Giovanni Soldini skippered Maserati Multi 70 across the RORC Caribbean 600 finish line at 20:49:00 AST on Tuesday 19 February in an elapsed time of one day, 06 hours 49 minutes, taking Multihull line honours and setting a new Multihull race record in the 11th edition of the race, beating the previous record by just over one hour.
Maserati Multi 70 crew: Giovanni Solidni (ITA), Vittorio Bissaro (IT), Guido Broggi (IT), Carlos Hernandez Robayna (ESP), Oliver Herrera Perez (ESP), Nico Malingri (IT), Matteo Soldini (IT), Claude Thélier (FRA).
The extraordinary events surrounding the battle for Multihull Line Honours will be remembered for years to come.
Just 48 hours before the start of the race, Jason Carroll's MOD 70 Argo (USA) capsized at high speed in training. It seemed impossible that Argo would be racing, but after a monumental effort by the sailing community in Antigua, Argo's crew and shore team, Argo miraculously made the impossible a reality.
On the day of the start, Soldini agreed to a two hour delay at Argo's request. An epic match race was to follow over 600 miles around 11 Caribbean islands, racing day and night, both multihulls recording over 30 knots of boat speed.
At Redonda, the final island of the course, Argo made a great tactical move to close the gap on Maserati and an intense match race provided the final twist to this fantastic story.
Soldini's Maserati held off Argo to win by just over seven minutes, after 30 hours of explosive action. Both Maserati and Argo broke the race record and the former champion skipper, Lloyd Thornburg congratulated both skippers on their achievements as they arrived back on the dock in Antigua.
"It was amazing that this race even happened. It was the first time in history that a multihull so big came back from a capsize like that - incredible. I was very happy to agree to delay that start, to race against one of the best teams in the world," Soldini commented.
"We had a wonderful race, very windy, very fast, with very good manoeuvres from both teams. We had some technical problems at Guadeloupe, we could not use our Solent for five hours and we had a small problem with one rudder, but it was a great fight.
After Guadeloupe we could see Argo all the time and they were getting bigger and bigger with our problems, but we had a good lead and we kept calm and solved the problem. From Redonda to the finish we used classic match racing, trying to keep ourselves between Argo and the finish."
Argo’s Jason Carroll said: "It was a miracle that we managed to recover the boat without any major damage. We had so many people help us out in Antigua and also from Newport, Rhode Island, and my team worked 24-7 to get the boat back together.
"We took it hour-by-hour to see if we could get to a situation that we could race responsibly, and when the sun came up on race day, we were ready to go. The race was awesome.
“We were a bit disappointed to let Maserati slip away at the beginning, but we came back into them at the end. We wanted to get as much leverage as we could after Redonda. Maserati tacked immediately which is typical for the course, and we headed towards Montserrat, which I think surprised them. We got a reasonable split but they tacked to cover us.
“After that, we tried to separate from them to see if we could make some opportunities. We had been racing for 29 hours and at the end it was pretty close. We gave it 101% even after all those hours of little sleep.
“This is a great race and Antigua has a great community and the Race Committee and Giovanni were super accommodating for us to make the start. This is an excellent event and I hope to come to many more. Racing Maserati so close at 30 knots of boat speed scares you a bit, but it is very exciting," Carroll ended.
"Offshore sailors have to deal with situations that are beyond their control and when we had the capsize, nobody's head went down, we simply worked hard at finding the solutions to get Argo back on the race track. The crew has really bonded through the experience," Argo's Brian Thompson commented.
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