Paprec-Virbac expected to finish 22-00 hrs GMT

Last sunrise on board Paprec-Virbac 2 - ©Paprec-Virbac 2

Paprec-Virbac 2 is counting down the miles as they close in on the finishing line and an historic victory in the first edition of the Barcelona World Race. Skippers Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall are expected to finish around 22:00hrs GMT tonight.

The final hours aren’t without tension – in a mechanical sport, a win can’t be assured until the finishing line is crossed. But at this point, it would take a terrible calamity to deny skippers Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall the glory they have earned.

Positions at 16:00 hrs Monday 11 February 2008

Pos - Boat Name - DTF
1 Paprec Virbac 2 53nm
2 Hugo Boss + 404nm
3 Temenos ll + 1125nm
4 Mutua Madrileña + 1370nm
5 Educación Sin Fronteras + 2787nm

“This is going to be a real happy moment and it will be a great relief to cross the line,” Jean-Pierre admitted. “The finish represents all the work done by the entire team. I am lucky to live this last great moment in my home waters, that’s a fantastic feeling and with Damian we are really happy to be on track to win this first edition of the Barcelona World Race...”

The Paprec-Virbac 2 team is one of just two to reach the final stages of the race without having stopped, adding another layer of achievement to their success. Jean-Pierre and Damian have had to work incredibly hard to manage their equipment through 25 000 hard miles of offshore ocean sailing.

“We're certainly looking forward to getting ashore now. We've been pushing aside thoughts of the finish but it's always in the back of your mind. You try and force yourself not to think about it, but now it's so close we can feel the coast getting nearer and we're really looking forward to getting there,” Damian said.

This morning, Hugo Boss joined the race leader in the Mediterranean Sea after a horrible night in the Strait of Gibraltar. Storm force winds, a frightful sea state, broken gear and plenty of commercial shipping traffic made the passage a nightmare.

“We have had a very rough 24 hours and last night we had the worst conditions we've seen in the entire race,” Andrew Cape reported over a very poor connection this morning. “We had 50 knots winds, and were short tacking up the Gibraltar Strait. We broke a bit of gear during a big puff and had to reach off to repair it…but we got through it.”

Conditions are forecast to moderate now for Hugo Boss, giving Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape a chance to recuperate. But today, Capey was quick to pay tribute to the race leader: “Both Alex and I want to congratulate the guys on Paprec-Virbac 2. They've sailed a great and they thoroughly deserve to win.”

In the battle for third place, Mutua Madrileña has elected to gamble on an Easterly routing, in hope of closing up the gap with Temenos II.

Now we are 250 miles behind, but we have 15 knots of wind and 12 knots speed as we head to the African coast,” said Pachi Rivero today. “We hope that we will get a chance to come back between the Canary Islands and the Strait of Gibraltar, we are still pushing hard and have our options.”

At the tail end of the fleet, Educación sin Fronteras is out of the doldrums and making 10 knots, while heading North. The finish is 2800 miles away:

“We are into the trade winds since this morning,” said Albert Bargués today. “We have been in a belt of squalls but right now we are heading north at a good ten knots. We are both okay, not eating very much, all the sweet stuff has gone but we still have plenty of food, we calculated for 105 days. Our ETA for Barcelona is for the 25 or 26 February.”