Giovanni Soldini and his highly-competitive crew of 13 continue training
At 13.00 Sydney time (2.00 GMT, 3.00 Italian time) on December 26, the VOR 70 Maserati, her 13-strong crew and skipper Giovanni Soldini will line out at the start of one of the greatest, most gruelling and historic international yacht races. The 110 boats from 20 different nations in the fleet will then proceed to do battle on a particularly challenging and insidious 628-nautical mile course between Sydney and Hobart.
110 boats from 20 different nations in the fleet will then proceed to do battle on a particularly challenging and insidious 628-nautical mile course between Sydney and Hobart.
Soldini and Maserati have been training in Australia for several months now, venturing forth every day into the fearsome waters of the South Pacific to shakedown both the boat and a larger-than-normal international crew that numbers several new members.
Still in the mix are long-time collaborators of the likes of Guido Broggi, Soldini’s right-hand man since the days of the Open 60 Fila and the irreplaceable “ship’s captain”, and bowmen Corrado Rossignoli and Carlos Hernandez, fresh from the competing in the Volvo Ocean Race aboard the Spanish yacht, Mapfre. Other regulars competing are Spaniard Oliver Herrera and English sailor Sam Goodchild who have sailed far and wide with Maserati, Pierre Casiraghi, who has clocked an impressive tally of miles on the Italian VOR 70, and Francesco Malingri, son of Franco, media man aboard Maserati and Soldini’s lifelong friend.
On their first outing aboard Maserati, however, are Elizabeth “Liz” Wardley, a veteran of four Sydney-Hobarts and the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race aboard Sca, tactician Matteo Ivaldi, sport’s reporter for SBS TV Australia and “special guest” Nick Vindin, and grinders Carlo Castellano, Drew Mervyn Carruthers and Trevor Brown.
Soldini commented: “It’s the first time there have been 14 of us aboard Maserati. This is to make up for the fact that sail stacking, i.e. moving wet sails to windward, is prohibited, and so we need a lot of weight that can move wherever we need it. It’s too early right now to know what conditions will be like for the race. But we do know that the course can be very difficult, particularly in the Bass Strait which separates the Australian mainland from Tasmania. The fronts from the south seas come in very violently, and because the water is quite shallow, create a very steep, dangerous sea. But we’re really focused on doing well, and, as ever, we’ll be fighting tooth and nail!”.
Organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and the Royal Club of Tasmania, the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race was first held in 1945. The current record was set in 2012 by Australian yacht Wild Oats XI (the winner of eight of the last 10 editions) which completed the course in one day, 18 hours, 23 seconds and 12 hundredths of a second.
Images by Maserati