The Barcelona World Race fleet is sprinting south today, as at 10:08 GMT this morning Educación sin Fronteras, crossed the third scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha. The entire fleet is now racing towards the next gate, south of the Cape of Good Hope, nearly 4,000 miles away.
Vincent Riou's PRB had the quickest elapsed time on the third stage of the race, with Veolia Environnement second, just over two hours behind. Sitting seventh overall in the race, Mutua Madrileña had the third fastest time on the stage - an impressive performance. Skipper Javier Sansó says they worked the 2003 vintage boat aggressively over the past several days.
'We're pushing really hard - I don't think we could push harder. We've been under spinnaker for most of the stage, so we have really been trying.'
Paprec-Virbac 2 and PRB are still duelling at the head of the fleet, separated by just 9 miles on distance to finish. Paprec-Virbac 2 has sailed more to the east compared to PRB as the boats race down opposite sides of the small volcanic island chain of Trindade and Martim Vaz.
'We know that we can't pass too close to this island so we've split on opposite sides of it,' explained Seb Josse, co-skipper on PRB. 'So there are about 60 miles between us and Paprec-Virbac 2.'
The leading pair has added to its lead, but the chasing pack appears to be gambling on an easterly route which would see them sail a shorter course, but with increased risk of getting trapped in the windless clutches of the St. Helena high.
'We're under the influence of the St Helena High which is on good form at the moment and it'll stay that way for the rest of the South Atlantic,' said Roland Jourdain on Veolia Environnement. 'We're going down the long Brazilian coast with winds from the East which will turn gradually to the Northeast.'
Whether the easterly gamble pays off will play out over the course of the weekend and into early next week.
Day 20 - November 20, 15:45 GMT - Position report with distance to leader
1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 - Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL - 0.0
2. PRB - Vincent Riou / Sebastien JOSSE - 8.7
3. VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT - Roland JOURDAIN / Jean Luc NELIAS - 170.6
4. HUGO BOSS - Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE - 307.6
5. DELTA DORE - Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET - 330.2
6. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 413.0
7. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 448.4
8. ESTRELLA DAMM - Guillermo ALTADILL / Jonathan MCKEE - 607.6
9. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS - Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES - 842.9 Jonathan McKee, Estrella Damm:
'We're gradually getting things sorted out and we're trying to sail the boat and keep it moving as fast as possible. And we're getting more confident; knowing how to sail the boat fast with less effort.' http://www.barcelonaworldrace.org