Giovanni Soldini begins New York to San Francisco Record attempt

Monday, 31 December 2012

* Extreme record, steeped in Gold Rush history, unites East and West Coasts of United States
* Departure at 9 am on Dec. 31 from Dennis Conner's North Cove in Battery Park City, start line will be crossed at 10 am if all goes according to plan

* Trophy for record is "Clipper Challenge Cup" established by Manhattan Sailing Club

While most New Yorkers prepare for New Year's, the great Italian sailor Giovanni Soldini will cast off from dock tomorrow morning to challenge the New York to San Francisco Sailing Record.

Giovanni and his international crew will race their extreme 70-foot boat named "Maserati."  She has been docked at Dennis Conner's North Cove in Battery Park City for over a month.  Now, weather patterns have lined up and Giovanni has been given the green light to set sail on the record attempt. 

If all goes according to plan, Masterati will cast off from dock at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, December 31, 2012.  She will raise her sails in the Hudson River, do a few maneuvers and cross the starting line around 10 a.m.   The start of the record attempt will be clearly visible from the esplanade near North Cove in Battery Park City, Lower Manhattan.

Giovanni will be joined by an international crew of 8 adventurers.  They are: Ryan Breymeier from the US, Jianghe "Tiger" Teng from China, Sebastien Audigane from France, Boris Herrmann from Germany, Carlos Hernandez from Spain and Guido Broggi, Corrado Rossignoli & Michele Sighel from Italy.

From New York City, Maserati will race south towards the equator.  The crew will endure a few days of cold temperatures but will soon be in t-shirts and shorts.  From the equator, Maserati will head down the coast of South America towards the most feared point of land in the world, "Cape Horn."

Many a great sailing ship has been wrecked trying to sail around Cape Horn.  These record attempts are made during winter in New York City because this is summer down at Cape Horn when the weather has the best chance of bring moderate.  

If Masterati can successfully round Cape Horn and avoid the steep waves off the coast of Chile where other record attempts have been scuttled, then she will race up the South and Central American coasts before turning in to San Francisco.  The current record stands at 57 days, 3 hours and 2 minutes.

New York to San Francisco is the greatest sailing record in our country and arguably one of the best in the world.  It is steeped in history.  When gold was discovered in California in 1848, it set off a rush of people and goods trying to get to San Francisco as quickly as possible.  This led to the development of a uniquely American vessel known as the "extreme clipper."  She was primarily built for speed at the expense of cargo carrying capacity. 

Extreme clippers competed for money, fame and glory.  Clippers which logged faster times were able to command higher prices for cargo.  The most famous of all clippers was "Flying Cloud."  The Captain was Josiah Perkins Creesy and his wife Eleanor served as the navigator.  In 1854, Flying Cloud set the New York to San Francisco record at 89 days and 8 hours.  This record stood untouched for over 130 years.

In the mid-1980s, several adventures set out to break this fabled record but met with shipwreck along the way.  Manhattan Sailing Club (which was founded in 1987) established the "Clipper Challenge Cup" to encourage more record attempts. 

In 1988-89, "Thursday's Child," skippered by Warren Luhrs broke the record with 80 days and 20 hours.  The record was broken again the next year by "Great American," skippered by Georgs Kolesnikovs. 

Then in 1994, Isabelle Autissier and her crew aboard "Ecureuil Poitou" smashed the record and set a new mark of 62 days and 5 hours.  In 1998, Yves Parlier on "Aquitaine Innovations" improved this mark to 57 days, 3 hours and 2 minutes.

The "Clipper Challenge Cup" was established to encourage more race boats to come to New York City and challenge the New York to San Francisco Record.  The starting line for the trophy is directly off North Cove in Manhattan.  The finish line is from Pier 39 to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.  This references the historic record of Flying Cloud which was from her pier in Manhattan to her pier in San Francisco. 

Manhattan Sailing Club will give the Clipper Challenge Cup for a period of one year to any sailor who can break the record in a monohull under 80 feet.  The specification of a monohull is to honor the spirit of Flying Cloud and the length to encourage multiple attempts by the size of boats currently used in most round-the-world races (the outright NY-SF record is held by a 110 foot maxi catamaran called Gitana 13).

Soldini's start on Monday, Dec. 31 around 10 a.m. can be viewed from land.  The best location to watch will be the esplanade in Battery Park City, just south of North Cove.  This location is on the Hudson River, directly in front of the World Financial Center between Vesey and Liberty Streets.  Once the record attempt is underway, you can follow his progress at

Commodore Michael Fortenbaugh

See Giovanni Soldini and Maserati set sail today for the New York-San Francisco record attempt images

Last Updated ( Monday, 31 December 2012 )