Barcelona World Race - Virbac-Paprec 3 was back on the race course last night after leaving Récife at midnight (UTC) after replacing their mainsheet track. Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron are in sixth position now, 275 miles behind the leader, Estrella Damm, and some 70 miles behind Foncia.
In fact for both the French duos who made their technical stops neither operation proved very much more complex than foreseen, other than the extra work to Virbac-Paprec repairing damage to the carbon structure which supports the mainsheet track. Foncia was back on the race course considerably quicker than their published forecast.
On leaving Jean-Pierre Dick reported: 'The new main sheet track is in place. At the dock we took the chance to check the mast, the sails and to make some adjustments on board Virbac-Paprec 3 and to rest for four hours. We are back on the track trying to recover the lost miles. Sailing conditions for our return to the South Atlantic are pretty light, flat seas and approximately ten knots of wind. We will get away from the Brasilian coast and then start to deal with the Saint Helena high pressure.'
And Foncia, with the Jedi Master of the comeback Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart (Luke Skywalker?), are immediately into overdrive to try and pull back the Spanish stars on Estrella Damm. Quickest in the fleet this morning, Foncia's overnight mileage is second only to the leading boat’s.
Race leaders Estrella Damm, Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella, have chosen to move to a higher, more easterly course, looking to sail fewer miles and to protect from advances along the more direct route to the next ‘mark’, the Atlantic gate. Taking their higher course has seen them gain miles, by sailing a course which converges more to the theoretical direct route, than the boats more directly behind.
In fact they are sailing nearly 40 degrees higher than MAPFRE, and they took the chance to make their move 'left' just after last night’s final position report of Saturday.
MAPFRE, Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez, are still sticking with their westerly routing and, sailing away from the direct route, have lost some miles to the leader and to Groupe Bel. Kito de Pavant and Seb Audigane are now up to second, some ten miles behind the Spanish duo on MAPFRE.
So there is certainly a divergence of thinking among the leading four, and Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret seem to be setting up for the more westerly routing on Mirabaud
GAES Centros Auditivos lost 16 miles overnight to their recent rivals Renault ZE Sailing Team who have taken over eighth place, while Hugo Boss have also gained.
All of the fleet are now in the Southern Hemisphere, FMC passed the Equator at 0115 hrs GMT, 0210hrs for We Are Water.