Sailboat crew break speed record on NY-SF trip

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Famous Italian skipper Giovanni Soldini and his tireless crew of eight sailors erased the record for sailing the “Golden Route” from New York to San Francisco, reducing the previous record around the tip of South America by 10 days.

The crew arrived in San Francisco Bay aboard the VOR70 Maserati on Saturday, precisely 47 days and 42 minutes after leaving New York and sailing around Cape Horn, following a difficult 13,225 mile route made popular during the rush. towards gold – hence the name. The crew easily eclipsed the record set in 1998 by Yves Parlier when Aquitaine innovations made the trip in 57 days and 3 hours.

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America’s Cup racers push sailboats to the limit “We’re happy!” Soldini said in a statement. “The Golden Route is a historic record, very important and challenging … Maserati has proven to be a powerful, technological and reliable boat. The crew were extraordinary, everyone was ready to face even the most difficult situations. more difficult. “

The VOR70 monohull is much more efficient than the previous record holder. It is a Volvo 70 monocoque, the fastest in its class, with a carbon fiber honeycomb construction. These babies cost around $ 4 million new, but Soldini’s boat, formerly the Erikson III, is a 2006 model equipped specifically for this mission. The boat has been optimized for strong winds in order to achieve the best time. It is 70 feet long and 20 feet wide, with a 105 foot high mast and an 18 foot keel. It sports a tilting keel which swivels out of the hull to more effectively counterbalance the sails. This technology, developed over the past ten years, increases speed by adding power and stabilizing the boat. The sails are made of Kevlar, the same material found in soldiers’ body armor.

Forecasting technology has also advanced alongside boats since Parlier set the record, providing the Soldini crew with much more accurate data than Parlier had before. The crew relied on laptops and a satellite dish to download the latest weather data and images.

Yet sailing is sailing, and all the technology in the world will not make a bad crew a good one and it cannot replace the expertise of a seasoned skipper.

“The cool thing about the records is that they are traditional,” crew member Ryan Breymaier told Wired a few days ago, when the boat was still 800 miles south of San. Francisco. “Maserati blends with tradition in a modern way.”

And how did Maserati get involved? Soldini is friends with the top officers of the Fiat group, which owns Maserati, and he convinced him to put the money in to buy the boat. The original plan called for Soldini Volvo Ocean Race, but it’s a much bigger business, so he decided to challenge the Route d’Or record.

The historic route was heavily used by lawn mowers during the Gold Rush of the mid to late 1800s. It is a challenging journey that takes sailors through a variety of weather conditions, including the Doldrums and gales from the west at Cape Horn. Flying cloud set the record at 89 days and 8 hours in 1854, a record that lasted over 130 years until Warren Luhrs and Thursday’s child made the trip in 80 days and 20 hours in 1989.

“It’s not really the record that we break but the record that we set that counts,” said Breymaier. “It will be hard to break later. We are running against whoever comes after.”

Rarely will you find nine men happier to arrive in San Francisco.

Photo: Bjoern Kils


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