Sprinting to Gibraltar, but trouble looms ahead

Dominique Wavre onboard Temenos 11 Barcelona World Race
It's been a fantastic 24 hours for the leading boat in the Barcelona World Race as Paprec-Virbac 2 gybed overnight and began heading more towards Gibraltar at good speed. As a result, skippers Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall have piled on the miles, adding over 150 miles to their lead over the last 24 hours.

But trouble looms ahead as the weather forecast is for lighter headwinds for much of the rest of the way to Gibraltar and even beyond into the Mediterranean. This means the impressive mileage is going to slow and second placed Hugo Boss is likely to make a deep cut into the lead over the coming three or four days. Latest projections have Paprec-Virbac reaching Gibraltar on the 8th of February. That would make their finish in Barcelona likely to be on the 11th.

'We are doing our best, by sailing as fast as we can and yes we turned right last night finally. We are getting closer but we are still about 550 miles away from Gibraltar,' Jean-Pierre explained. 'We are full of hope but it is going to be difficult to get there. We are going to have to sail upwind from tomorrow morning the rest of the way there.'

'They should go faster than us today and then we should go faster and close up a bit,' confirmed Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss. 'We can't turn properly yet, we won't head for Gibraltar for another three days and then have wind on starboard tack before tacking. We won't be heading there just yet.'

And a tense battle is being fought between Temenos II and Mutua Madrileña just north of the doldrums. 'There are still a lot of miles to race and the weather situation is not very clear, which is maybe good for us,' said Javier Sansó today, cautioning that for the moment, due to relatively stable trade wind conditions, he doesn't expect much movement for the next 48 hours or so. The gap between the boats is just 95 miles.

Dominique Wavre, on Temenos II, agreed: 'It's certainly not finished yet. We still have the Azores high pressure and the Mediterranean to deal with. It's definitely not boring!! It's like an ocean match race!'

And at the back on board Educación sin Fronteras, Servanne and Albert are enjoying 'champagne' sailing conditions, with moderate winds easing their boat up towards the equator.

Day 87 - February 5, 16:00 GMT - Position report with distance to leader

1 Paprec Virbac 2 - 1,055 to finish
2 Hugo Boss + 682
3 Temenos ll + 1515
4 Mutua Madrileña + 1608
5 Educación Sin Fronteras + 2977

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

Quotes - Servanne Escoffier, Educación sin Fronteras: 'Tonight was absolutely fabulous, Venus and Jupiter aligned with the crescent moon in the south-east. The sea is calm, and we are racing upwind towards Barcelona. The boat is gliding along and you can really appreciate the pleasure of being at sea; for a few days now I would not change places with anyone. A few hours ago our surroundings were as beautiful as a drawing; nature had brought all its players together to take part in a magnificent work of art. Thank-you Mother Nature!'