21:00 GMT 2 January:
1. Cessna Citation 30d 22h 20m 40s
2. BSL 32d 11h 38m 40s
3. Campagne de France 33d 10h 40m 15s
4. Financial Crisis 33d 20h 13m 45s
5. Phesheya-Racing DTF 278 7.9kts

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