Barcelona World Race leaders Estrella Damm slow through the high pressure zone, giving the chasing fleet another chance to regain miles with the South Atlantic elastic band is twanging back this evening.
Although there have been no chances in the leaderboard this evening, and Virbac Paprec 3 remains undercover in ‘stealth’ mode, there has been a change of tactics for the most westerly boat visible on the track, Foncia. Michel Desjoyeaux and Francois Gabart (FRA) are currently sailing on a heading of 163 degrees, no longer following the South American shoreline but heading south-east and potentially on course to rejoin the fleet over 500 miles further east.
While Foncia, and presumably Virbac Paprec 3, look set to begin chipping away at the miles laterally separating them from leaders Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes (ESP), for the rest of the fleet it has been more a case of closing the gap.
In the past five hours, second-placed Groupe Bel have shaved another 30 miles from the first placed boat, as has Mirabaud in third, while Boris Herrmann (GER) and Ryan Breymaier (USA) have taken their ‘distance to leader’ down by 40 miles onboard Neutrogena in sixth.
The effect has been replicated right across the fleet over the past 24 hours, with Forum Maritim Catala shedding 70 miles off their deficit in 13th place. Whether the elastic band will continue to shrink or once again expand of course depends on how the following boats encounter the light winds Estrella Damm is currently experiencing. As Toño Piris (ESP) of Renault ZE Sailing Team explained today:
'Early tomorrow morning we expect to stop for a bit. It will be a very tricky day where the wind can go down to 5 knots, but well, you never know, the reality could be another one. Anyways we need to look for the clouds because if one boat manages to start walking in the calms then they can jump better to the next patch of wind. Let’s see if we are lucky.
'The fleet is quite compacted so I think we’ll get to the Gough Island gate close to each other, maximum 3 days of difference between the first one and the last one. That will make the race much more exciting in the south.' http://www.barcelonaworldrace.org/