Maserati sets sail on Transatlantic record attempt

No small task to beat the record of a boat twice as long...

Wednesday May 9th 2012, Author: Meaghan van Liew, Location: none selected

After having been on stand-by for one month, Maserati is likely to set sail between 2200 this evening and 0300 this morning local time from the North Cove Marina in New York City. The goal Giovanni Soldini and his international team aboard their modified VO70 (ex-Ericsson 3) is to break the outright monohull sailing record from the Ambrose Lighthouse, New York to Lizard Point off the southwest coast of England.

They are challenging the present record set in 2003 by Robert Miller's monohull Mari Cha IV of 6 days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds. The task is something of a David & Goliath one. Robert Miller's boat was a 140ft long racing ketch 140-foot and covered the 2,925 miles of the route at an average speed of 18.5 knots with 24 crew on board. Maserati has eight crew on board is facing the daunting task of beating the record time of a racing yacht twice as long with three times the manpower. The extensive offshore experience on board Maserati might trump the larger yacht and team if the weather cooperates and one mustn't forget that the sistership to Maserati, Ericsson 4 is the current monohull world speed record holder having covered 596.6nm in 24 hours at an average speed of 24.85 knots.

"The low pressure approaching finally seems to be the right one," explains Italian skipper Giovanni Soldini. "This evening we will make the final decision, but I hope that the last weather forecasts will be confirmed. At the start we are expecting 25 - 30 knots of southerly winds and some thunderstorms. We will be departing just ahead of a cold front that will be coming through the New York area tomorrow morning."

American crew member Brad Van Liew adds: "We are going to grab onto the eastern side of the front, and ride it as far as we can across the North Atlantic. The three major challenges will be the unpredictable thunderstorms out of New York, the large area of icebergs south and east of Nova Scotia with strong winds and a water temperature of 2.4 degrees Celsius, and another area of uncertain weather near the finish line."

There have been some changes in Maserati's crew: French sailors Sebastien Audigane and Ronan Le Goff, Spanish Javier de la Plaza and British Tom Gall have joined the crew to replace some members of the team that are taking part in regattas in the Mediterranean. So the new crew line-up on board Maserati with the skipper Giovanni Soldini are watch leader Brad Van Liew, Javier de la Plaza (helm, pit), Sebastien Audigane (helm, trimmer) Ronan Le Goff (helm, bowman), Guido Broggi (boat captain), Corrado Rossignoli (bowman), and Tom Gall (second bowman).

Looking at the weather - Maserati will leave ahead of a depression moving off the eastern seaboard of the States, however the tricky part will be the movement of the high to the east. The depression is due to shove the high east, opening up a track of favourable southwessterlies and westerlies allowing her to get across the Grand Banks and past Newfoundland, before the high turns into a giant oblong shape spanning the breadth of the North Atlantic on Sunday. A small hiccup could be another area of high pressure slipping south from Labrador uniting with the main area as Maserati is passing through on Sunday into Monday. But once this is resolved, then Maserati looks set to have good pressure until the finish.

There is also the no small matter of avoid icebergs - see the ice warnings here.

Update: Maserati started her attempt at the Ambrose Light at 07:20 UTC. By our reckoning that means that they must reach the Lizard before 0:12:39 on 16 May if they wish to break the record. 

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