Barcelona World Race update.
For the moment, approaching the longitude of Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, Virbac-Paprec 3 are runaways, Jean Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron today extending their lead to the biggest margin yet of this Barcelona World Race, some 773 miles this afternoon. Dick and Peyron continue to return the best speeds of the top four teams but now in a league of their own.
Their most regular pursuers, the 2004 Olympic champions on MAPFRE, have had a torrid 48 hours, not having to search for problems. Yesterday they struggled with a communication issue which meant they missed vital information. Sounding tired but resolute on this morning’s live Visio and Audio Conferences, Iker Martinez admitted they had also had a problem with a sail, but most off all it was the very variable wind and sea conditions in the mixed up trough, which had brought them most grief:
' We slowed, we accelerated but in the end we just did what we could to manage as well as we could. What was very difficult was having waves from the north and from the south. When you are in a system like that you can only do what you can do, making the best of it, but it is not good.' Said Martinez, confirming that the conditions they had endured were the most physically taxing of the race so far.
The result is that MAPFRE, after enduring this peculiar mix of high winds and lighter zones, have lost miles to their nearest rivals, compatriots Estrella Damm who were just thirty-five miles behind this afternoon. In their wake Kito de Pavant on Groupe Bel remarked that life was good on board with his co-skipper in conditions, at 46deg 57S which were looked more winter Mediterranean than south Indian Ocean summer. De Pavant had been up the mast to check a stray, trapped halyard, but gave their rig the once over.
Despite the ice-gates several duos have reported that they are on the alert for reported ice. Ribes confirmed that they are on the lookout:
'We have not seen icebergs but according to the report that we received yesterday have one in our course. Tomorrow round dawn we will have an iceberg right in our path. We will have to keep a very close eye to the radar and the water temperature. Luckily we are at the latitude 47 south where there are only five hours of night and the rest is not fully dark so you can see well.'
And in seventh place at 45 deg S, but 1200 miles west, back up the race track from Estrella Damm, Ryan Breymaier in his morning mail from Neutrogena also confirmed they have also redoubled their vigilance.
'We are passing within 20 miles of an iceberg position on our charts, and I am looking out the front every 10 minutes in the hope that I see nothing. It is nervewracking, because if there is one big one that the satellites can see, normally that means growlers, small pieces broken off the big one in a larger area. As I type we just hit 25.7 knots.
At that speed a piece of ice the size of a car would destroy the front of the boat to the point we would have to get off it and let it sink. The satellite only sees things bigger than 150 yards. If we hit that it would be like irresistible force meets (definitely) immovable object.'
The elastic which has joined sixth placed Mirabaud and Neutrogena was stretching again today as the Swiss-French duo Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret put on a speed spurt to accelerate away from their long time companions Breymaier and Boris Herrmann. The young American-German pair got close, tantalizingly close this morning. Neutrogena was tailgating just three miles behind Mirabaud this morning, but Wavre and Paret struck out at a sizzling 22.4 knots this afternoon, quickest in the fleet and had already earned another 10 miles of daylight on their pursuers. Standings at 1400hrs Monday 7th February
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 14306,7 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE at 772,6 miles to the leader
3 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 807,1 miles
4 GROUPE BEL at 915,1 miles
5 RENAULT Z.E at 1147,9 miles
6 MIRABAUD at 1668,5 miles
7 NEUTROGENA at 1682,6 miles
8 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 2298,7 miles
9 HUGO BOSS at 2384,5 miles
10 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 3169,9 miles
11 WE ARE WATER at 3341,9 miles
12 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 3549,8 miles