Michéle Paret working onboard at sunset, Temenos II ©Temenos II - Barcelona World Race
Over the past five days, Hugo Boss has managed to cut the lead of Paprec-Virbac 2 in half, gaining nearly 450 miles in terms of distance to finish.
It's a phenomenal pace, aided in no small part by their quick passage of the doldrums over the past day or so, when Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss roared through what is typically a hard roadblock with 10 knots of boatspeed. As a result, the black boat is now just 433 miles behind the race leader, having gained a further 30 miles over the past 24 hours.
But skipper Alex Thomson says the gain on the leaderboard is a bit misleading, due to what he predicts to be the upwind nature of the remainder of the race.
'The fact that we have caught up miles in the last few days means absolutely nothing whatsoever,' said Alex, sounding quite philosophical about the situation, rather than frustrated. He continued: 'There is nothing we can do. We have the choice of going north or tacking up the African coast which is about as close to suicide as you can probably get. What you need to do here is sail upwind fast and wait and see what is going to take us into the Mediterranean.'
Damian Foxall, from the leading Paprec-Virbac 2, agreed with Alex to a certain extent, but cautioned that the situation could change in a hurry.
'In terms of 'distance to finish' miles, you do have to be careful because they're still downwind of us and it's an upwind race now. If you measured a line between us and them it would be about 600 or 700 miles and that's maybe a bit more realistic figure.(But) it can change from an upwind situation to a downwind one quite quickly. If we had a cold front or a low come through they could maybe pick up into that behind us and in that scenario they could come back to us further...I think we have to be careful. We just have to stay in the wind, stay between them and the mark, go in the right direction and avoid any holes. That's a lot of balls to line up there, but it is still a reasonable lead. I think we'd be very disappointed if we blew it.'
In the battle for a podium finish between Temenos II and Mutua Madrileña, the situation favours the leading boat, Temenos II at the moment. Although they are clinging to a tenuous, 81 mile lead, they've managed to add 20 miles to that margin since yesterday and Mutua Madrileña's Javier Sansó expects that will continue for the next day or two.
'For the next 48 hours, I don't expect a big change. Temenos II will probably gain a little bit. It's really hard sailing now because of the wind shifts. We're constantly trimming and adjusting course.'
This afternoon, Educación sin Fronteras fell into a light patch and slowed considerably. But overall, the fifth placed boat has been making good progress, putting another 200 miles in the bank over the past day, and gaining 40 miles on the leader.
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Day 81 - January 30, 14:00 GMT - Position report with distance to leader
1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 - Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL - 2328 to finish
2. HUGO BOSS - Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE - 433
3. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1540
4. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 1621
5. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS - Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES - 2806
Abandoned - VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT - Roland JOURDAIN / Jean Luc NELIAS
Abandoned - ESTRELLA DAMM - Guillermo ALTADILL / JONATHAN MCKEE
Abandoned - DELTA DORE - Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET
Abandoned - PRB - Vincent Riou / Sebastien JOSSE
Quotes - Javier Sansó, Mutua Madrileña: 'We have to keep the boat fast so we're constantly adjusting course and trimming. This is almost harder work than going downwind in the South at 20 knots. We're constantly grinding in and out and trimming. Temenos II is going to gain a little more but then after the doldrums a whole new race starts for us. It's all or nothing. We have nothing to lose; losing by 40 miles or 400 miles makes no difference...everything is wide open. We'll need a bit of luck, a bit of experience and a bit of strategy. I hope you're enjoying the race there as much as we are here.'