Cape Town to Rio in 10 days and 11 hours
Maserati and Giovanni Soldini have set a new record in the Cape2Rio, the longest race between two southern hemisphere continents. They covered the 3,300-mile route from Cape Town (South Africa) to Rio de Janeiro (Brasil) in a blistering 10 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds, slashing more than two days off the previous record held by American 72’ Zephyrus IV (12 days, 16 hours, 49 minutes). Soldini is flanked by a nine-man international crew: Italians Guido Broggi, Corrado Rossignoli and Michele Sighel; German Boris Herrmann; Spaniard Carlos Hernandez; French sailors Vincent and Gwen Riou; Dane Martin Kirketerp Ibsen; and, for the first time, Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco. The crew of the Italian boat crossed the finish-line on the night of January 14th at 23.29 GMT (21.29 local time), taking both line and handicap honours in the process.
Maserati cast off from Cape Town at 12.00 GMT on January 4th with a fleet of 34 other yachts of various sizes. The Italian boat was the only 70’ taking part this year. A ferocious storm sorely tested the fleet on the first night, lashing it with winds of up to 60 knots. Many yachts were forced to pull out and a tragic accident aboard the Angolan Bavaria 55 Bille resulted in the death of a crew member, 47 year old João Bartolomeu. Details of the circumstances have not yet been released by the organisers.
“The Cape2Rio is a race I’ve been dreaming about doing since I was a kid,” Soldini declared on arrival at Rio. “The right opportunity presented itself this year because in November Maserati was in China for several events there and we had to get her back to New York for our second attempt at the Atlantic record. The start was very tough because of a cold front associated with a deep depression. We started off very cautiously, deliberately under-sailed, and we didn’t haul at all for the first two days. Unfortunately, there was a horrible accident that really left its mark on the whole race. The minute the wind dropped we hit the accelerator, heading north to skirt the high-pressure area. That put an extra 600 miles on our route but it was worth it. We managed to keep a consistently good gradient, good speed and good wind. Maserati was really at her best and we’re all very happy. Our return to Brazil closes a circle for us, one begun a year ago when we left New York to break the New York-San Francisco record. Maserati has sailed around the world and she’ll soon be ready to get going again too.”
After the prize-giving Maserati will be going to a yard in St. Petersburg, Florida, for some maintenance work in preparation for her new attempt on the west-east Atlantic record (New York to Lizard Point).
Now on its 14th outing, the Cape2Rio Yacht Race was launched in 1971 in the wake of South African sailor Bruce Dalling’s impressive second place overall and first place in adjusted time finish in the 1968 South Atlantic Single-handed Yacht Race. Dalling became a national hero in an instant 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, it returned 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.