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Barcelona World Race 2011—Mapfre in serious pursuit of Virbac-Paprec 3

by Barcelona World Race on 5 Mar 2011
Barcelona World Race 2011 © Chris Cameron / DPPI / Barcelona World Race
Barcelona World Race - After their detour and four hours halt to try and sort out a halyards issue Mapfre have clearly channelled their frustration and disappointment into simply pressing the accelerator pedal back to the floor as they immediately try to make up the 200 miles that they lost to Barcelona World Race leaders Virbac-Paprec 3 yesterday night and this morning.

Since getting back on course and up to race speed Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez have already clawed back nearly 20 miles on the race leaders Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron.

In fact the leaders, seeing the fate of their pursuers, and the size of the margin which was opened so quickly after Cape Horn, might just have given themselves a few hours of much needed respite to recharge their energies after a very fast Pacific since Wellington and a robust passage of the Cape.

Seeing the Spanish duo get back into racing shape, Dick and Peyron responded over the later part of this afternoon’s schedule and Virbac-Paprec 3 was the quickest of the fleet on the 1400hrs ranking.

The loss will be felt deeply by Martinez and Fernandez especially after such a promising rounding yesterday, pulling miles back on the leaders on the approach to the Horn, but the repairs which included a difficult mast climb in building wind and fading light for Iker, add another dimension to the duo’s transition from highly supported Olympic and Volvo athletes, to the demanding self sufficiency of solo and short handed Imoca Open 60 racing.

They had to find a quiet location, between Lennox and Neuva islands at the entrance to the Beagle Channel, slowed or stopped for close to four hours, while they managed to get themselves one useable halyard.

Martinez reported today: 'Of course it's sad that we got so close and then this happened, but the distance now is by no means irretrievable. If we get back to 100 miles away from them, we'll be able to start thinking about that again, but if we don't, we won't be able to think about that. Also there may be the possibility that we'd have to stop over at a port for repairs and as we said before, if it's not absolutely necessary for safety reasons, we don't want to make technical stopovers and incur 48 hour penalties.

'We already knew that if we didn't stop in New Zealand that this sort of thing could happen, because you check over all of these things on land, but our aim is still a Barcelona World Race with no stopovers.'

From leading by 77 miles at Cape Horn yesterday Virbac-Paprec 3 have stripped out a margin on Mapre of 252 miles.

Delicate balance for Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret
Approaching what will amount to their 11th Cape Horn rounding between the vastly experienced Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret in Mirabaud, the next three to four days will be delicately balanced for the duo. Paret’s anemic condition has stabilised slightly according to Wavre today, but his partner and co-skipper is weakened and mostly resting trying to restore her strength.

Wavre said today that they now cannot discount a stop somewhere for blood testing and treatment for Paret, but at the moment their main focus is to get past Cape Horn and then review the situation.

'Michèle rests for the moment. She is prone to anaemia but has been resting for 24 hours. She fell over in the cockpit yesterday and since then has been trying to recover. It is important she takes her time but the situation is stable for the moment. The concern is for the health of Michèle. She has been very courageous, making sure we got through the operations and all the watches until she was too exhausted. She drew too much on her reserves. Now we will make an assessment after Cape Horn.' Said Wavre today

Mirabaud is firmly in the cavalcade of five boats which are likely to compress over their course into Cape Horn. An awkward, unstable transition – a void of variable winds between the weather systems – will make life especially testing for Renault ZE Sailing Team and to a lesser degrees Neutrogena and Mirabaud, but it is the duo behind – who both stopped in Wellington – Groupe Bel and Estrella Damm which may make the bigger gains, avoiding the vagaries of this change. In fact after Renault ZE Sailing Team, on a routing which sees them at Cape Horn Monday evening, there seems to be every chance that the four other teams could pass within the following 24 hours, likely less.

But there are additional variable in that mix: Neutrogena have been slowed and at times erratic today, victims of unstable winds or perhaps a technical problem of some description, while Estrella Damm’s Pepe Ribes reported today to his team that he has sustained an injury to his knee, compounding the bruised ribs he suffered during their battle with low pressure Atu.

In Wellington now Juan Merediz and Fran Palacio are investigating all options to keep intact their dream of bringing Central Lechera Asturiana back across the finish line of the Barcelona World Race. Full technical assessment of their fractured mast is under way.

Rankings at 1400hrs Friday fourth March 2011:
1 Virbac-Paprec 3 at 6454 miles to finish
2 Mapfre 252 miles from the leader
3 Renault Z.E at 1607 miles
4 Neutrogena at 1739 miles
5 Mirabaud at 1861 miles
6 Groupe Bel at 1934 miles
7 Estrella Damm Sailing Team at 2021 miles
8 Hugo Boss at 2437 miles
9 Gaes Centros Auditivos at 2694 miles
10 Forum Maritim Catala at 4748 miles
11 Central Lechera Asturiana at 5096miles
12 We Are Water at 5363 miles
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