In search of Hong Kong-London record
Published on January 18th, 2018
The trimaran Maserati Multi 70 left Hong Kong on January 18 in search of the famous record set by Gitana 13 in 2008 to London, a 13,000 mile route which follows the same course sailed by the clippers who were delivering tea from China to England in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Maserati crossed the starting line positioned between the Tai Long Pai and Nga Ying Pal lights at 10:43:23 UTC (18:43 in China), at the exit of the Tathoong canal, the eastern access to Hong Kong harbour.
In 2008, skipper Lionel Lemonchois aboard the Gitana 13, a 100-foot maxi (32.5 meters) maneuvered by a crew of 10 people, set the current record of 41 days, 21 hours and 26 minutes.
To beat the record, skipper Giovanni Soldini and his crew of Guido Broggi, Oliver Herrera Perez, Alex Pella and Sébastien Audigane must complete the course and cross the finish line under the Queen Elizabeth II bridge on the River Thames before 08:09:47 UTC on March 1, 2018.
“Departing today, Maserati Multi 70 is almost certain to find an average wind of NE between 17 and 18 knots of speed for the next three days, enough to get down to 5°N, under the southern point of Vietnam,” explains Pierre Lasnier, the routeur who will follow the record on land. “But, they will not be able to sail on the direct route; they will have to make several gybes downwind to go towards South.”
“To depart was a tough decision to make because the weather situation is not ideal but we do not see any other useful windows in the coming days,” said Soldini. “From the technical point of view, at the moment at the Equator, there is a bubble with no wind that we will have to cross. We hope that the conditions change once we’ll get there and be kind to us. During the first days we will do our best to stay in deep water, but there is more wind near the Vietnamese coasts, so we will try to find compromises between the need to go fast and the attention to pay at the myriad of networks and boats of local fishermen who do not even have navigation lights. The boat is ready, we are motivated and we will always try to give our best.”
To follow the challenge live: maserati.soldini.it/cartography
The obstacles on the Hong Kong to London route:
Among the various ocean passages ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, the 13,000 miles theoretical route of the Hong Kong-London record makes it the third longest recognized route after the circumnavigation of the planet and New York-San Francisco.
Hong Kong – Sunda Strait: 1,700 nautical miles
Between Hong Kong and the Sunda Strait, the gateway to the Indian Ocean between Java and Sumatra, crossing through the South China Sea and the Java Sea will require a slalom between coral islands in an area where sea traffic is always intense. Moreover, in this first part of the route the crew will have to cross the Equator; an area with little wind and great meteorological instability.
Sunda Strait – Cape of Good Hope: 5,000 nautical miles
The Indian Ocean crossing between the Sunda Strait and the Cape of Good Hope is 5.000 nautical miles long. Up to the south of Madagascar, the route remains under tropical latitudes where the trade winds coming from the South East mean downwind sailing but can also be disturbed by the formation of tropical cyclones. Then to get around the southern part of the African continent you have to enter the temperate latitudes where you might deal with depressions that generate dominant winds blowing from the West. Around South Africa and up to the Cape of Good Hope, navigation is made even more difficult by the presence of strong sea currents.
Cape of Good Hope – Equator: 2,800 nautical miles
Navigation in the South Atlantic between the Cape of Good Hope and the Equator is influenced by the position of the Saint Elena high pressure. Following the classical schema, the route remains on the eastern edge of the high pressure until it reaches the southeastern trade winds that push towards North.
Equator – London: 3,500 nautical miles
Back in the northern hemisphere, the first difficulty in the North Atlantic is once again the passage through the zone of calm, called zone of intertropical convergence (ZCIT) – the notorious doldrums. Once out of this zone of instability, they continue northward in the trade winds blowing from the North East. The position and vigor of the Azores high pressure system then determine the fastest route to follow up to the Channel entrance, but that route can also be complicated by the possible presence of winter depressions. The stopwatch will be stopped on the finish line, under the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in the Thames estuary.
Maserati Multi 70 Boat Configuration
For this record, the team returned the Maserati Multi 70 trimaran to its original configuration with classic appendages that come with the MOD70. The foil, i.e. the daggerboards and rudders that have been developed and built in the last few months that allow the boat to rise from the water, have remained on land. ”For this record, we decided to go back to a non-flying setting, above all to limit the risk of impact with objects at sea,”, explained Soldini. ”We have doubled the number of photovoltaic panels on board. This will allow us to gain weight and be autonomous from an energy point of view – a fundamental aspect in long navigation like this one.”
Maserati Multi 70
Length: 21.20 m
Beam: 16.80 m
Weight: 6,300 kg
Sail Area (upwind): 310 mq
Sail Area (downwind): 409 mq