If you dream of one day doing a famous solo race, this London banker is lighting up the way

As the Route du Rhum race counts down to a finish in 8 days and something, it’s curious to think that the largest multihull to compete in the event for many a year, Franck Cammas’s 105ft Groupama 3, has fallen a day outside the race record. That still stands at 7 days 17 hours and was set four years ago by Lionel Lemonchois in a 60ft trimaran.

So the ‘ultimate’ class multihulls have not, this time, provided an ultimate performance. Still, one prediction emphatically has come true: the racing between these leviathans has been a dull drag race. The four big multihulls split so far round the Azores High that they scattered over more than 400 miles of latitude. It is hard to get excited about racing as scant and dissipated as that.

Far more interesting, to my mind, is the intense skirmishing among the Class 40s. This big fleet of over 40 boats have been so similar in speed and tactics that from the beginning it has been a fierce nip-and-tuck contest. Positions are swapping at every poll and the divide between those who have gone north around the Azores and the minority who have routed south are by contrast a fascinating chess game to follow.

The intriguing twist in this class is that the top professionals, such as race leader Thomas Ruyant, are being pursued very hard indeed by a fantastically well-matched group of semi-professionals and Corinthian sailors. It’s a superb example of the sort of pro-am ocean racing that seemed to have died out in recent decades.

This is a class capable of making dreams come true for the graduates of the Petit Bateau shorthanded racing circuit or the many keen offshore sailors that have come up through the ranks of Challenge and Clipper round the world races. For many people, these boats are within affordable reach of a syndicate or a charter.

As a typical example of what an amateur racer can do here, take Marco Nannini on Unicredit. I have been following him with great interest. He is one of 2.5 Brits in the race, all in Class 40s. I say 2.5 because Pete Goss and Richard Tolkein must count as one each, and I think we should add Marco as a half because although he is Italian he lives and works in London – he is one of those notorious bankers – and writes by far the best of all the daily blogs in English. Anyway, we’ll claim him while he’s doing so well 😉

As a young(ish) businessman realising a huge sailing ambition his progress is an inspiration. I first met Marco when he made his debut in the OSTAR in 2006 in a Sigma 36 and here he is on leave from his job four years later mixing it with some of the very best French solo sailors. He climbed as high as 10th place last week, earning him the best performance so far of any of the English speaking contingent.

Marco is very funny and very entertaining about it all. His daily emails and blog are exciting, tongue-in-cheek and dramatic and they’ve brought the Route du Rhum to life for me.

So if you crave a vicarious taste of the high seas and a shot of adrenaline, or you dream one day of doing a race like this yourself, check out Marco’s reports. You will be champing at the bit. You can read his diary, or better still sign up for daily emails at www.marconannini.com