With just two days to go before the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 Race in Antigua the crew of the Italian Maserati Multi70 trimaran are closely monitoring an unusual set of weather conditions forecast for the period of the race.
Rather than the strong prevailing trade winds characteristic of the Caribbean at this time of year, the forecasts are calling for just 10 to 12 knots of breeze for the start of the race on Monday morning.
Drifting conditions are expected over the 36 hours after the start.
Maserati Multi70 skipper Giovanni Soldini explained the situation: «It’s frustrating,» he said. «Normally the trade winds would be blowing strongly here, but there is a low-pressure system to the north of us which has shut them off completely. The forecasts are showing winds as light as four knots during the race.»
The light airs forecast is far from ideal for the Maserati Multi70. «We need winds above 14 knots to be competitive,» Soldini said. «In lighter winds the drag from the horizontal foil on the bottom of the central daggerboard slows us down a lot. It is important to remember that we are developing a flying boat and in light winds flying boats are slower than conventional ones.»
Yesterday the Italian crew took part in the Antigua 360 Race – a training race around the island of Antigua. The wind for the 52-mile sprint lap was light – 12 to 13 knots – and below the Maserati Multi70 foiling threshold. Nevertheless, the crew learned valuable lessons about how best to manoeuvre the boat in these lighter conditions.
Despite ultimately losing out on the water to the American MOD 70, Phaedo3, Soldini said there were lots of positives to take from the encounter – particularly early in the race when the L-foil allowed the boat to sail very fast windward even though the weather conditions prevented it from flying.
«The Phaedo3 crew did a great job,» Soldini said. «They optimised their boat very well for the race and they know how to get the best out of her. What was pleasing for us was to confirm that our foils can be very fast even in non-flying mode».
The multihull start for the RORC Caribbean 600 is scheduled for 11.40 local time in Antigua on Monday (16.40 in Europe).