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Maserati team and Giovanni Soldini lead Cape to Rio Race

by Imagina 5 Jan 2014 19:49 GMT 5 January 2014

A very tough night and a tricky morning for the crew of Maserati which cast off from Cape Town at 14.00 hours local time (13.00 Italian time) yesterday from Cape Town bound for Rio de Janeiro.

Overnight the cold front proved less violent than expected with gusts of 40 knots rather than forecast 60. However, it still sorely tested both boat and crew.

Wind and waves smashed a stacking post used to support sails resting on the deck. The post then holed the deck allowing water to rush into the interior. Fortunately, the hole was repaired promptly using a plug of solid carbon-fibre affixed to the deck using a fast-acting structural adhesive and four load-bearing screws. Unfortunately, however, Maserati's interior is drenched.

Having put the front behind them in the course of the night, Soldini and his crew enjoyed a few hours of relative peace with winds of between 30 and 40 knots, flying along through the waves at 20knots in rain and fog. However, in late morning, the southerly wind picked up once again and is now holding steady at 50 knots.

"The sea is crazy and the wind is gusting exceptionally high," Soldini said from the boat. "On top of all, we have driving rain. We're a little bit concerned for the other boats. Maserati is a solid, racing yacht, but there are also some smaller, ill-prepared boats taking part in the Cape2Rio. Right now we are sailing with three reef bands and the storm jib. These very challenging conditions won't change for the next 12 hours and after that we'll just have to see."

At 13.00 GMT, Maserati was leading the fleet in real time 3,100 miles out from Rio (total race distance: 3,300 nautical miles), with the 52' Australian yacht Scarlet Runner 25 miles behind her and the South Africa Open 60 Explora 30 miles in her wake.

Maserati 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.

Now on its 14th outing, the Cape2Rio Yacht Race was launched in 1971 in the wake of South African sailor BruceDalling's impressive second place overall and first place in adjusted time finish in the 1968 South Atlantic Single-handed Yacht Race. Dalling became in an instant national hero and ocean sailing quickly gained huge popularity amongst sailors and enthusiasts in South Africa.

The first Cape2Rio attracted 59 boats and was won by Robin Knox-Johnston and Ocean Spirit in a time of 23 days and 42 minutes. Pen Duick III, skippered by Eric Tabarly, finished in fourth position.

The third edition in 1976 saw a massive 126 boats from 19 different nations lined out at the start. These included two from Italy: Carlo di Mottola Balestra's Chica Tica II, which won in adjusted time, and Giorgio Falck's Guia III. Italian yachtswoman Ida Castiglioni, who had crewed aboard Edo Guzzetti's Namar IV in the 1973 edition, also raced aboard Kialoa with an all-woman crew.

In 1979, the finish line was moved to Punta del Este in Uruguay, 4,500 miles from Cape Town. However, in 1993, itreturned to Rio once again. The race's name changed to the Cape to Bahia in 2006 to reflect its new finish line at Salvador de Bahia before being reinstated as the Cape2Rio once again in 2011.

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 www.maseratisoldini.it and on the following social networks; Facebook and Twitter where the crew will tweet and post images from aboard.

The challenge is sponsored by our main partner, Maserati, after which the yacht is named, and by co-sponsors Swiss bank BSI (Generali Group) and Generali itself.

To follow the race visit www.cape2rio2014.com

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