Barcelona World Race - Not for the first time in this, and almost certainly not for the last, has the contrast in fortunes between the pacemakers and the back markers of the fleet been vast.
The only thing that Loïck Peyron and Jean-Pierre Dick seem to be struggling with on their ascent of the south Atlantic on Virbac-Paprec 3 this Sunday afternoon is deciding if their nearest rivals Mapfre are indeed following in their wake, or whether Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez will break to the west of the high pressure system.
Otherwise it is fast, easy sailing for the French duo, enjoying rising temperatures, robust spirits, and even a chance to appreciate the wildlife: ' We have a good Atlantic rhythm: sleep, work, freeze dried, sleep…Just now we are both on deck working when we can. And after two months together, then things just happen naturally.
We saw some funny dolphins yesterday, black and white. Loïck saw a seal with beautiful moustache.' Reported Dick this afternoon.
In Wellington, New Zealand, Juan Merediz and Fran Palacio are desperately trying to convert their huge motivation and desire to finish their Barcelona World Race into a solid, workable plan: a means and methodology to successfully re-join the two broken halves of the mast they broke in the Tasman.
In fact their mandatory 48 hours stop will expire tonight with little real progress. Saturday was spent with Southern Spars assessing the damage to their Central Lechera Asturiana rig and many others on board looking at their other jobs and problems. And Sunday has been equally frustrating with strong gales not even allowing them the chance to lift out the remaining upright section.
Juan Merediz, joined by phone from Wellington today said: 'We are very motivated. But on a technical level there are many complications and it is nearly impossible, but that is nearly impossible so there is still some possibility. The major problem is that, and there are many things broken, we are lacking a Genoa. And if we want to stay in the race we must satisfy the Imoca measurement rules. It was already complicated in Barcelona to change the rig and so the logical thing is to be able to join the two pieces.'
First priority today is rest and recuperation for Jaume Mumbrú and Cali Sanmartí on We Are Water. They had to abort their entrance in to the Cook Strait in rising winds, big breaking seas after suffering further sail problems.
After having seemingly made the clear decision that they would be fighting on and not stopping in Wellington, the duo were exhausted and at a low ebb when they finally managed to take refuge in a sheltered area of D’Urville Island, to the west side of the entrance to the Cook Strait. As long as they do not accept outside assistance they may stay on the mooring they have found there and leave in less than 48 hours, to return to the race track. But by all accounts some of their repairs which they made since being knocked down in the Tasman last week, have been negated and the duo anticipate making enough running repairs to get the boat moving safely again.
Mumbrú said: 'All the repairs that we had been doing the last few days got ruined in a few hours in the huge, boat breaking waves. The door closed in our faces. When the sea does not want you to pass through, you cannot pass, there is no way of getting around it. We are both OK and We Are Water though somewhat hurt, is good too. '
For both teams there is the backdrop that the Autumn weather patterns in the southern oceans are already being reported by teams, and so time is of the essence for both We Are Water and Central Lechera Asturiana.
Pachi Rivero and Toño Piris have been accelerating rapidly towards Cape Horn which the third placed duo should pass Monday evening. As the leading duo engage with their anticyclone in front of them, Rivero and Piris have been fastest in the fleet this afternoon making 18.1 kts and an average VMG of 18.7kts.
French solo-skipper Thomas Coville passed within an estimated three miles of Estrella Damm today, making clear visual contact with the Imoca Open 60. Rankings at 1400hrs Sunday Seventh March 2011:
1 Virbac-Paprec 3 at 5785 miles to finish
2 Mapfre 264 miles from the leader
3 Renault Z.E at 1589 miles
4 Neutrogena at 1738 miles
5 Groupe Bel at 1878 miles
6 Mirabaud at 1938 miles
7 Estrella Damm Sailing Team at 2015 miles
8 Hugo Boss at 2451 miles
9 Gaes Centros Auditivos at 2771 miles
10 Forum Maritim Catala at 4640 miles
11 Central Lechera Asturiana at 5765 miles
12 We Are Water at 5817 miles
RTD President Barcelona World Race Website