Light airs forecast hampers Maserati Multi70 challenge for RORC Caribbean 600
Giovanni Soldini and his international crew aboard the high-tech offshore trimaran, Maserati Multi70, are facing uncharacteristically light wind conditions in Antigua for the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 Race on Monday February 20.
Soldini’s men have been monitoring the weather situation closely after the formation of a low-pressure storm system far to the north of Antigua disrupted the normal strong trade wind conditions. Forecasts have been calling for 48 hours of dead calm on the 600-mile race. The light air forecast is not good news for the Italian ocean racing trimaran which is designed for much stronger winds.
"What we are developing with Maserati Multi70 is a flying boat," Soldini explained. "The boat’s performance is dependent on the wind strength. In over 14 knots of breeze our custom foil system begins to work and we can be competitive. But in light winds the foils – particularly the large horizontal one on the central daggerboard – cause drag in the water and slow us down». «We chose this race because there are normally strong winds in this area, but now the weather conditions we are going to face are frustrating."
Soldini will be flanked by a close-knit international crew for the RORC Caribbean 600: boat captain Guido Broggi, pitman and data collector François Robert, bowmen Oliver Herrera and Carlos Hernandez, helmsman and trimmer John Elkann and media man Francesco Malingri.
The newest member of the team is Italian Olympic sailor, Vittorio Bissaro, who joins the crew as tactician fresh from a fifth place in the Nacra 17 catamaran class at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Soldini’s crew is at the very forefront of offshore multihull racing and aims to be the first team to master the art of offshore foiling. Currently, the boat is configured asymmetrically with one conventional MOD 70 daggerboard and one L-shaped development foil. The crew plan to have the boat fully foiling in time for the Transpacific Yacht Race.
Despite the frustration of a light airs race forecast, the Maserati Multi70 crew has made the most of its time in Caribbean in the build-up to the race. During one testing session, the Italian boat hit a breath-taking peak speed of 40-knots and the sailors have made a series of important incremental modifications to make the boat faster both in non-foiling and in foiling but-not-flying modes.
The RORC Caribbean 600 Race is one of two classic ocean races that Maserati Multi70 is scheduled to compete in this year. After the Caribbean race the 70-foot multihull will be moved via the Panama Canal to the west coast of the USA for the Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Hawaii.
The multihull start for the RORC Caribbean 600 is scheduled for 1140 local time in Antigua on Monday morning (1640 in Europe).
[Main image: Tiziano Canu]