Day 26, Wednesday March 3, 1999

FolSoldiniTvar.jpg (16611 bytes)
Giovanni Soldini Photo Billy Black

It was a terrible leg for Class I fleet. Five boats left Auckland and only one arrived at Punta del Este. The boat was not damaged but had an extra person on the deck. Giovanni Soldini with rescued Isabelle Autissier crossed the finish line off Punta early this morning with a still hanging full moon in the sky.

Soldini's Fila  FolFilaAir.jpg (21610 bytes)

It took to Giovanni 25 days, 09 hours, 55 minutes and 53 seconds to finish Leg 3 of the Around Alone. This time was not final. The International Jury was being flown to Punta del Este to review the rescue case and would make a ruling tomorrow afternoon. It was expected that Soldini should receive some time allowance for his rescue operation. But even without it Soldini had taken the Class I, as well as overall lead in the race. It was a great success after a fifth place in Leg 1.

BBAustissierFace.jpg (15523 bytes) Isabelle Autissier Photo Billy Black

During a speech in a press conference at the Yacht Club Punta del Este, Isabelle paid tribute to her friend and savior. "If I am here today, if I am able to speak to you, to laugh or cry or whatever, it is because Giovanni came," she said. "He did it because he is a gentleman of the sea, because he is a wonderful sailor, and because he has a great seamanship spirit. The most wonderful seamanship spirit I have ever seen. But maybe that is not why I want to thank him..."

FolIsaTvarStez.jpg (19138 bytes)

"I spent two weeks on board FILA, and during those two weeks Giovanni was really a perfect guy. He understood exactly what I was going through, because it is pretty difficult to lose your boat, to lose a race and to lose your hopes... The sea has not always been very kind to him, he also lost a boat and he lost a good friend at sea. He knows how it is."

Than Autissier called for a standing ovation, and a about hundred journalists instantly responded.

Giovanni Soldini  MSSoldiniFace.jpg (18695 bytes)

Soldini was moved by Autissier's speech. "I am surprised and happy to hear all these people tell me I am a big hero," he said. "But I really think this kind of thing is pretty normal at sea... I think anybody who is a sailor or a seaman would do something for someone at 55S. I think anybody who was in my position would go and do what I did. I don't feel like a hero. I just did what I was supposed to do. The operation was successful, but it was because we were very prepared."

Soldini gave credit to all involved in coordinating the rescue - to the Around Alone organizers and COMSAT and to his weather router, Pierre Lasnier.

FolIsaUStezne.jpg (36453 bytes) Isabelle Autissier

Then Isabelle continued: "Before the race started I knew this would be my last Around Alone. But I didn't want to say that to anybody. I just wanted to think about this race. I do know that I will be sailing and racing, and maybe sailing alone. For sure I will go back in the Southern Ocean. But I will never do them together - I will never go solo, racing, in the Southern Ocean. This has been my crazy job for 10 years. I had 10 wonderful years doing that, maybe the best 10 years of my life... great adventures, great friends, and great feelings. It's been a wonderful story for me. But now it's time to do something else."

Soldini's Fila   MSFilaBack.jpg (15114 bytes)

Class II leader Jean-Pierre Mouligne was 509 miles from the finish line. He reported: "I have spent the last 48 hours working almost non-stop, trimming sails, reefing and unreefing, filling the water ballast and emptying them, trying to get any possible speed and heading I could out of Cray Valley. I made some good gains and almost doubled my lead on Mike Garside and increased it by 40 miles on Brad."

Michael Garside was 131 miles behind JP and in his email he realized that he was missing something: "Suddenly I realize what's missing. It's the ever present king of the Southern Ocean. My albatross and his crowd of courtesans - the petrels, shearwaters and storm petrels. I must have left them all behind me as I turned left at Cape Horn. I shall miss them. The sooty albatross, the shy albatross and the wandering albatross. But most of all the majestic black browed albatross which breeds on Staten Island and Kerguelen. I won't forget the brown petrels, the fairy prions and the one whose identity Brad and I discussed for hours, the white-chinned petrel - which didn't seem to have a white chin! Nor the pale-footed shearwater or his wedge-tailed cousin. And certainly not those fluttery little storm petrels who don't look as though they could survive a breeze, let alone a real Southern Ocean storm. Somehow they do."

SlunceAlbatrosBig2.jpg (16427 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Soldini

Fila

Punta

del Este

0

0

0

0

2

Thiercelin

Somewhere

Falkland

Islands

1011

0

1011

1540

3

Autissier

PRB

Rescued

by

Soldini

0

0

0

4

Hall

Gartmore

Retiring

to

Chatham Is.

0

0

0

Class 2

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Mouligne

Cray Valley

42 56S

058 41W

509

9.1

0

2144

2

Garside

Magellan Alpha

44 18S

061 40W

640

7.4

131

2144

3

Van Liew

Balance Bar

46 26S

060 41W

735

8.7

226.5

2144

4

Yazykov

Wind of Change

52 03S

062 17W

1072

7.5

563.5

2144

5

Saito

Shuten-dohji II

52 43S

104 06W

2639

7.2

2130.2

2144

6

Petersen

No Bariers

47 40S

104 34W

2798

7.1

2288.9

2144

7

Hunter

Paladin II

47 00S

119 48W

3334

3.4

2825.5

2144

Copyright Richard Konkolski
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