Fighting to maintain the lead in the Global Ocena Race

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It's the fourth day of this fifth and final leg of the Global Ocean Race,
we are still leading but by rapidly narrowing margin, just 4 miles over
Cessna at the last report and it seems highly likely that we'll soon have
to hand over our crown, after giving them a good run for their money we
are floating helplessly in very light winds and I think they'll finally
manage to squeeze past.

After facing tropical storm "Alberto" the first night of the race the
weather has changed in a maze of unpredictable winds, the conditions we
met very often differed substantially from the forecast. Our tactical
choices seemed correct given the available information and we've managed
to increase our lead of the identical boats in the fleet, Phesheya and
Sec.Hayai, to over a 100 miles.

Much more difficult to keep Cessna under control, the new generation boat
that is currently leading the overall points ranking in the race seems to
always break through thanks to her better performance so it's only a
matter of time before they overtake us but we can be proud to have managed
to lead the race for the early part of this leg. Only once before we had
overtaken them during a leg, on the approach to Cape Horn but just for a
few hours until they disappeared again over the horizon... we may not beat
them but we sure enjoy teasing them.

The difficult navigation of the last few days has made even more memorable
the beatiful days spent at the Charleston stopover where we were welcomed
very warmly by everyone we met. At our arrival in the heart of the night
Sergio Fedelini, Honorary Consul for Italy stayed up till the early hours
to welcome us on the committee boat, during the stopover he was of great
assistance first of all in treating us to some of the best spaghetti alle
vongole i had eaten in years but also with more formal aspects such as
organising an event with the italo-american chamber of commerce in our
honour and by donating a new italian flag after i learning i had shredded
the one i had received from my home town of Torino before the start.

My dual nationality, Italian and Slovak doubled the diplomatic welcome in
Charleston, I really have to thank the charming Peter Korn, Honorary
Consuyl for Slovakia that has hosted us at his house on Daniel's Island
for the duration of our stay and hosted a barbeque for the entire Global
Ocean Race group.

Both Consuls attended the prize giving at the Charleston Yacht Club which
was made very special by the attendance of Slovaks living in South
Carolina (including a duet of musicians, the Charleston Virtuosi) and a
delegation of representatives of the Slovak Community living in the US who
travelled all the way from New York to attend the event. Many thanks to
Katerina Tomkova for organising the gathering and the Consul Peter Korn
and his assistant Jeremy Stipkala for attending the ceremony.

For many the most memorable event of the stopover will probably be the
International Mustang Meeting organised by the Mustang Club of Italy, one
of my sponsors, that was held the sunday before the start at the
Charleston Harbor Marina & Resort. Some 50 Ford Mustangs attended the
event despite the gray sky that threatened a downpour all day but luckily
held dry. Salvo Mirabella, president of the Mustang Club of Italy and his
son Alessandro travelled from Italy for the occasion, my brother joined us
all from LA, i hadnt seen him in over a year and have to thank him for all
work in taking photos and videos during his visit.

I also had a chance to see my parents who flew in from Italy and my
fiancee Ella who came from London for three very short days thanks to the
generous support of my sponsor Ventana Group who once more covered the
cost of her flights, we finally fixed the date of the wedding and
discussed prepearations. Despite all the beautiful experiences this race
has given rise to I am looking forward to the end of this extremely long
period we had to spend apart. The Global Ocean Race is an enormous
committment and I am quite relieved at the thought this is the final leg
of the race. My parents must be relieved too after having to endure so
many months of apprehension at every storm we faced at sea.

A particular thanks to sailing legend Pete Goss and Vernon Keen, Chairman
of the Truro & District Boat Owners Association who behind the scenes
organised a fundraiser during one of Pete's talks providing a much needed
contribution to my empty race funds and allowed me to pay for such
expenses as the repair of the alternator which had packed up the previus
leg. A thank you also to those who contributed online to the funds through
my webpage www.marconannini.com/help I cant stress enough the fact that
without all this help I would have not been able to get to this final leg
of the race.

On this subject a reminder of the fact that my boat is for sale, I have
some substantial debts to repay with the proceeds of the sale but beware
that after leading the early stages of this final leg the price has
clearly doubled! Just kidding. For any information please email Ella at
connolly_ella@yahoo.com