Barcelona World Race weather gods to smile?

Onboard Estrella Damm - Barcelona World Race
Barcelona World Race day 69.

With the relative level of turmoil and uncertainty which exists among some of the peloton boats which are just into the Atlantic, the weather gods might yet be smile for any who decide or need to make a technical stop in the early stages of the Atlantic.

A low pressure system appears set to develop off the Uruguayan coast which might provide something of a lifeline for them to get back into the race, but the way it also looks there might be some solid opportunities after the weekend for Hugo Boss and GAES Centros Auditivos. The low will allow a shorter, more direct course downwind, in flatter water with the possibility for some fast sailing.

Kito De Pavant and Seb Audigane are doubtless at a low ebb as they head into Ushuaia or somewhere close. In these situations it is the gnawing uncertainty which is worst, not knowing exactly what is wrong. Sadly of course, De Pavant set off really wanting to make sure they finish this race after having to retire from the Vendée Globe and from the more recent Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale.

This new weather scenario, with the low pressure arriving, can set a good option from Estrella Damm but it is a while into their routing before the balance between the east and west options tips in favour of the West.

Thursday the east looks best and getting west gives a period of uncomfortable upwind sailing to start with, but as soon as the low starts to form east of the Falklands then the gate starts to open.

For Virbac-Paprec 3 and Mapfre the end of their high pressure challenge seems to be in sight, especially for the French duo who can expect to get to the first of the SE’lies later. And for both, as they emerge into the trades which are quite well established for the moment, then there will be sigh of relief, knowing the margin they have to third and the distance they have left to the finish.

Mapfre have been quicker still this morning, thanks to their better wind angle – reaching – but they are heading more directly to the centre of the high, but Iker and Xabi are 132 miles behind this morning, making 7.8kts to Virbac-Paprec 3’s 5.1kts.

Neutrogena seem to be back up to a solid 12 knots speed in fourth place, pursuing Renault Z.E Sailing Team. For Pachi Rivero and Toño Piris this new low will offer a dilemma whether they stick with the easterly routing which will increase in miles as the high moves east, or do they get back to the west, trying to get across to the downwind conditions, and – in basic terms – to cut any losses early and cover the fleet?

Hugo Boss meanwhile are expected at Cape Horn tomorrow evening with GAES Centros Auditivos Friday morning. Both look set to have a lot of wind at the Horn and will be relieved to get around into the Atlantic.

Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret were the sixth Barcelona World Race duo to break from the Pacific to the Atlantic, crossing the longitude of Cape Horn at 0410hrs, 15d 2h 10m after passing the longitude of Wellington.
Estrella Damm was very close behind them passing at 0450hrs UTC, Alex Pella passing for the first time. Groupe Bel crossed last night at 2120hrs UTC ensuring that Kito De Pavant completes his first passing of the famous landmark.

Ryan Breymaier and Boris Herrmann clearly detoured to approximately the same spot as Mapfre did to make some technical repair perhaps, between around 2030hrs and 2130hrs last night, but since then have been making reasonable progress, some 11-12kts. They have 125 miles in hand over Estrella Damm this morning.

Boris Herrmann reported to race direction: 'Approximately one hour after rounding Cape Horn, we were sailing upwind in 19 knots, and the fitting at the head of the solent stay broke. The sail fell into the water, and was recovered without incident. We are already in contact with our shore crew regarding the problem, and will be sheltering in the lee of peninsula Mitre or Ilsa Nueva to affect repairs and continue on. We will not be stopping, nor do we require assistance.'
We Are Water duo Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti are due to depart from Wellington at 1248hrs UTC.