Maserati en route to the Equator

The latest from Giovanni Soldini's attempt on the New York-San Francisco record

Tuesday January 8th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Eight days after their departure, Maserati is flying towards the Equator at speeds of 20 knots, driven by the trade winds. Their fast descent will slow today as Giovanni Soldini and his team enter the Dodlrums, between 5°N and 3-2°N.

Spirits on board are high. Maserati has already sailed 2,750 miles (of the 13,225 between New York from San Francisco) at an average speed of 14.5 knots.

On board with Soldini, the crew comprising Italians Guido Broggi, Corrado Rossignoli and Michele Sighel, Frenchman Sébastien Audigane, German Boris Herrmann, American Ryan Breymaier, China's Jianghe Teng and Spaniard Carlos Hernandez have become tight-knit: four people on watch at a time, watches of four hours each, but rolling so that every two hours two new crew members come on duty.

"The passage to the Equator is complicated," says Soldini. "Windless zones alternate with unpredictable storms. We hope to get through quickly so that we can continue south as soon as possible. The next gate will be Cape Horn. We will try to get there as fast as we can, but it will depend on what is happening with the wind along the Brazilian coast. If we are lucky, when we get in the South Atlantic the St Helena high will give us good winds. After Rio de Janeiro small depressions and cold fronts will come from the land, we will see once we are there how to face that. I think we will have to pass through the Strait of LeMaire to reduce the upwind miles around Cape Horn, then we will do our best to stay close to the Argentina coast. But the way is still long. First we have to cross the Equator..."

Maserati set sail on New Year's Eve from New York at 16:22 UTC and is aiming to break the New York-San Francisco record (via Cape Horn), along the historic Golden Route. The present monohull record stands at 57 days 3 hours and 2 minutes, set by Yves Parlier aboard the IMOCA 60 Aquitaine Innovations.

The first three days of sailing have been very hard due to tough weather conditions - cold, strong winds  of up to 40 knots, big waves (up to 5m - but very fast: Maserati has reached up to 33 knots of speed. After two slow days in high pressure, which allowed the crew to dry the boat and fix minor damage on board (three aluminium stern stanchions were bent, rudder roll had cracks, wheel was a little loose), Maserati entered the trade winds on 6 January and began her descent at 20 knots towards the Equator.

Progress of the boat can be followed here

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