Barcelona World Race - Back in the black

Barcelona World Race
Finally Estrella Damm and Groupe Bel get moving again after a long, frustrating period making very slow progress towards Cape Farewell. Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella are making 10.5kts this evening (NZ morning) and Kito De Pavant and Seb Audigane on Groupe Bel, four miles behind, are making 9.8kts.

If the duo can take any solace from their anguish over this period in the calms, it is that they have been stuck in the same sticky stuff together. Of course Groupe Bel's ambition has just been to get to Wellington to get on with their technical stop, while the Estrella Damm duo are determined to get back on the trail of Mapfre who are now the best part of 244 miles ahead now, and extending all the time.

Mapfre's brothers-in-arms Iker and Xabi are on fire again, quickest of the top five making 14.9kts this morning (evening UTC).

Central Lechera Asturiana, on the heels of a low pressure system, are quickest of the fleet making 18.8kts on the last schedule of Saturday

Ryan Breymaier, Pepe Ribes, Pachi Rivero, Xabi Fernandez: the best of today's skippers' quotes from the race course of the Barcelona World Race.

Ryan Breymaier, (Neutrogena):'We finally managed to get ahead in our little battle for the moment and that feels awesome. We spent the day sailing upwind and reaching and then tacked in this light air and are back into breeze now, more or less reaching towards Cook Strait. It feels like we are on the home stretch and on the way to New Zealand which feels great.

It is nice for us and it should build to 20-25 kts and so we will go down the sailplan Solent and probably a reef by the time it is maximum pressure, and then easing as we get closer to Cook Strait.

We were pushing super, super hard to get past them the other day, keeping up too much sail area when we shouldn’t have, reaching with Solent and two reefs we did almost 28 knots on one surf, just trying as hard as we could to go as fast as possible, those are the conditions that suit us: lots of breeze when the other boats are having to slow down to keep from burying the bow, we are just pushing harder. We knew that was conditions which were good for us and used that to our advantage, and now they are just climbing back slowly and surely, so we just need to make sure that when we get good conditions like that we can stay make it work for us.

I would say that the boats are very very different between them (Mirabaud), downwind in breeze and big waves we have an advantage over other boats because the bow comes up on our boat, the bow comes up, we don’t push water, we don’t submarine. But most of the time in outer conditions other boats will be faster, especially in flat water the other guys definitely have an advantage, so I would say a lot of it is the boat but Boris and I have sailed a lot in breeze, but in certain conditions we are fast.'

Xabi Fernandez (ESP) MAPFRE:'It is a little bit of both (the decision not to stop is driven by the heart or the head?). We never wanted to stop because we really want to finish this around the world race without stopping. And sometimes you feel that you have to stop to make repairs, but I think the last week, the last three or four days have been good for fixing things. We managed to fix the J1 to the mast properly, and that was the biggest problem and right now the J1 is sailing and the boat is good. There is no reason to stop, we are OK and we see if the wind comes and just keep going.

The sail is fixed now. It would have been silly to go on without the Solent, it is such and important sail: upwind, reaching and even downwind in strong winds, so once we had fixed this problem there was no reason to stop.'

Pepe Ribes (ESP), Estrella Damm: 'The fact that MAPFRE doesn´t stop does not affect us at all. You stop if you have a big problem that you can´t repair onboard. has a big problem and everyone that hasn´t will not stop. We are mostly worried about the main sail, the day before yesterday we dropped it and saw the repair was perfect. If the main sail doesn´t oblige us to stop then we won´t stop. The meteorology is quite complicated and what 48 hours ago looked quite straightforward is now a mess. We have a high pressure with different centres moving around, none of the forecasts – New Zealand, Australian and our GRIBS are nor corresponding with one another. Everything that we thought in advance we have had to re-think and at the moment we are just racing like this is a coastal race.

Now the mainsail is not a worry, we will look at it again when we get a calm, but probably we will not worry again until after Cape Horn.'

Pachi Rivero (ESP), Renault Z.E Sailing Team: 'There are big seas and crashing waves and it is quite rare. We have been close hauling at good speeds, then an hour with no wind and then gybing and sailing down-wind. Now we have northerly winds which are a bit open. We were thinking of stopping because we had a problem with the main sail track but yesterday we got into the Parlier spirit and we did some repairs and it looks like it is ok. We are looking at it constantly and its fine. If everything goes alright then we will not stop. We tried to rest since the repairs. Now we have very changeable conditions. There are lots of quiet moments and then the next second you are very active, but it is alright. We have to rest before Cook Strait. We are OK when it comes to fuel and food. We think we will be in the Cook Strait Sunday night or Monday morning.

The weather is good if we get there on Sunday or Monday because later on it gets more complicated.

We are not surprised that guys have not stopped, if you don’t have to stop for a big repair then nobody´s going to stop. If anybody does stop it will be because they have big problems.'

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