Hang in there, Gaetano!!! Walls in the eye of the storm


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italy-onboard-1After the rudders broke, Gaetano Mura found himself facing other difficulties. A new gale in the Indian Ocean, almost halfway between Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin, hits Gaetano and the Class 40 Italia, skipper and boat engaged in the record attempt in non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation of the globe. After a couple of days of light winds due to the passage of high pressure, north-northwest winds of 35-40 knots with gusts to 45 knots and related thunderstorms are expected in the coming days.

This situation will allow Gaetano Mura to head further south, toward the Cape Leeuwin Passage, south of Australia. So the 1Off shore team tracking the feat of Italy’s: “The medium-term strategy toward this second major cape will be to sail eastward in wind conditions between 25-35 knots. In fact, it is precisely in these situations that Italy develops the best performance.” Sardinian ocean-racer could also increase maximum mileage in 24 hours, which so far in the course of its sailing is 255 miles, clocked last Dec. 1 in weather conditions similar to those of these hours.

“Unfortunately,” declare the weather routiers, “these optimal conditions will not always be possible. In fact, large moving depressions in the Southern Ocean around between 50°S and 55°S often extend far north to the latitude of 35°S, originating gale force winds well in excess of 35-40 knots, slowing the vessel that must proceed with gale force sails.”

15-12-2016-1-1000x630DECEMBER 15 UPDATE

The moods of the Indian

The wind has dropped, however, leaving behind a large wave that seems even bigger at certain times. There are only 30 to 35 knots of wind, it seems ironic to say only, but these are the parameters around here.

The depression of these two days was, with certainty, the biggest we have caught since the end of the Atlantic so far. The ‘Indian has beaten hard, from west to east, battering even the Vendée Globe fleet spread over the entire longitude, even forcing someone to go k, which is very rare in the Vendée, and someone else like Jean-Pierre DICK to go up to Bass Strait to avoid the “hottest ” part of the depression.

We had our ration manifested with all the power that his fame gives him. In front of the front we sailed well with manageable waves and quite fast, the passage of the front was violent with gusts over 50 knots on a sea that was beginning to rise vertically. After the front and throughout the night, the grooves continued for hours on an average wind of 40 knots with powerful reinforcements after the gybe. The real problem was that the wind was very sideways to the wave forcing us to sail with the wave very sideways that swelling and breaking became seriously treacherous.

At the point when it was necessary to slow down a bit we took, for the first time since I have been sailing on this boat, the fourth hand to the mainsail (portion of canvas reduction) which is reduced to a handkerchief the size of the mainsail of an optimist,and with only the foresail at the bow we often exceeded 20 knots. Under these circumstances Italy, when slowing down on the crest of the ‘wave, needs to have both rudders down to facilitate the pilot who with the small surface area of only one rudder blade, in the brief moment of near stall, seriously struggles to correct and bring the boat back on course.

The windward rudder is the one that strains the most, and to avoid this, since after the repair, it remained up throughout the gale. Nevertheless, with the little mainsail, Italia was doing fine, then tonight, as the wind dropped a bit, the wave had gotten really big, one bigger than the others caught us at the little garden (aft edge). Italy started in super speed hemming, then descended the whole wave leaning vigorously….Too much.

From inside I immediately guessed that the pilot was not going to make it, Italy gybed on her own and lay sideways and sideways to the sea, with the sails necked (upwind on the wrong side). I splashed out and in that passive position, the wave was already breaking on us, I opened the undercarriage, but it wouldn’t hear of it… I had to let go of the foresail sheet that I had caught at the neck on the forestay (cable that holds the ‘mast lengthwise) of the stormmast, the sail started off crazy, in over 40 knots of wind, and by the time I managed to tame it, it had torn at the base.

I put the boat back on course and went to the bow to ascertain the extent of the damage and prepare the storm turret to temporarily replace the foresail. On the bridge, cold weather aside, it was not very “healthy ” to stay there for long, but I was able to make two temporary maneuvers to keep the foresail from continuing to tear. So I avoided the delicate maneuver of changing the sail.

As I returned to the cockpit clinging to the Life Line (cable to which one is tethered so as not to fall overboard) to counteract surf starts, I looked aft, under the light of a full moon that illuminated the “battlefield almost brightly “enhancing the white of the fringing ridges everywhere. I looked up around me, the huge waves to the sky behind us, a scene that appeared apocalyptic to me.

“What are Italy and I doing alone here,” in the midst of so much power, among these waves and 40 roars in the middle of an austral night. I told myself that these places brand your soul.

I went back downstairs, made a hot cup of tea, changed some wet clothes, and with my oilskin on and my sleeping bag over me, slept and dreamed for a good three hours; interrupting only a few minutes per hour to silence the alarm clock alarm and do a quick general check. We are waiting between today and tomorrow for a definite drop in wind and wave to arrange ourselves in repair sailmaker mode.

The foresail is a very important sail on this trip so it needs careful and effective repair. We spoke by phone with Giovanni Sanfelice of North Sails to consult on an optimal repair.

Restorative sleep puts ideas back in order. Gaetano and Italy continue on to Australia with renewed energy and more motivated than ever.

Hello everyone
Gaetano and Italy

“One of the fears of sailors is that of breaking, of suffering damage that compromises navigation, and in this sense the Indian Ocean is particularly treacherous. There is no commercial traffic here, only whales and albatrosses. The boats, as evidenced by the many retirements at the Vendée Globe, are very delicate and you have to go fast. So much so that navigating is a constant search for a compromise between speed on the one hand and risk of breakdown on the other. Not to mention the inevitable wear and tear on materials that have to deal with months-long marathons like this one. Added to all this are unknowns that are neither predictable nor, often, controllable.”

“When situations like the one of the past few days occur (the collision with an unidentified submerged object caused damage to the rudders, fortunately repairable, ed.) there is no time for despondency. We need to act fast to find a solution now. To overcome these obstacles, it is necessary to know how to do everything, to have multiple skills: mechanical, materials, computer, weather. Fortunately, current communication systems allow, as in this case with the 1Off team on the ground, for the right support.”

Gaetano from aboard Italy also addresses the psychological issue of holding in the face of stress: “I by my nature and character am one who remains very calm and clear-headed in emergency situations, woe if that were not so by doing what I do. But instinctiveness and calmness are not enough at a certain level of “play.” I have worked a lot, mentally as well as physically, on these aspects in recent years. And today, more than ever before, I realize the benefits of this.

“Then I had the great fortune and privilege of crossing paths in the course of my life with a great professional who played a pivotal role and without whom, with certainty, I would not be here. His name is Marco Caboi the athletic trainer and mental coach who has been following me for years. So, a special thanks to Marco.”

The official website with tracking to follow the route of Italy: http://www.gaetanomurarecord.com/la-rotta/



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