Yachts joins Giovanni Soldini on board his Maserati Multi 70 for a wind-assisted trip around Cannes’ Goulfe de la Napoule.

Steve Chalmers

As Maserati is the official partner of the Cannes Yachting Festival, the iconic Italian brand not only brought along its 2019 range and design team, but also its Multi 70 trimaran, captained by the enigmatic Giovanni Soldini.

A legend in sailing, the Milan-born Soldini has been challenging (and beating) the ocean for over 25 years. His trophy cabinet has to be as tall as the Multi 70’s carbon fibre mast, as he owns many pieces of silverware engraved with his name. The Italian has two single-handed round the worlds. He won the Around Alone in 1999 and made history by also rescuing Isabelle Autissier, while finishing second overall in the 1995 BOC Challenge. Soldini also has won six Québec-Saint Malos (one victory in the monohull category), six Ostars (two victories in the 50’ and 40’ classes), three Transat Jacques Vabres (one victory in the 40’ class) and over 40 ocean crossings.

High performer: Speed and stability are the major hallmarks of the Maserati Multi70 trimaran.

Soldini also set a number of records aboard the ‘old’ VOR70 Maserati, not least on the Cadiz-San Salvador route (2012) and the New York-San Francisco Gold Route where he sailed 13,225 miles in 47 days, 42 minutes and 29 seconds. Other than participating in two editions of the Transpac Race, Soldini finished first in the Cape2Rio, setting a new record time of 10 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds. He has also finished 4th in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

After an intense three years aboard Maserati VOR70, Soldini and his Team embarked on a new adventure with the Maserati Multi70, marking a return for the yachtsman to multihull sailing. Last year, at the helm of the Multi70, Soldini set the Hong Kong to London  Tea Route record, sailing 15083 miles in 36 days, 2 hours, 37 minutes and 12 seconds. In October last year he participated in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, finishing in first position with a time of 2 days, 11 hours, 54 minutes and 58 seconds. So yes, it’s fair to say he knows his stuff.

Tea Route record: Soldini and his crew completed the Hong Kong to London challenge in 36 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes, beating the old record by five days.

As we head out in our tender to the Maserati Multi 70, patiently waiting for us just outside Cannes’ harbor entrance, we wonder what the Italian is going to be like. Sailors, especially those how have sailed single handedly around the world can be socially shy types, often uncomfortable around people, but not so Giovanni. He welcomes his new crew members on board the trimaran with a huge smile and a cheeky laugh every time he cracks a joke, which is quite a lot; it must be all that sea air.

The Multi70 is an amazing bit of kit. The mast rises 29 metres above the waterline, making for some Instagram-friendly pics as the sails unfurl to reveal the Maserati script and trident logo. As the wind catches the sails and we move forward, it’s obvious Soldini is at home here.

The ocean going trimaran can effortlessly fly over the waves at 40 knots, and so far it’s managed a top speed of 43 knots, that’s almost 80 km/h.

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Designed by Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prévost (VPLP) and a former member of the Team Gitana racing stable, Maserati’s Multi70 has been optimised by French designer Guillaume Verdier for the ocean’s challenges. Stretching 21.2 metres in length and 16.8 in the beam, the Multi 70 has a 29-metre rotating wing mast and displaces 6.3 tons.

It is however, her innovative foil system that really gets her moving. As the wind speed rises, so does she, as the lifts out of the water on her foils and rudders reducing her wetted surface area, which in turn boosts performance. Sitting in the 70’s cockpit area, we watch as Soldini and crew find the wind. It’s fascinating to watch and progress is completely relaxed; no fuss, no rushing (apart from the furious grinding) and it’s this sense of calm that allows us to sit and stare at the ocean, passing rather quickly beneath the triple hulls at a startling rate.

Maserati takes Line Honors in multihull class
Maserati Multi 70 Specifications
LOA: 21.2m
Beam: 16.8m
Draught: 4.5m
Mast rake: 4 degrees
Height above waterline: 29m
Light displacement: 6.3 t
Upwind sail area: 310m2
Downwind sail area: 409m2

Another surprise is the almost complete lack of noise. There’s no splashing, banging or clanking; all you can hear are the whooshing of the waves as the 21-metre long craft glides through them. Soldini is in his element here, and despite the 70 not travelling at the high speeds he’s used to, he’s got a big grin on his face as he lies back with one hand on the rudder.

Today hasn’t been taxing for anyone on board, mainly due to the gentle Mediterranean winds; annoying, as at least one day of the Cannes Yachting festival tends to be a bit blustery. But for the Italian and his crew, hosting a magazine team for a couple of hours is still practice and with a number of challenges and adventures planned, the more time under sail the better.