Hugo Boss has put on a powerful and impressive display of speed. Skipper Alex Thomson has clawed back over 90 miles in the past 24 hours as Hugo Boss chases Paprec-Virbac 2 up to the Australian safety gate. Both are expected to pass the gate later today before bearing off and heading for Cook Strait; and this afternoon, it's clear the pace of Hugo Boss is making skipper Alex Thomson very happy.
Andrew Cape in cockpit ©Hugo Boss - Barcelona World Race
'We've made up loads of miles. It's a mixture of it being the right conditions for this boat and Paprec in front of us have had less wind,' said an understated Alex Thomson. 'But we haven't really been pushing very hard. It's been pretty relaxed. Been getting lots of sleep and watched a great movie last night.We were shocked and disappointed to hear about Veolia this morning. It's a stark reminder of how fragile we all are out here.'
It's a different story on board the race leader, Paprec-Virbac 2, where co-skipper Damian Foxall sounded tired and more than a little frustrated.
'We're pushing water uphill,' he said. 'For a couple of days now we have been sailing along a very slow moving front and there's nowhere we can go apart from straight forward. There are light winds ahead and there's fresh wind coming in from behind with Hugo Boss.we've really got a race on our hands.'
Further back, skippers Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret continue to nurse Temenos II towards New Zealand where they will stop to repair a keel problem. Behind them, Mutua Madrileña has been the fastest boat polled over the past 12 hours as they enjoy favourable power-reaching conditions.
At the tail end of the fleet, Educación sin Fronteras appears to have positioned itself well to escape the worst of a powerful Southern Ocean depression. Servanne Escoffier said they expect 30 to 40 knot westerlies over the next few days, and they are taking all the necessary steps to be safe as they power along in the Furious Fifties.
Veolia Environnement has become the third boat to suffer catastrophic mast failure in the Barcelona World Race when the French entry dismasted on Monday evening. Skippers Roland Jourdain and Jean-Luc Nélias were unhurt and are safe.
'We were sailing very quiet, downwind, with a big gennaker and a full mainsail,' explained Jean-Luc by video conference this morning. 'Suddenly there was a big cloud and the wind increased a lot. I went on deck to ease the main sheet. Then we hit the bottom of the wave and the boat stopped and the mast broke.'
They've made a jury rig and are sailing at seven knots towards the southwest tip of Australia, more than 1,500 nautical miles away. Last week, it was Delta Dore who dismasted and today, skippers Sidney Gavignet and Jérémie Beyou arrived safe and sound with the boat in Cape Town.
Day 38 - December 18, 16:00 GMT - Position report with distance to leader
1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 - Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL - 0
2. HUGO BOSS - Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE - 38
3. VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT - Roland JOURDAIN / Jean Luc NELIAS - dismasted
4. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1295
5. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 1950
6. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS - Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES - 2702
Abandoned - ESTRELLA DAMM - Guillermo ALTADILL / JONATHAN MCKEE
Abandoned - DELTA DORE - Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET
Abandoned - PRB - Vincent Riou / Sebastien JOSSE
In Quotes - Javier Sansó, Mutua Madrileña: 'We are now going fast; under storm jib and with two reefs in the main we are making 17 knots of boat speed and surfing with 24 knots. We are happy and not forcing anything, we want to keep our speeds up but also want to get out of this area as soon as possible for safety reasons. We are also looking forward to seeing the sun even if only for a few hours especially to be able to take everything out of the boat to dry. When we get into our sleeping bag it's wet, our boots are wet and there is always water dripping on us- it is bearable for a few days, but we are now actually just about ready to get out of here and in three or four days I think we will be in higher latitudes where things should get better.'