29 January 2011
By late afternoon this Saturday, the fifth that the skippers of the Barcelona World Race fleet have spent at sea, five teams will have passed the Cape of Good Hope milestone.
Moving fast today, averaging over 20 knots, Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella on Estrella Damm crossed the line at 1155hrs UTC, only three hours and 10 minutes behind their Spanish rivals on MAPFRE, Iker Martinex and Xabi Fernandez.
Groupe Bel passed at 1500hrs this afternoon, with skipper Kito De Pavant in the Indian Ocean for the first time, pursued by the rapid Renault ZE Sailing Team duo Pachi Rivero and Toño Piris who had sixty miles to go this afternoon.
Although the race leader Virbac Paprec 3 has consolidated their lead by a margin of more than 100 miles since yesterday at the same time, now 707 miles ahead of MAPFRE, co-skippers Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron re-affirmed on today’s Visio-conference live with Barcelona, that they would be taking nothing for granted. In the next 36 hours they look set to face one of their most difficult tests of the race yet, a small, very active depression with high winds and big seas.
Peyron attributed much of their recent gains down to the favourable conditions that they have been granted to make best use of. But he considers the low can be dangerous for them.
“It is now looking like it will not be as bad as we thought, but the forecasts are not very precise at the moment and we really need to be vigilant. We need to worry only about ourselves now, it is a different race for us, concentrating on maintaining the rate we have. The atmosphere between us is good. We know we will lose some miles in the coming days.”
Virbac-Paprec 3’s fortunes contrast sharply with the recent mileage losses of MAPFRE who became stuck in light winds yesterday on the threshold of the Indian Ocean. Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez not only lost 108 miles since yesterday to the French leaders, but also suffered a rearguard attack as well - in weather terms caught out between the systems - losing 110 miles to their rival compatriots Estrella Damm.
Third placed Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella were on top form this morning, fastest boat in the fleet and profiting from their move to the south 48 hours ago. They were in 33-35 knots of wind today, surfing consistently fast in the wet going, producing come of the most insightful and engaging live video link up images so far (video conferences are live in four languages from 1000hrs UTC each day on www.barcelonaworldrace.org).
The fleet may be spread now over three different weather areas. Virbac-Paprec 3 will sail the early part of next week in some of the more extreme conditions, first light winds and then the stormy low pressure system, generated by the presence of the two side-by-dide high pressure systems, one in the SEAtlantic and the other in the S Indian Ocean.
When one draws up cold air from the icy wastes in the south and the other pulls down warm, moist tropical air from the north, squeezing out malicious, compact and active cyclonic systems which will really test the teams when they encounter them, but thankfully over relatively short periods.
In the chilly Indian Ocean it is certainly the battle for second to fifth which is where the heat is, now just 150 miles between MAPFRE and Renault ZE Sailing Team. And, as Pepe Ribes warned today, as this ‘peloton’ pile headlong into the light winds of the high pressure area ahead of them, the pack will squeeze up even more, and may even re-shuffle.
Arriving into Cape Town this afternoon, still visibly disappointed but looking ahead to their respective futures, Michel Desjoyeaux and Francois Gabart, may have a broken rig but not a broken spirit. Gabart, the second to youngest skipper in the fleet, admitted he had learned a huge amount for his future Vendée Globe solo project, while Desjoyeaux revealed that his career in the IMOCA Open 60 fleet may yet have a happier conclusion as his young companion has invited Mich’ as his ‘first choice’ to join him on his new IMOCA Open 60 to compete in the next Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic race.
Rankings at Saturday 29th January at 1400hrs UTC :
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 17 507 miles to the finish
2 MAPFRE at 707,7 miles to leader
3 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 753 miles
4 GROUPE BEL at 801,6 miles
5 RENAULT Z.E at 858,6 miles
6 MIRABAUD at 1128,7 miles
7 NEUTROGENA at 1188,6 miles
8 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1412,8 miles
9 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 1718,7 miles
10 HUGO BOSS at 1744,8 miles
11 WE ARE WATER at 1816,6 miles
12 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 1922,5 miles
Pepe Ribes (ESP), Estrella Damm: “Right now we have a quite a lot of wind, 33-37 knots of N’ly. We have the Solent with two reefs and we are making 22 knots. We are going express! Last night we had three hours of calm. Now we hope to hold on to this wind and carry these boat speeds.
We rest in periods of three hours I go into the bunk for one hour and twenty minutes. It is important and we really need to rest.
We are more to the south, but really today we are not so sure, they have taken some miles out of us in the calm, we really did not see the conditions. We have the flap up to the maximum, full stern ballast, and stack back and to windward”
“ We are under autopilot which does a good job in the conditions, and is quicker and that is why Alex at the moment is just trimming the main. There is no risk of breaking anything like this.
Inside it is about 15 degrees and outside about 11.
This the first time we have passed so far off the South African coast. With the Volvo we we leave Cape Town and are much closer to the coast.”
“Virbac-Paprec 3 is in another weather system and so right now I cant see the chances of catching much distances to them in the coming days. But as far as MAPFRE, Groupe Bel, Renault ZE and ourselves we are going into a big accordion effect and will be all close together again. We’d certainly congratulate Renault ZE on their comeback for their comeback. Now it a really interesting fight for us. Anyone of us can be second, third, fourth or fifth. The race is really alive and exciting!”
Loïck Peyron (FRA) Virbac Paprec 3: “You can never tire of putting some distance between ourselves and the boats behind, especially because the conditions have been very favourable, and even if it is not so good for us over the next few days. Today already there is not as much wind and we will be much slower. But we work well at the moment and it is going well. With 700 miles of a lead on Estrella Damm you can’t even think about trying to cover or control the boat behind because we are not even in the same weather system, for us it is about sailing our own race, maintaining our best pace. And so we will find ourselves with radically different weather systems, not least there is a depression in about 24 hours which seems quite malicious, but we hope that it will be OK for Jean-Pierre and myself. We will take care not to break anything, to take care of this beautiful boat, that rides and rides, we are fast adventurers.”
Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA), Foncia: “As for François, I had good idea of the competitor he can become, I learned to know him as a sailor but more recently and the person that he is through these particular circumstances, but in now way do I regret my choice at all. There were great times, the partnership worked well. We were relatively efficient, maybe it did not always look like it, but before our accident we were up in the mix. Yes, really it went well with a really good spirit.”
30 January 2011
Waves and Waste
Virbac Paprec 3 prepare for Indian Ocean storm
Last third of the fleet facing long, difficult spells upwind
Ryan Breymaier dismayed by levels of plastic pollution
MAPFRE © Maria Muiña
Jean-Pierre Dickand Loïck Peyron will be paying little attention to the scrap over second place which is progressing nicely some 600 miles behind them when the Barcelona World Race fleet reaches one month, or 30 days at sea, tomorrow. Rather the leading duo admitted today that they are looking only forwards, setting up as well as possible for the very active depression, their first big storm in the Indian Ocean which they will encounter Wednesday.
They will scarcely have concerned themselves with the fact that Virbac-Paprec 3 has conceded 150 miles since yesterday to second placed MAPFRE, and is now just less than 600 miles ahead of the Spanish duo. Sailing on the wind in around 25 knots of SE’ly breeze the duo are expecting a calm spell Monday before the cyclonic system hits them on Wednesday.
The active, muscular depression will be producing very strong northerly winds just at the time they would arrive at the Crozet ice gate, if Virbac Paprec 3 followed the theoretical tracking.
Their options are to tough it out, which would not seem wise given their key priority is preservation of the boat and themselves, or to invest more to the north earlier, perhaps Tuesday night when they have good easterly breeze. They would be giving up miles down the course to the east, but they would effectively brake by sailing north to let the worst of the system pass in front of them.
In fact any miles they invest to do that would almost certainly be regained as they hitch a fast ride on the back of the system.
But then their nemesis would become their savior, in terms of lost miles, especially since the Amsterdam gate, the next ice barrier, is then further south at 46 degrees so would allow the leader a longer stretch south once they gybe.
With the system moving at 40 to 50 knots or more, the timing of this approach is critical. An hour too late can be problematic, leading to much more than an hour of punishment!
The chasing pack of four boats have had a generally profitable weekend, enjoying periods of brisk speeds, strong winds and more challenging conditions. Estrella Damm’s Pepe Ribes reported racing last night in 40-45 knots, with three reefs in the main for the first time. But Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez have been the quickest, again, through Sunday averaging 19.4 knots to extent their lead on third placed Estrella Damm.
Looking down the ranking it is immediately apparent which sets of boats are riding the fast moving waves, the low pressure systems, and which are more wallowing in the troughs, some battling upwind in the high pressure systems. In general this pattern is set, galvanised by the ice gates, and there is little chance of breaking out of the systems. For the boats in the lower third of the fleet their options are not only limited but quite unpleasant.
Hugo Boss’ Wouter Verbraak underlined again today that instead of the fast downwind sleigh rides of the Southern Indian ocean they will aggregate up to 2,500 miles sailing upwind…’not what the brochure promised’.
Ready to enter the Indian Ocean for the first time, predicted to pass Cape of Good Hope later this evening, some 63 miles behind sixth placed Mirabaud, Ryan Breymaier, joined by videoconference today from Neutrogena, expressed his ongoing shock and dismay at the unacceptable amount of plastic waste they are encountering daily, all the way round the race course:
“ But what really sets me off is not so much the fact that the planet is getting warmer, but that everywhere we sail we pass plastic floating in the water. Where we are in the ocean just now, every day we still pass some kind of crap floating in the water and it is terrible. There is so much plastic trash in the water, there is so much plastic fishing rope, so many plastic bags, plastic containers, jerry jugs, water bottles it is just absolutely everywhere. It is really, really disgusting. I have sailed across the Atlantic five times and the last trip back from Costa Rica was pretty bad with the plastic, but now crossing the Equator and down into the Southern Hemisphere, all along the periphery of the South Atlantic high it has been nothing but trash in the water constantly. That to me is much worse.”
Rankings at Sunday 30th January at 1400hrs UTC :
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 17 192 miles to the finish
2 MAPFRE at 592 miles to leader
3 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 664 miles
4 GROUPE BEL at 709 miles
5 RENAULT Z.E at 805 miles
6 MIRABAUD at 1125 miles
7 NEUTROGENA at 1189 miles
8 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1426 miles
9 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 1844 miles
10 HUGO BOSS at 19079 miles
11 WE ARE WATER at 19132 miles
12 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 19231 miles
Jean Pierre Dick :“With Loïck we are pretty much focused on the big depression, a bit worrying, which is coming from Madagascar. The depression is generated by the conflict of warm air from Madagascar and the cold polar air. It should hit us just at the time we are at the Crozet gate. There is a strong headwind expected in advance of and behind the front, 40-45 knots and big sea. It is a little bit dangerous, a proper storm. There are several possible scenarios for us to approach it, and we scour the models to see how they agree.
Meantime we are going well, Virbac-Paprec 3 is going well up to 18 knots, upwind with 26 knots of wind. And so we can be inside for much of the time, not often needed to be on deck, so it is a bit like a Sunday. Tomorrow we have the calms from around six to seven in the morning and then the strong gales.
Our outside pods allow us protection to steer sheltered from the elements, they hold the heat and keep the boat warm, a little greenhouse effect. Tomorrow it will be one month at sea and with Loïck we were accustomed to life at sea and have found our rhythm well. We sleep easily on board.”
Ryan Breymaier (USA), Neutrogena:“We had a long night, we had a little bit of the wind dying last night and we had super big waves from a variety of different directions which made the sea state terrible and it made it very difficult to go fast, sometimes you had waves coming from the front, you would have a huge hole in the water, and it was pretty dangerous for nose diving because of the big holes as the two swells separated in front of the boat, we had to be very careful with the angle we sail to keep going as fast as possible without any silliness.”
“We have not been keeping track of Good Hope, yes it’s a little bit of a milestone for the course but for us it is not a huge one. The equator is a big one, Cape Horn the big one but the Cape of Good Hope is a long, long way away. The gate registers more.
It is a nice race with Mirabaud, we push ourselves constantly because they are a very fast boat and they sail it really well. We have gained a lot over the last couple of days and I hope now we don’t do anything stupid and get behind again.
In response to a question about the effects of climate change on the oceans and the course?
“I think things are much more variable than they normally might be and that might be due to climate change, I am not sure, but when you see the ice that is south of us that does make you wonder. I know for a fact these gates are at least as high, if not higher than in any other round the world race before and to have the ice as far north as 44 degrees is pretty incredible.”
“But what really sets me off is not so much the fact that the planet is getting warmer, but that everywhere we sail we pass plastic floating in the water. Where we are in the ocean just now, every day we still pass some kind of **************** floating in the water and it is terrible. There is so much plastic trash in the water, there is so much plastic fishing rope, so many plastic bags, plastic containers, jerry jugs, water bottles it is just absolutely everywhere. It is really, really disgusting. I have sailed across the Atlantic five times and the last trip back from Costa Rica was pretty bad with the plastic, but now crossing the Equator and down into the Southern Hemisphere, all along the periphery of the South Atlantic high it has been nothing but trash in the water constantly. That to me is much worse.”
Andy Meiklejohn (NZL), Wouter Verbraak (NED) Hugo Boss:
Wouter:“We are currently upwind and the routing says that 2,500 miles will be upwind and that’s like an Atlantic crossing. If you do the routing without the ice gates it shows us flying downwind as you would expect in the southern ocean, so the ice gates are definitely having a big impact.
On who climbs the rig:
Andy:“Being from a land which is almost under water Wouter does all the swimming, and being from a land famous for mountain climbers I do all the climbing.”
Wouter:“These boats are built for going downwind, ours is perhaps one of the better for going upwind, but in fact it can be rather boring because there is a limit to what you can do. Upwind the pilot does better usually than handsteering, while down wind you would usually outperform the pilot and there are more sail changes to do, and so it probably not as exciting as the racing we were looking to do.”
Seb Audigane (FRA) Groupe Bel: “ We hit the low last night. It was very sudden, in ten minutes it went from NW to SW, and we gybed. The stacking was a bit of a struggle, it was chaos, everything was flying around the boat. We moved the ton and a half of gear to the other side of the boat. The skies are low, it’s very grey and it’s cold, reminds me of Brittany. But the sea is warm at 15ºC and we have seen albatrosses and dolphins.
Kito is outside, trimming the sails, well wrapped up in his foul weather gear and his cap.
We trim the main sail quite often, because there are a lot of wind shifts. We are constantly trimming to make sure Groupe Bel goes fast. We anticipate ahead of the manoeuvers and the gybes. We choose the good wave and the good surf to gybe without stress, and we slacken the mainsail immediately. The objective is to do things smoothly, so as not to break anything.”
Barcelona, 31 January 2011
At one month: stress busting?
Who, of those towards the back of the Barclelona World Race fleet would swap their unfortunate reality and certainty for the high stress and uncertainty which leaders Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron appeared to be facing over the next few days as they look set to deal with a difficult, active subtropical low pressure system?
Duos like Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak on Hugo Boss and Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella on GAES Centros Auditivos, who were all joined through this morning’s Barcelona World Race Visio-Conference, are trying to come to terms with the weather cards they have been dealt, initially: a hand offering at least two or three days of upwind sailing and surely more.
In contrast, with a lead of 589 miles this afternoon over second placed MAPFRE, Dick sounded slightly anxious this morning as he admitted they were still not clear on the timing of, or how they will deal with the muscular low pressure which is threatening them.
He and co-skipper Peyron have been making optimal use of their time in slacker breezes, making just 12 knots this afternoon in light upwind conditions, by reviewing the weather files as they get them, preparing the boat, rig and equipment for the big blow and sleeping and eating as much as they can.
For those who are getting used to the idea that their domain will be slamming upwind at an angle for days to come rather than surfing downwind, there is more to deal with mentally than simply considering how their endurance and patience will be tested.
For sure there will be also now be some bigger gaps in the fleet developing and overall duration of their race is likely to be greater than anticipated.
Ryan Breymaierand Boris Herrmann expressed a certain satisfaction in having got back to within 44 or so miles of sixth placed Mirabaud yesterday but they are snared this afternoon in calms which have seen them making less than a two knots average, losing 28 miles this afternoon alone. And Caffari confirmed that their aggregate losses could accumulate to five or six hundred miles.
Under such circumstances the duos solidarity as a unit will be tested, as will their discipline and humour. Hugo Boss’ Wouter ‘The Router’ Verbraak joked this morning that they simply discard the forecasts they don’t like the look of and resort to another cup of tea, before getting on with the job to the best of their ability, while Caffari stated starkly and simply:
Joined by video link with We Are Water’s Barcelona skipper Cali Sanmarti who celebrated his 42nd birthday today, Anna Corbella warned her friend Cali, both former Mini class skippers, not to start ‘robbing the food bags’ a mistake which, when all the treats are used up too early, can make the final stage of the circumnavigation especially tedious.
From second placed MAPFRE Iker Martinez compared previous life in these latitudes on the fully crewed Volvo Ocean Race with the different kind of stress and tiredness, racing as a duo for the first time on an IMOCA Open 60, which they seem to have adapted to well.
“ These boats anyway are designed for downwind, so they are rather uncomfortable, in fact to speak now I am wedged on the floor, it is uncomfortable and even dangerous. The Volvo is intense but over shorter periods. But the IMOCA can be slower and more difficult over short periods - during manoeuvres. We have no heating on board, a choice which seemed nice but we decided not to because of the fuel we would have needed. The way we sail is very different to the Volvo. The Volvo is a bit like being in the army with 10 guys. This is totally different with just the two of us, we sleep little but in the Volvo we sleep for longer periods. Here is it is 30 minutes, an hour maybe two.”Explained Martinez today.
Meantime Président’s Jean Le Cam continues to follow the Barcelona World Race closely, speaking out in complete support of the ice-gates:
“ Combined with the complicated weather patterns in this part of the world which are going to complicate things for the competitors adding a touch of spice to the race, that is why I would like to say well done to the race director....”Le Cam commented.
Rankings on Monday 31 January at 1400hrs UTC
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 16 868,8 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE at 589 miles to the leader
3 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 706,3 miles
4 GROUPE BEL at 727 miles
5 RENAULT Z.E at 874,5 miles
6 MIRABAUD at 1232,8 miles
7 NEUTROGENA at 1321,9 miles
8 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1555,5 miles
9 HUGO BOSS at 1931,8 miles
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 2016,7 miles
11 WE ARE WATER at 2026,7 miles
12 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 2141,3 miles
Barcelona, 01 February 2011
Pirates and Cow Boys in the Indian
While the Barcelona World Race leader Virbac-Paprec 3 this afternoon look very much like they should make it to the Crozet ice gate just on time, sneaking ahead of the depression which has been threatening them for the last few days, the podium challenge of Kito de Pavant and Sébastien Audigane Groupe Bel to Spain’s Estrella Damm appears to be increasing by the hour.
The duel in the Indian Ocean between the ‘Red Cow Boys’ – De Pavant and Audigane - on the VPLP Verdier designed Groupe Bel which is also known as ‘Cochise’ (ed note as in Cow Cheese!), and Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes, who signs his communications as ‘Jack Sparrow’ on the Red Pearl which is better known as the Farr designed Estrella Damm. From being nearly eighty miles ahead of their French rivals, the RCN Barcelona flagged IMOCA Open 60 and Groupe Bel are now alongside each other on the same longitude and separated north-south by just 12 miles.
Ribes, on good form on today’s Visio-Conference and visibly enjoying every hour of his race along with his partner Pella, quipped that they would be getting the binoculars out to scan the horizon for the Red Cow Boys on the Laughing Cow.
“We have been looking for them but cannot see them although they are not very far. The last boat we saw was Mirabaud in the Canary Islands and when they were twenty miles away we could see them. But today we can’t see Groupe Bel. I would like to see them to have a reference.” Said Ribes today. “ We have to set the pace quite high on Estrella Damm so when we have a boat near then it is effectively still the same pace as when we are alone. But when you have anyone around you are losing or winning every four hours directly. When you have someone a hundred miles away and you get the sched if they gain 10 miles you can’t do anything, but now when you have the boats 20 miles away it’s sailing with your wind conditions too, so it’s more demanding because you lose if you are obviously doing something wrong, but we try to set the pace quite high here at the moment.”
Estrella Damm were holding off the advances of the French duo, who have consistently had slightly more breeze due to their more favorable position to the north over past days. But Ribes seemed fairly confident that he and Pella would be better placed when the next windshift, from the SW reaches them.
With the dominant high pressure systems likely to remain in place, one under South Africa which is giving the last third of the fleet upwind conditions, and one to the west south west of the Kerguelen Islands, there is every chance that more of these nasty low pressure systems will spin off the Madagascar breeding ground, probably later in the week, towards the weekend. As long as the blades of the two wind generation mills are turning, drawing up the cold polar air in the west and pulling down the warm, moist tropical air, these violent depressions are generated.
Small pleasures mean a lot
For Ribes, today’s small pleasure – the reward after a difficult 24 hours which saw them making a big repair to their Code Zero – was a welcome curry.
Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella on GAES Centros Auditivos, who passed the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope this morning at 0930hrs UTC, have been feasting on Caffari’s favourite Haribo sweets. On her fourth passage past the South African Cape, twice from east-to-west and now twice from west-to-east, Caffari said: “We can’t stay miserable and have to remain positive as we have these conditions for a while. Reaching another milestone is always good and it is fantastic for Anna to have passed the Cape of Good Hope today, something she has never done before on a race.”
GAES Centros Auditvos was joined on the video link by Mike Golding in Barcelona, who wished the girls every success and advocated patience and prudence, keeping the boat together, as virtues as they slog upwind.
“The opportunities will come, there is such a long way to go, the main thing just now is to keep the boat together.”Golding, who made up more than 600 miles of deficit on the leaders in the 2004-5 Vendée Globe said, “Remember there are big, big opportunities in the Southern Ocean.”
The British skipper, twice IMOCA World Champion, third in the 2004-5 Vendée Globe, also made the day for Juan Merediz and the race’s youngest co-skipper Fran Palacio on Central Lechera Asturiana.
Taking the Mick, Using the Michael
Speaking to the duo who are sailing his former Ecover 2, which is on its third circumnavigation, and are having to stop in Cape Town to make a repair to their leaking keel hydraulics, there were radiant smiles from the sailors when Golding said that maybe their technical pit stop would reap the same dividend for them that Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron seemed to get from their temporary halt in Recife, Brazil:
“So I will be expecting to see you leading in three weeks time.” Golding chuckled.
“Listen, if we are back within our group within three weeks we will be quite happy.” Responded Palacio, who paid tribute to Golding after whom they have christened their autopilot ‘Miguel’. “We are glad you are doing such a good job. Thanks” said Palacio.
Standings on Tuesday 1st February 2011
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 16 657 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE at 543,2 miles to leader
3 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 680,6 miles
4 GROUPE BEL at 685,1 miles
5 RENAULT Z.E at 843,9 miles
6 MIRABAUD at 1252,2 miles
7 NEUTROGENA at 1310 miles
8 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1626,4 miles
9 HUGO BOSS at 1832,7 miles
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 2076,6 miles
11 WE ARE WATER at 2099 miles
12 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 2145,6 miles
02 February 2011
Red Line Speed
They are separated now either side of a venomous low pressure, but both of the Barcelona World Race’s leading two crews were considering where to set the red line today, how hard they have to push to maintain their differential to the boats behind.
If Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron breathed a collective sigh of relief last night when they caught the tiny weather window which allowed them to pass the Crozet ice gate, to tack and ease sheets for a fast run ESE towards to the Amsterdam gate, Olympic champions Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez seem to sound a warning to the French duo this evening that they will not be regulating their electric pursuit of Virbac-Paprec 3 too much.
This afternoon MAPFRE recorded the fastest one hour ‘speed gun’ of the race so far, 26.8 knots.
Somewhat paradoxically only this morning Fernandez ruminated on the daily Visio-Conference that he and Iker had just been discussing if they should drop their ‘red line’, to lower their cursor a little and moderate their attack.
But seemingly the Spanish speed kings grow in confidence every day and are determined to progressively reel in the runaway Dick and Peyron.
“What they have done so far is quite amazing. And I think the whole Olympic sailing community is just riveted by their performance. Nobody really quite knew how they would get on, least of all them, but they are going so well.”Double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson (GBR) said in Barcelona today just after speaking to Fernandez by live video link for the CNN Mainsail TV programme which she fronts.
Virbac-Paprec 3 broke free of the low pressure ‘shooting gallery’ set up as the low pressure bullets fire south east from Madagascar, and this afternoon were making solid progress in difficult conditions, 30-35 knots of wind, and expecting more wind.
Dick and Peyron know they have a lead of 464 miles today – not exactly feeling the hot breath of the Spaniards on their collars – but they also know well that further down the track, this course offers substantial opportunities to their pursuers, not least the ascent up to the Cook Straits.
It can be a slow ride up to New Zealand if there is a high pressure dominating the approach.
For the record Virbac-Paprec 3 also win the Atlantic North South Trophy for the passage from Gibraltar to the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope. Dick and Peyron took 23 days 5 hours and 40 minutes, the fastest elapsed time even with their pit stop in Recife of a few hours. And this afternoon Hugo Bosspassed into the Indian Ocean between 1330hrs and 1400hrs UTC.
Otherwise the sparring in the peloton continues: Groupe Bel stole third early this morning and are still just six miles clear of their Spanish rivals on Estrella Damm.
And as Dee Caffari pointed out in her message this morning, by the weekend there seems to be a chance that something more resembling normal service might start in the SE Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. The blocking high pressure west of the Kerguelens is predicted to slide away allowing a service of fast moving depressions to resume.
Standings on Wednesday February 2 2011
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 16345 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE at 464.5 miles to leader
3 GROUPE BEL at 602.9 miles
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 608.7 miles
5 RENAULT Z.E at 762.4 miles
6 MIRABAUD at 1278.4 miles
7 NEUTROGENA at 1312.8 miles
8 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1716.1 miles
9 HUGO BOSS at 1952.5 miles
10 WE ARE WATER at 2243.7 miles
11 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 2286.4 miles
12 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 2292.5 miles