It’s no surprise. We expected this. They’d been on target right out of the gate. And we were rooting for them.
Still, Maserati’s finish in London just a few hours ago is impressive by any standard. Giovanni Soldini and crew have broken the ‘Tea Route’ record from Hong Kong to the UK with a time of 36 days, 2 hours, 37 minutes and 2 seconds. This shatters the previous mark — set 10 years ago by Gitana 13, a 100-ft maxi catamaran — by 5 days and 19 hours.
"We are super happy," Soldini was quoted as saying in a press release. "But also very tired. The last 48 hours have been very tough, sailing in the [English] Channel upwind with a lot of breeze, a lot of sea and terrible cold. The record went very well, and we’re happy with our route. The most difficult part was the last [leg]. With more favorable weather conditions in the Atlantic, we could have gained another three or four days. But that’s OK. Indeed, it could not have been better. Technically the boat is perfect. From the last time we put Maserati in the yard, we have sailed more than 19,000 miles and everything is fine onboard. Surely this is from the work and preparation by [boat captain] Guido Broggi and the whole team. An excellent crew."
After waiting for the ideal weather window in Hong Kong, Maserati negotiated light and fluky winds through the South China Sea and into Southeast Asian waters. Reaching the Indian Ocean on day six, the MOD70 hit the gas in a tropical depression off Indonesia, a three-day stretch where they logged their best 24 hours with 644 miles, and stretched their lead on Gitana to a few days.
But on day 10, Maserati hit an Unidentified Floating Object and broke a rudder, evoking memories of last year’s Transpac where the big trimaran smashed into another UFO and snapped the same starboard blade. It’s not clear how much of a disadvantage the damage put Maserati in, but she went on to a third-place finish — a disappointing result for a boat that had a fair amount of hype surrounding her after she was able to ‘fly’ with the addition of foils. Was Maserati in need of some kind of redemption to prove her ocean racing credentials?
After the MOD70 broke a rudder in the Indian Ocean, Soldini and crew were able to sail into light winds, replace the broken blade, and carry on — their lead over Gitana had shrunk to its slimmest margin at just 250 miles (for the Tea Route attempt, the trimaran was not using her foils, which still seem to be in the experimental phase). Maserati got back in low pressure, hit latitude 38 south, and rounded the Cape of Good Hope on day 16 with a five-day lead. Soldini chose what he called "an unusual route" very close to the African coast in order to thread the doldrums. Maserati crossed the equator on day 22 with her biggest lead of over 2,000 miles. As Soldini mentioned, conditions were frustratingly and atypically light in the Atlantic. Entering the English Channel, Maserati was forced to tack nearly a dozen times as she worked her way upwind, sprinting toward the finish.
We tip our hat to Giovanni Soldini, Guido Broggi, Sébastien Audigane, Oliver Herrera Perez and Alex Pella for an exciting, record-breaking run. We hope to continue to see Maserati in the headlines in the coming months.
"I’m feeling lucky that I won a shirt! Headed from Santa Rosa to Aptos we stopped in at St. Francis Yacht Club for a quick visit. As usual, I grabbed Latitude 38 for some good reading and daydreaming. Found my free shirt flyer while reading. Thanks y’all!" So wrote Jock McNeill.
He went on to explain his current sailing situation: "One wife, two kids and three businesses have shifted my priorities the past few years away from sailing. I grew up sailing on Yankee out of StFYC with my family. She’s a gaff schooner that has been in Latitude 38 a few times. It’s a multi-generational boat and has been a big part of my life. I’m hoping to get out on the water more this year. I really enjoy Latitude 38 and it keeps me dreaming of my life as it should be."
Jock continued, "John McNeill (a former commodore of StFYC) is my dad. I grew up sailing on Yankee and really don’t know how to use a winch, because she has none. The old girl has been the center of our family for generations and I’ve had some incredible experiences aboard."
Yes, Yankee has been featured in Latitude 38 just a few times as she’s raced in numerous Master Mariners Regattas and is sailed regularly by the extended family, which has owned the boat since 1925. Yankee was launched by the earthquake in 1906 and has been rocking the Bay ever since.
We’re glad to send a winning T-shirt to Jock and grateful that Latitude 38 is part of the family tradition aboard the schooner Yankee.
Checking out the weekend events in our annual Northern California YRA racing calendar, we that noticed this Sunday has just three events on the schedule and all three are at Berkeley Yacht Club!
On the busy BYC Sunday schedule is the Midwinter Winners Race, which will pit the top finishers from the winter series in an end-of-season match-up. Awards for the series and the Kirt Brooks Champion of Champions Trophy will be handed out at the club afterward.
Also on Sunday, the OYRA has sponsored a now sold-out, all-day US Sailing Safety at Sea Seminar led by Chuck Hawley. This seminar qualifies all attendees to participate in the Hands-on Safety at Sea Seminar. Luckily, the Pacific Cup Yacht Club has one scheduled for April 14 or 15 at the Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda. If you’re not attending Berkeley’s seminar this weekend you can still qualify for April’s EYC Hands-on training segment by taking the online course.
Finally, on the calendar at BYC for Sunday is their "almost every Sunday from October 8, 2017, through March 25, 2018" Chowder series. They’re very informal, and the instructions clearly state: "Chowder races are cancelled in event of rain." We suspect that not many races have been canceled this year.
If you’re not part of any of this, the weekend forecast looks great for sailing.