Conditions are getting better on the comfort front for the majority of the fleet, yet from a strategic perspective more difficulties lie ahead. It seems today that only race leader can actually look forward to tomorrow: having picked up some steady wind, Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall are leaving Hugo Boss behind, the Anglo-Australian duet fighting upwind in light airs.
Further back, Temenos II and Mutua Madrileña are still neck and neck, coping with decreasing winds and having to work their way around the high pressure system on their path...
After having these past two days been caught up in storms and squalls, Jean-Pierre Dick seemed relieved to have found a more stable breeze when we spoke to him today during the video conference. 'The Trades are steadier and stronger now, we're reaching in 15 to 20 knots of breeze. The sea is very blue, it's getting warmer and the conditions are great. it's like tropical sailing!', said Paprec-Virbac 2's skipper, enjoying the sight of his boat's speedometer while knowing that further back, his rivals aboard Hugo Boss were significantly slower. 'They're going through what we experienced ourselves, and going upwind on the kind of boats we sail is really painful. We're going to extend our lead, but the Doldrums lie ahead, so we'd better gain as many miles a we can while we can, because Hugo Boss will come back strong at some point.'
Meanwhile, if Jean-Pierre and Damian are already working hard on their weather tactics for the feared Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape try to fight their way out of a tricky area. While at the same time having to cope with yet more rudder problems, which might explain Alex's lack of enthusiasm during today's call. 'We discovered our rudder is broken again today we have had to try and sort it out again, it has cost us some miles whilst we were trying to fix it. We thought the last repairs would last but they havent, we hope it will last now but are not overly hopeful at this stage', said Alex.
A tired Dominique Wavre answered the phone today aboard Temenos II, and explained that both him and Michèle were sensing the effects of sleep deprivation, having had to hand steer under spinnaker for the past three to four days. 'We take turns on deck, two hours on, two hours off, and manage to grab an hour of sleep here and there. The fact that the wind is dropping ahead of us isn't particularly comforting, because sailing upwind in light airs is also very tiring and requires a lot of concentration.' Still only 60 miles ahead of Mutua Madrileña, Temenos II must feel the pressure even though Javier Sanso explained today that they wouldn't really be able to gain more miles: 'We're in the same system, Dominique and Michèle are very good and the boat is quicker (...) yet it's very interesting and a lot quicker when you have someone to race with', explained the ever-cheerful Bubi, letting on that himself and Pachi were getting a lot of sleep, the boat being stable under autopilot. This contrasts with Temenos II's situation, and could be - to a certain extent - explained by the fact that psychologically it is much more comfortable to be the one putting the pressure on that to be the one having to deal with it... But different wave directions probably enter the equation.
Educacion Sin Fronteras gave us an account of her first Cape Horn passage, which sounded absolutely delightful: 'It was a great, great moment, very emotional. The black silhouette of the cape appeared beneath the heavy sky, the wind was blowing at 25 to 30 knots, the sun came out and started to make the top of the waves shine... It was simply magical (...) I wanted to thank everyone supporting and sharing our adventure, you're helping me get through this journey.' Quotes, Alex Thomson
'The situation is not very complicated for us at all! We passed the front, have sailed into the high, will hang a left and go to Fernando, if we follow the track of Virbac we will be a little slower than him he will make miles. Both of us are in relatively stable conditions him more than us - but it is very uncomplicated for us'. Day 74 - January 23, 16:00 GMT - Position report with distance to leader
1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 - Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL - 3697 to finish
2. HUGO BOSS - Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE - 650
3. TEMENOS II - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1675
4. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 1737
5. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS - Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES - 2959
Abandoned - VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT - Roland JOURDAIN / Jean Luc NELIAS
Abandoned - ESTRELLA DAMM - Guillermo ALTADILL / Jonathan MCKEE
Abandoned - DELTA DORE - Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET
Abandoned - PRB - Vincent Riou / Sebastien JOSSE www.barcelonaworldrace.org