50-knot winds with gusts of over 60 forecast for tonight.
The 14th Cape2Rio Yacht Race, at 3,300 nautical miles, is the longest race between two southerly hemispheres, taking contestants all the way from Table Bay in Cape Town (South Africa) to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
The 36 boats taking part in the race lined out under a clear sky in Table Bay which is dominated by the eponymous mountain, one of the seven wonders of the world.
The fleet includes Maserati (the only 70-footer participating in this edition), which is skippered by Giovanni Soldini and manned by a highly experienced, tightknit international crew: Italians Guido Broggi, Corrado Rossignoli and Michele Sighel; German Boris Herrmann; Spaniard Carlos Hernandez; French sailors Jacques Vincent and Gwen Riou; Dane Martin Kirketerp Ibsen; and, for the first time, Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco.
The start took place in a light 6 to 8 knot north-westerly wind. Organisers the Royal Cape Yacht Club placed the first mark just in front of the port and then two others further out in the bay. Once these were rounded the fleet made for open sea.
Maserati led at the start but the Australian 52′ Scarlet Runner (R/P 52) was first to round the second buoy as she is a force to be reckoned with in light breezes. However, Maserati was nipping at her heels all the while, quickly bridging the gap to round the third mark 10 minutes ahead of the Australian monohull.
The situation will take a dramatic turn tonight when the fleet meets a cold front with steady 50-knot southerly winds gusting at over 60, conditions that will test both boats and crews to the limit.
“We’ll have to be very careful indeed,” explained Soldini just before casting off. “We’ll be getting a lot of wind on the first night. We will have to make a huge effort to avoid making any mistakes and pick our way out of it without any damage. But both crew and both are really primed for the race and we can’t wait to get going.”
The current race record (Cape Town-Rio de Janeiro) is held by Zephyrus IV, a 74’ American maxi which completed the dash in 12 days, 16 hours and 49 minutes in 2000, after particularly favourable conditions (a very southerly anticyclone in the South Atlantic) allowed her to take a very direct course.
Updates with video footage and still photographs from the boat and a chart showing Maserati’s position can be found at:
and on the following social networks:
Facebook (Giovanni Soldini Pagina Ufficiale, over 26.600 friends)
Twitter @giovannisoldini (over 121.000 followers)
where the crew will tweet and post images from aboard.