Barcelona World Race fleet looms respite from full-throttle sailing, though the skippers will soon swap the exertion of sailing at full power for the mental challenge of negotiating the Doldrums as rapidly as possible.
Event leaders Virbac Paprec 3 have slowed this evening to an average of just over 11 knots since the last position update, a hint of the Doldrums’ approach as they sail at 05 26 N, nearing the critical 5 degrees latitude. Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) and Loick Peyron (FRA) have a 126-mile cushion over third placed Estrella Damm, as their long-term rivals Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA) and Francois Gabart (FRA) have announced plans for a pit-stop in Brazil to repair the damaged crash box on board Foncia. However, Foncia is still racing hard, just 65 miles behind, and Mich Desj’s team are planning on a rapid turnaround for the new VPLP-Verdier design.
Marc Liardet and Jean-Philippe Guillemot, Foncia’s shore crew managers, are currently on a flight to Recife in Brazil set to arrive later this evening, while the composites team are in the process of completing a new sacrificial bow for Foncia, which they intend to fly out tomorrow. The team will then meet with Foncia either in Recife or a neighbouring port, where the IMOCA 60 must be lifted out of the water in order to complete the repair – work they hope can be completed in around 20 hours on site.
Michel Desjoyeaux explained: 'The name of the game is to set off from Brazil as quickly as possible. The Barcelona World RACE is a long competition. There are still 22,000 miles to go and lots of things to do. It’s a peril of the sea that we can do nothing about so it isn’t really putting a dampener on our spirits. That’s racing for you.'?
Behind Estrella Damm, Mapfre remains a contender for the fastest boat on the course, covering the greatest distance in the past 24 hours to hold fourth. Fifth placed Mirabaud also suffered some sail damage during the big winds sprint south, blowing the head of their large spinnaker.
Dominque Wavre (SUI) explained: 'We were sailing full-on by 25 knots of wind when suddenly the sail fell in the water. It took us two hours to get it back onboard; it’s been a terrible fight and we are exhausted. We will reach the Doldrums in two days. If the wind drops as planned, it will give us the opportunity to repair the sail, host it and roll it again.'
Groupe Bel and Neutrogena remain a close pairing, although the ‘laughing cow’ has a slight but consistent speed edge. Meanwhile the powerful Hugo Boss design is the fastest of the rearguard, and stretching steadily away from Forum Martim Catala. Hugo Boss and We Are Water will be the next yachts to reach the Cape Verde islands, with Hugo Boss on the western edge which proved advantageous for the fleet’s earlier passage past. http://www.barcelonaworldrace.org/