Barcelona World Race - The Indian Ocean is not giving up the leaders of the Barcelona World Race to the Tasman and Pacific without one final scrap. The final twenty-four to forty-eight hours in the Indian Ocean look set to be the toughest for Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron in first place on Virbac-Paprec 3, for Mapfre and Estrella Damm.
Forecasts for this evening, tonight and into Saturday, suggest the leading trio might see very strong Northwesterly gusts and big seas kicked up by the final big low pressure of the Indian Ocean, a vicious sting in the tail after what has proven to be a generally compliant, benign passage. The leaders had less than 300 miles of Indian Ocean this afternoon.
For Dick and Peyron there might be the relative luxury of their 452 miles lead, allowing them the option to moderate their speeds in the difficult conditions, but the battle between second placed Mapfre and Estrella Damm remains as intense as ever, with the second and third placed Spanish duos still making very, very similar average speeds.
With their hands full in the brisk conditions, the leading duo may scarcely have the opportunity to enjoy the moment, possibly late tomorrow or more probably Sunday when they pass the theoretical mid-point of the 25,000 miles course.
The leading trio is well into evolving their strategy for the Tasman passage to New Zealand and the Cook Straits which separate the North and South Islands.
This diversion out of the southern oceans and through the straits in fact adds only a further 500 miles to the direct orthodromic course, but it effectively brings with it a whole new set of challenges – the rhythm changing from ocean racing, to passage racing, to coastal racing and back down through the gears again.
And of course it is a relatively sudden and tantalizing flirtation with ‘real life’. Still, the weather models do not agree on the exact timings of a high pressure system over the Tasman which will progress east across New Zealand, but it will be a very significant blocker to the fortunes of one or some of the top half of the fleet.
The days may not exactly be dragging yet for the duos, but for sure several of the skippers have been commenting recently on some of the friends, family and occasions they are missing.
Ebullient, upbeat and positively brimming today Pachi Rivero answered questions from a local Barcelona school with great enthusiasm, on weird and wonderful fish he had seen, what makes a great sailor, what his most difficult memories were, but he also commented that what he misses most, after six weeks at sea, is his own family.
Jean Pierre Dick spoke yesterday about missing out on three months of the life of his young baby who was only four months old when he left Barcelona, and Estrella Damm Pepe Ribes saw he young son, also Pepe who was born three weeks before the race start, by video link four days ago. There were happy minutes today through for Gaes Centros Auditivos when Barcelona’s Anna Corbella spoke with her family live on the Visio-Conference for the first time, including her lovely golden retriever Piula.
Corbella was clearly delighted, while her co-skipper Dee Caffari today remained objective about Hugo Boss finally getting the better of them, stealing eighth place on the leaderboard.
She said:'We are not that worried at the moment. I mean let’s face it, if they are not that worried in these conditions when are they going to catch us. And we have a high pressure ahead and we have seen the results of a high pressure with these two boats before. They have been about one know faster than us most of the time recently, but I am pretty happy that there will be opportunities a little further down the line. They are not going to get too far ahead of us.' Standings at 1400hrs UTC Friday 11th February 2011
1 Vibrac Paprec 3 at 12964 miles to the finish
2 Mapfre at 452 miles to the leader
3 Estrella Damm Sailing Team at 521 miles
4 Groupe Bel at 806 miles
5 Renaultz.E at 1217 miles
6 Mirabaud at 1629 miles
7 Neutrogena at 1712 miles
8 Hugo Boss at 2180 miles
9 Gaes Centros Auditivos at 2189miles
10 Forum Maritim Catala at 3307 miles
11 Central Lechera Asturiana at 3561 miles
12 We Are Water at 3583 miles
RTD President www.barcelonaworldrace.org