Barcelona World Race - As second placed Mapfre passed Wellington today, the first of the BWR fleet to pass through the Cook Strait without stopping, the Spanish 2004 Olympic champions raised the bar, adding pressure on the pack which is pursuing them but most of all on the race leaders Virbac-Paprec 3 who are heading SSE into the Pacific.
Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez, the Mapfre co-skippers, came to the tough decision not to halt despite acknowledging that they considered it made logical sense to do so, that in fact they felt they would be quicker to the finish if they did, but for them their huge hearts also played a big part in their decision not to stop.
Intellectually it might have made sense to halt and return to the race course with their boat at 100%, but the duo make the point that they want to race non-stop around the world. Given that they still have the opportunity to do so, that remains their intention. Martinez said this morning :
'We did not set out to sail round the world and stop. We feel that opportunities to sail non- stop around the world might not come again; I don’t know if we will have another so we have to take advantage of this opportunity, now. It is like the Olympics. You don’t know if you will be back again, so take every opportunity when it comes and give it everything. We are just about OK; we did not count on so many extra days. We might be on diet at the end, but meantime: full speed, keep going!'
While the Mapfre duo were enjoying the deep satisfaction of not only having dealt with a running repair to replace the lost hook at the head of their keynote Solent genoa which allowed them to carry on without stopping, but also from the simple enjoyment of passing close to the beautiful landscape without needing to stop.
Tired but quietly content to know they are now just 161 miles behind Virbac-Paprec 3, instead of the 525 before Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron’s technical stop, the fact that their dream to complete a non-stop circumnavigation remains intact may be one source of happiness.
But perhaps even more so is the knowledge that they are now stripping miles out of third placed Estrella Damm and Groupe Bel who are both slowed to walking speed, around 4 to 5 knots this afternoon, struggling in light, fickle breezes to make the turn at Cape Farewell on the NE corner of the South Island. Fernandez remarked today that they expect to gain several hundred miles on their pursuers.
In the five hours to 1400hrs this afternoon UTC, even though they were racing upwind against two knots of unfavorable current, Mapfre still made another 18 miles against Estrella Damm who were covering the ground at only four knots, snared by the high pressure barring their entry to Cook Strait.
Pepe Ribes, Estrella Damm’s co-skipper was certainly confounded by the fact that the weather forecasts gave him little hope for future pleasure, but the Barcelona veteran of three Volvo Round the World Races was almost certainly not exactly enamored by the decision of their long term rivals not to stop in Wellington. Looking tired Ribes confirmed again on today’s Visio Conference that he and Alex Pella do not plan to stop in Wellington; a target also echoed today by Pachi Rivero, co-skipper of fifth placed Renault ZE Sailing Team.
Rivero and Toño Piris made a repair to their mainsail mast track yesterday which, Rivero said today, drew on their ‘Parlier spirit’ of ingenuity, but which he feels is sufficiently robust to keep them racing non-stop.
Ryan Breymaier, co-skipper of sixth placed Neutrogena, was decidedly upbeat today not only at keeping Mirabaud tucked behind them in seventh, 75 miles behind them, but looking at a relatively straightforward routing towards New Zealand and the Cook Strait.
In ninth place Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella are into what promises to be a breezy, bumpy passage across the Tasman Sea, trying to stay ahead of an active low pressure system chasing them which contains a lot of wind and very big seas. As it stands just now the female duo look to have little margin for error or downtime, but will be doubly relieved to be in shape to pass Wellington, birthplace of their Owen Clarke designed Gaes Centros Auditivos in 2007.
The girls had a difficult electrical problem which took them six hours to get to the bottom of, but were reported to making good speed in pursuit of eighth placed Hugo Boss which has had some slow spells last night and today. * Mapfre broke the longitude of Wellington at 0620hrs this morning, taking 20d 21h 25m for the passage from Cape of Good Hope, some 14 hours more than Virbac-Paprec 3. Rankings at 1400hrs Saturday 19th February
1 Virbac-Paprec 3 at 11311,6 miles to finish
2 Mapfre à miles 161,2 from the leader
3 Estrella Damm Sailing Team à 382,4 miles
4 Groupe Bel at 386,8 miles
5 Renault Z.E at 571,4 miles
6 Neutrogena at 881,6 miles
7 Mirabaud at 957,7 miles
8 Hugo Boss at 1235,5 miles
9 Gaes Centros Auditivos at 1429,1 miles
10 Forum Maritim Catala at 2896,6 miles
11 Central Lechera Asturiana at 3500,6 miles
12 We Are Water at 3879,4 miles
RTD President www.barcelonaworldrace.org