Barcelona World Race - It’s decision-making time for the boats at the front of the BWR fleet. With the Indian Ocean safely navigated for the front-runners, the Cook Strait could prove more than just a spectacular backdrop to the next waypoint, but an opportunity for further position changes.
For race leaders Virbac-Paprec 3, the initial decisions on how to approach the waypoint have largely been made. Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron (FRA) opted for a northerly route yesterday which has today set them on a direct course to the Straits between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
Although conditions look likely to become trickier as they approach the coast, for now the duo continue at thirteen to fourteen knot averages, with Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron (FRA) expected to reach Cook Strait some time on Wednesday mid-morning.
'It looks like we still have 365 miles until the entrance of Cook Strait. We will take at least twenty four hours to get there and as we close in against the prevailing winds things will get a little complicated, 'explained Peyron in today’s video conference.
Tactically, the biggest dilemmas are for Mapfre in second and Estrella Damm in third. With a high pressure system spreading across the Tasman Sea, the decision of whether to go north or south of it, and when to go, will be critical for both. Finding themselves in the center will obviously involve a period of light winds, although if the high is tracking east quickly enough that pain could be short lived.
Erring to the south-east could bring later pain with some a beat up the coast of New Zealand, while taking a more north-westerly route would depend on critical timing to catch new breeze from the west.
Iker Martinez (ESP) joked that maybe Mapfre should ask online race followers for their advice, 'Ask the internet fans what they think we should do… 'Should we go East or head upwards? I’m sure they’ll know what to do! We could ask 100 of them and they will go with the majority!' Straight line speed
Groupe Bel, 200 miles behind Estrella Damm in fourth place, looks set to follow Virbac-Paprec 3’s line as they crossed into the Pacific this afternoon. And with the leading group potentially slowing, there remain opportunities for mileage gains for the boats behind.
Renault Z.E. in seventh has earned their crown as fastest boat on the course for the second successive five-hourly update, hitting 17.1 knots at 1500hrs today - the same pace as Gaes Centros Auditivos in ninth, whose all-female crew shared a Valentine’s Day message with the fleet today. One place ahead, Hugo Boss retained the fastest averages of the past twenty-four hours, covering over 380 miles.
Mirabaud and Neutrogena remain locked in battle for sixth, with Boris Herrmann (GER) and Ryan Breymaier (USA) halving the Swiss skipper’s advantage over the past twenty-four hours to just fourteen miles.
Meanwhile for the rear group another high pressure system is presenting further problems as it stretches across the path of thirteenth placed Central Lechera Asturiana, while We Are Water has headed north in a bid to find better long-term pressure. Forum Maritim Catala in tenth were this afternoon just a whisker away from the Amsterdam ice gate. Halfway still to go
In the 2007 edition of the Barcelona World Race, winners Virbac Paprec 2 led the fleet through the Cook Strait after 44 days and 32 minutes of racing. With 45 long days at sea already under their belts, in today’s special video conference with Pere Alcober, president of the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (FNOB) the skippers reflected on the need to keep their boats together.
Pepe Ribes revealed that Estrella Damm’s hydro generators had been causing problems, while Loick Peyron spoke of the need to be like ‘MacGyver’, a television character who could affect repairs from unlikely items, suggesting that even Virbac Paprec 3 has been in need of some minor adjustments.
Kito de Pavant (FRA), who announced a scheduled stop for Groupe Bel to repair sail damage, has also be planning to make the most of the forty-eight pit-stop, reporting: 'It will also be an opportunity to carry out a full check-up, and do some small jobs, particularly the hydro generator’s bracket which is in a fairly bad way. We are updating the ‘job list’.' Rankings at 1400hrs UTC Monday 14th February
1 Virbac-Paprec 3 at 11864 miles to finish
2 Mapfre at 497 miles to leader
3 Estrella Damm Sailing Team at 666 miles
4 Groupe Bel at 870 miles
5 Renaultz.E at 1425 miles
6 Mirabaud at 1754 miles
7 Neutrogena at 1768 miles
8 Hugo Boss at 2002 miles
9 Gaes Centros Auditivos at 2114 miles
10 Forum Maritim Catala at 3784 miles
11 Central Lechera Asturiana at 4080 miles
12 We Are Water at 4217 miles
RTD President www.barcelonaworldrace.org