Paprec-Virbac 2 continues blistering pace

Estrella Damm skippers ©Eben Human - Die Burger - Barcelona World Race

Estrella Damm has been forced to retire from the Barcelona World Race following its diversion to Cape Town to repair a problem with its rudders.

In a press release, the team stated: 'It has been possible to repair the rudder system, but it has become evident to the team that it will not be possible to test the rudder system fully and get Estrella Damm back in the race to stay in contention with the remainder of the fleet within a reasonable timeframe. In addition, the serious consideration of safety for the skippers and the boat rejoining the race at its most perilous stage has to be taken into account.'

It's an indication of how difficult a challenge the race poses that the retirement leaves six teams who remain racing in the Barcelona World Race. Today, the leader Paprec-Virbac 2 continuing to set a blistering pace and adding miles (39 miles over Hugo Boss) to its lead. But that could change over the next 36 hours as the weather conditions evolve.

'We are coming into a situation with new breeze coming in for the boats we have to keep sailing fast,' said co-skipper Damian Foxall. 'We are in a great rhythm on board now but when we get past this we have the New Zealand gate and there are a lot of points where Hugo Boss or the others can come back.we're only a third of the way in, just warming up!'

'Warming up' may be an odd choice of words, because it is still absolutely freezing on board, with temperatures just above the freezing point, high humidity, and plenty of rain and snow showers. Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick sent a list of what he was wearing.check the breaking news section on the new, 'wider', to see how he attempts to stay warm and dry.

Hugo Boss has jumped up to second place because Veolia Environnement has elected to make a pit-stop in the Kerguelen Islands. The team is having some problems with its engine, which is critical for keeping the batteries charged to run all the electrical systems on board. Under the rules they will be obliged to stop for a minimum of 12 hours. The clock began ticking at 14:35 GMT.

On Temenos II, the extreme cold is taking its toll on co-skipper Michèle Paret, who wrote an email to us this morning'

'Another dark night like a lot of others, wet, icy and windy, the eyes fixed on the instrument displays, the radar and the temperature of the water- yesterday evening it was oscillating between 1.2 and 1.8°C, which was permanently displayed in front of me, the index finger poised to press the automatic pilot buttons. Despite the fact that the engine is on, we have just 4 little degrees down below to warm us up. We have ended getting the 'extreme' duvet out.'

While at the back of the fleet, Educación sin Fronteras is enjoying the full 'Roaring Forties' experience, and was the fastest boat polled at 16:00GMT.

Day 33 - December 13, 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 - 245
4. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1123
5. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 1873

Abandoned - DELTA DORE - Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET
Abandoned - PRB - Vincent Riou / Sebastien JOSSE

In Quotes - Jonathan McKee, Estrella Damm: 'I have always had great respect for (the other sailors on this race). They are truly great sailors and teams, with all the skills to be first class - my hat goes off to those guys (the race leaders).it is absolutely amazing what they are doing in very tough conditions. They are very fast, and pushing hard. it's really amazing.'