Barcelona World Race - As the first depression of the ‘big south’ spins off south eastwards towards the depths of the Indian Ocean, there is a certain temporary stability visited on the positions of the leading trio of the Barcelona World Race this afternoon, but no such luxury for the chasing pack.
The fast moving front which has presented leaders Virbac-Paprec 3 and Foncia with a slingshot move south east, today allowing them to satisfy the requirements of passing the first security gate, but it has spirited the leading duo even further from the third placed MAPFRE and even more from the main body of the 13 boat fleet, which may still have a further encounter with the persistent high pressure system spreading again across the South Atlantic.
Since they returned from ‘invisible’ mode this morning, Foncia have been consistently around 27-28 miles behind leader Virbac-Paprec 3, running a nearly parallel course some 25 miles to the north of the blue and white hulled IMOCA Open 60 of Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron.
As the front moves away from this afternoon and evening they will gybe in succession for the SW’ly winds behind the front and focus on the quickest course to the second gate on a fairly direct course.
Though they are now some 517 miles behind the leaders MAPFRE have strengthened their position in third place. Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez have 160 miles in hand over fourth placed Estrella Damm, and the top Spanish duo will likely continue with brisk SW’ly breezes for a further 24 hours, allowing them to move still further ahead of those behind and give them a fighting chance to keep pace with the runaway leaders.
But behind them the high pressure in the South Atlantic will try and snare three quarters of the fleet, as the window of opportunity presented by the westerly breezes of the last 36 hours closes on the fingers of these chasing duos. In the wake of the depression, light winds will return, even headwinds for some in the north which are still trying to break into the 40’s latitudes.
For them it has become increasingly important to keep spirits up, to roll with the punches which come their way this early in the race. Such was the reminder of Boris Herrmann (GER) who was linked up live by video today from Neutrogena in eighth place to Europe’s biggest, and one of the world’s largest boat shows, the annual BOOT boat show in Dusseldorf:
'It’s always hard to keep smiling when you lose. But on the other hand you need to have fun onboard on a trip like this. And we’re still having a lot of fun.' Remarked Herrmann, 'We had some issues but managed everything okay. No temporary chewing gum solutions, quite sophisticated work. We do use the chewing gum to have something to bite on because we’re both hungry all day.'
But finding it hard to put on a brave face this afternoon are the Central Lechera Asturiana duo Juan Merediz and Fran Palacio. Though they are no strangers to adversity, having fought a tough battle to be ready for the race start after losing their mast of the Owen Clarke designed former Ecover 2/Mutua Madrileña four weeks before the start whilst off Lisbon, the duo took a hard decision to go for a technical stop in Cape Town to make a repair to their keel ram hydraulics.
The duo, on their first round the world race, have sailed a solid and often astute race down the Atlantic, but will have to divert from their present duel with Hugo Boss. Juan Merediz explained:
'We’re disappointed, annoyed but still our spirits are OK. What I’ve worried about from the first day was to start and make it back to Barcelona. This is just something unfortunate along the way but we have to do it for safety. It’s another hurdle in the way and it’s on our way to the Southern Ocean. Afterwards we will keep going the same, redoubling our efforts.
Unfortunately we will lose more time getting to Cape Town than with the actual repair. The keel gives the power to the boat and right now the power is compromised. The most important thing is to keep fighting.'
The stopover will cost them miles on their near rivals, but the actual repair should only take a matter of two to three hours. Ranking at 1400hrs UTC Tuesday 25th January
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 18 708 miles to the finish
2 FONCIA at 27 miles from leader
3 MAPFRE at 517 miles
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 672 miles
5 GROUPE BEL at 689 miles
6 RENAULT Z.E at 743 miles
7 MIRABAUD at 850 miles
8 NEUTROGENA at 914 miles
9 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 948 miles
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 1133 miles
11 HUGO BOSS at 1190 miles
12 WE ARE WATER at 1317 miles
13 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 1394 miles
RTD PRESIDENT www.barcelonaworldrace.org