Barcelona World Race - Somewhat predictably there was a sharp contrast in moods today between the two Spanish duos which now lead and the two French crews who are making a pit-stop in Recife, Brazil to make technical repairs.
While they are doing everything possible to maximise their advantage over their French rivals, so today also offered an opportunity for the crews of Barcelona based leaders Estrella Damm, and of MAPFRE, rivals from Sanxenxo in the north of Spain, and former Volvo race crew-mates - to share enjoy the moment.
Making easy, regular progress in the modest E’ly trade winds, perfect warm sunshine and fairly flat seas, Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella on Estrella Damm and Xabi Fernandez on MAPFRE – some 100 miles behind (only 30 miles in terms of latitude) - could all scarcely conceal their pleasure at leading the race at this early stage.
Smiles were broad, moods relaxed and, when they were linked by today’s visio-conference, the banter was boisterous.
Xabi Fernandez joked: 'Wait a bit, I’m going to catch you!'
Pepe Ribes: 'Where should we go? Left or right?'
Xabi. 'I was heading to Recife but I don’t know where to go now!'
Pepe: 'We are having a fantastic day, luxury sailing, nice wind, sun….'
If the Spanish teams were in fiesta mood, in Recife there was time for the Foncia and Virbac-Paprec 3 pairs to grab a shower and a very little sleep while their technical teams worked on their respective IMOCA Open 60’s some 100 metres or so apart.
Having been built in opposite hemispheres, since they left Martinique on the same ship for their delivery to Barcelona the two teams and the two boats have been all but joined at the hip. And in Recife the skippers found themselves resting and showering in the same apartment.
Foncia was first to arrive in the port at 2330hrs (UTC) last night and were expecting to leave early tomorrow morning, reported to be around 0100hrs to 0300hrs (UTC) after completing their crash box repair. A slow arrival through the night shut down in the coastal breeze, saw Dick and Peyron arrived at 0840hrs (UTC) this morning, and they were reported to be hoping to leave around 2100hrs (UTC) this Saturday evening after replacing their main sheet track.
If they could take the advantage of an evening breeze before the local thermal winds fold then that would be a net gain to Foncia.
Through their stoppage time Estrella Damm has been making around 13 knots, MAPFRE slightly less from their westerly position at around 9-11 knots, which suggests the net gain to the Spanish boats will be at least 300 miles, almost certainly more. The French duo will almost certainly need to sail a high, relatively slow angle to clear themselves of the vagaries of the coastal breezes, before hooking back into the E’ly trade winds. But the advantage to Estrella Damm and MAPFRE could increase as they see the breeze move more NE to allow them a faster, higher course relative to the chasing pack.
Kito de Pavantand Seb Audigane moved up to third place on the rankings this afternoon, on Groupe Bel which one week ago tonight was seventh with a 220 miles deficit on the leader.
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