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Barcelona World Race - Groupe Bel on the charge

'Groupe-Bel - Barcelona World Race'    Barcelona World Race ©    Click Here to view large photo

Barcelona World Race - So far it looks like more straightforward, plain sailing over coming days for the pairs of Hugo Boss and Gaes Centros Auditivos and for Mirabaud and Neutrogena.

At the moment, the leaders Virbac Paprec 3 and then Mapfre and Estrella Damn are, or will be riding a low pressure east out of the Indian and into the Pacific. In time they will drop off that low with a fairly short, straightforward transition to the next low.

This second low is tracking a little further south and so allows the high pressure in to the Tasman. Initially, it sets up to the east of Australia. Overall, this still seems to set a fairly simple course all the way to the entrance to the Cook Straits for Virbac Paprec 3.

By Tuesday morning, and bear in mind again that the models are not as reliable in this particularly dynamic weather arena, the center of the high is in the middle of the Tasman, that leaves Virbac Paprec 3 running downwind to the Straits.

For the boats which then face the prospects of trying to get around the high, up to the Straits it is a conundrum, to the west it is upwind, the east downwind and still - as we have said before – the risk of the high moving east just leaves the void of light winds to be crossed to get all the way north to Cook Straits.

So does that add up to a big gain for Virbac-Paprec 3? It looks like against the likes of Groupe Bel, handicapped by lacking a big gennaker and small spi, and Renault ZE Sailing Team, their routing just now would be the more problematic. Mapfre and Estrella Damm seem just about to squeeze north.

But then, looking more long term, Virbac Paprec 3 – as it stands now – would be into headwinds for the Cook Straits and so relatively slow and then emerging into the same high, which then offers the option of a slow route downwind down the South Island coast to find the next low, or to try and get east – more directly towards Cape Horn – but this is upwind.

And there is a big danger on this ‘high’ road that you move across the Pacific trapped upwind with no sensible escape route to get back to ride the train of lows in the Pacific. So it is certainly not simple for the leaders in the long term.

And to an extent, the prospect of a slow exit from the Cook Straits may even add to the incentive – or rather effectively negate some of the down time - of making a stop in Wellington should it be required among this top group.

Meantime Virbac Paprec 3 are quickest of the top 3 this morning, back gaining nearly ten miles on Mapfre to be 454 miles ahead, Estrella Dam are also on the march at 18 knots, largely at the same speed as Mapfre, give or take half a mile. Groupe Bel is quickest in the fleet at 20.1 knots.

Neutrogena have gained back 20 miles on Mirabaud, Hugo Boss is 16 miles ahead of Gaes Centros Auditivos and Central Lechera Auditivos are now 18 miles ahead of We Are Water.

by Barcelona World Race


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4:15 PM Fri 11 Feb 2011 GMT

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