The Italian crew is flying at 15 knots in first place
The shot fired from the cannon in the fortress overlooking the Grand Harbour in Malta announced the start of the 39th Rolex Middle Sea Race (20th October 2018 at 11.00). The starting line was crossed by 131 teams, instead of the 149 entrants registered in the historical Maltese regatta, which celebrates this year its 50th anniversary since the first edition in 1968.
On a cloudy grey morning, with winds of 15 knots from the North-East and rough seas, the first category to start was the multihulls (MOCRA). Among them, other than Maserati Multi 70, there’s the English MOD 70 PowerPlay, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, which crossed the start line first, closely followed by the Italian trimaran.
Outside the Harbour, Maserati Multi 70, with full mainsail and solent, overtook PowerPlay and is now sailing in first place at 15 knots. In third and fourth position are the catamarans Allegra and R-SIX.
A few minutes before the start, Giovanni Soldini said: “We should be able to find nice winds until we reach Sicily, that will then decrease and get unstable, making the passage of Reggio Calabria and Stromboli more complicated. The boat, is in complete foiling configuration, it’s ready, the crew are in good shape and we will do our best as usual!”
Aboard Maserati Multi 70, with skipper Giovanni Soldini, there are seven professional sailors: Italians Vittorio Bissaro (tactician), Guido Broggi (mainsail trimmer), Nico Malingri and Matteo Soldini (both grinder and trimmer); Spanish Carlo Hernandez Robayna (trimmer) and Oliver Herrera Perez (bowman) and French François Robert (pitman).
The Maltese regatta’s 606 mile route is sailed anti-clockwise around Sicily, passing North of Stromboli, West of Favignana and Pantelleria and South of Lampedusa, before heading back to the finish line in Valletta.
October 21: MASERATI MULTI 70 REACHES STROMBOLI. WITH LIGHT WINDS THE DAMAGED RUDDER DOESN’T PENALIZE THE TEAM TOO MUCH
During the night Maserati Multi 70 enters the Strait of Messina and the Team decides to follow an Eastern route, in order to avoid slowing down too much with the light winds near the coasts of Sicily. This strategy works and this morning at 05.50 (03.50 UTC) the Italian trimaran doubles Capo Peloro, out of the Strait of Messina sailing at 7 knots with 5 miles of advantage over the English MOD 70 PowerPlay.
From that point Maserati Multi 70 starts sailing towards Stromboli with a speed between 8 and 10 knots, reaching the island at around 10.30 (08.30 UTC) with an advantage of 19 miles over PowerPlay.
“The passage of the Strait of Messina went really well, we made a good choice by sailing more at Est” says Giovanni Soldini. “With light winds the missing rudder doesn’t penalize us too much, it will become more challenging when we will have to sail port tack with strong winds: we will have to slow down and be very careful”.
Following the damage, the Italian trimaran’s crew unhooked the fuse system of the right-side rudder, rising it above the water: this way, while sailing port tack, only the central rudder is in use. This solution is effective with light winds, but the central hull needs to stay in the water or there will be no rudder in use.
Maserati Multi 70‘s Team started working right away to find the causes of the damage with designer Guillaume Verdier: “It’s hard to understand why the rudder’s fitting broke while sailing close-hauled, and not while flying downwind. It’s unlucky that this happened in this moment, during this summer we sailed about 2.000 miles and we never had this kind of problems”.
The new rudders’ fitting are made with a rigid carbon fiber and they have proved to be lighter in the section that transfers the torsion between the two bearings.
LATEST UPDATE: October 22, 2018
Giovanni Soldini and Maserati Multi 70 are still sailing in the lead of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, around 200 miles away from the finish line and after increasing the advantage over their direct rival PowerPlay, which is sailing 35 miles behind (according to the tracker at 11.00 local time, 9.00 UTC).
It was a very hard night for the Italian trimaran’s crew: they had to pass through a big storm, with wind gusts up to 50 knots, and they reached the island of Favignana this morning around 05.00 (03.00 UTC).
“A very violent squall line with strong gusts of wind, thunders and lightings passed over our heads”, says Giovanni Soldini. “We were able to shorten the sails very quickly without any damages, we stopped for just 5 minutes. We always stayed on route. One of the concerns was obviously the right-side damaged rudder: with strong winds and sudden gusts coming from left, we needed to be very careful not to be unprepared and to keep the central hull in the water or we would be left without any rudder in use. We are very satisfied with the beautiful regatta we are conducting so far. I’m particularly happy about the way that everyone in the crew reacted to the problems with the hydraulic piston and the rudder. We don’t have any intention to stop!”
Maserati Multi 70’s Team is heading towards the island of Pantelleria, to be left to port, with a 15 knots NNW wind. The next buoy will be the island of Lampedusa before heading towards Valletta in Malta.
Soldini comments: “The last part towards the finish line will be the most critical for us. We will sail with strong wind and rough sea, without a rudder, beam reach, which is the most challenging and difficult sailing point for Maserati Multi 70.”
The speed record is held by George David who, in 2007, crossed the finish line aboard Rambler in 47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds.
The multihull category (MOCRA) record time was set by Maserati Multi 70 which, in 2016, completed the regatta in 49 hours, 25 minutes and 1 second.
The challenge is supported by Maserati, the main sponsor that gives its name to the trimaran and Aon as co-sponsor, along with the official supplier for clothing, Ermenegildo Zegna.