Barcelona World Race - Robust conditions take their toll

Forum Maritim Catala - Barcelona World Race
© Chris Cameron / DPPI / Barcelona World Race
Barcelona World Race - From the leading duo counting down their final 750 or 800 miles to Cape Horn to those nearly 5000 miles behind fighting to make it across the Tasman to the Cook Strait, the vast majority of the fleet today are either racing in strong winds, or expecting them imminently.

Virbac-Paprec 3 and Mapfre, some 78 miles apart this afternoon, are trying to outrun the approach of a fast moving low pressure system, the regenerated, reinvigorated Atu (Atu v2.0?) and escape around Cape Horn into the Atlantic. But it is the fleet’s tail-gunners on We Are Water which has struggled the most today after being temporarily knocked flat by a big wave, taking water inside the boat.

Jaume Mumbrú and Cali Sanmarti reported that they are both fine, but unable to gybe due to a broken lazy jack and other sundry problems the duo were making slow southeasterly course during the early afternoon, before heaving while they baled water out of the boat and try to sort out their electronics problems. The impact of the wave ripped apart plastic spray curtains which protect part of the cockpit, Part of the electrical equipment is not working at the moment.

And Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella last night (day time local for them) suffered a series of involuntary tacks when Gaes Centros Auditivos’ autopilot hiccuped twice. With two sails partly in the water, the duo had their hands full, choosing to run north and take some pressure off themselves and the boat. The robust hard reaching conditions, with the wind slightly forward of the beam in difficult seas, made their choice of sacrificing some miles to Hugo Boss a difficult one, but a necessary one at the time.

'Things are horrible. We are upwind in 35 knots of wind and it is pretty wet and miserable. We had an ‘everything’ problem; the good thing about it all was that it was daylight when it happened. It was a catalog of disasters and it took us quite a lot to get through it. And I just had a very brief time in the bean bag and I said to her that I feel like I have been beaten up. I feel quite exhausted by it. We really want this wind to drop now.

We have come back on course now. We decided that we can’t run away to the north forever because it does just make the course worse after wards. We are back where we should be after having a bit of rest and recovery. We are now just upwind and it is 30-35kts.' Said Caffari on this morning’s Visio-Conference.

'It was a bit emotional at the time but we did manage to giggle about it, we found the funny side of it, the fact that we were so ridiculously wet. But everything is still working, the boat is OK. We got the sails back on board, so of all the things that did go wrong we dealt with it all well.'

The duel at the front of the fleet between Virbac-Paprec 3 and Mapfre now sees the French duo taking a clear advantage with their more northerly tracking. Individually both sets of co-skippers reported that they were struggling with the very changeable and unstable winds – requiring many sail changes and constant vigilance – in the brisk, but variable breezes sent by the low pressure center which was just to the south east of them today, slightly closer for the Spanish duo.

Despite the intensity of the battle with the Virbac-Paprec 3, the evident chagrin at losing miles to the French pair, not to mention the extreme cold minus four degrees Celsius and the fact that it was in the middle if a dark, dirty night - it was again an inspiration today to see the pleasure that Fernandez, Spain’s three times 49er world champion, double Olympic medalist and twice Volvo round the world veteran, takes in answering questions put to him by the young local Barcelona schoolchildren.

The duel with Dick and Peyron is dismissed for a few stolen moments Fernandez’s smile breaks his lips, the twinkle in his eyes lights up the gloomy fug inside Mapfre as he takes time and pleasure to answer each question fully. One of this race’s unique and pure pleasures, one which perhaps will inspire a new generation of round the world racers?

And the duel for third evens out again this afternoon as Renault Z.E’s Toño Piris and Pachi Rivero fight back, nineteen miles ahead of Neutrogena this afternoon both sailing at even speeds.

A special Visio-Conference in the early afternoon linked up guests and representative of sponsors Mirabaud with Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret.

Rankings at 1400hrs Tuesday First March 2011

First Virbac-Paprec 3 at 7642 miles to finish

Second Mapfre 79 miles from the leader

Third Renault Z.E at 1411 miles

Fourth Neutrogena at 1430 miles

Fifth Mirabaud at 1597 miles

Sixth Groupe Bel at 1887 miles

Seventh Estrella Damm Sailing Team at 1957miles

Eighth Hugo Boss at 2308 miles

Ninth Gaes Centros Auditivos at 2444miles

Tenth Forum Maritim Catala at 3907 miles

Eleventh Central Lechera Asturiana at 4236 miles

Twelfth We Are Water at 4859 miles

RTD Foncia

RTD President

Barcelona World Race website