Barcelona World Race update.
The long stretch north, into the trades, was logically expected by both the co-skippers of Virbac-Paprec 3 and by Mapfre. The long time leaders Loick-Peyron and Jean-Pierre Dick had some confidence that they would escape first from the south Atlantic high pressure system which had snared them for more than 48 hours.
With their more westerly course, closer to the centre of the anticyclone and so in lighter winds, Spanish Olympic medallists Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez were hopeful that they could still get sufficiently close to their rivals to reach the exit of the high pressure in close touch.
Even though the odds were very much in favour of the French duo getting out first, Jean-Pierre Dick still described life in the anticyclone like being in a ‘game of roulette’, but since Wednesday night it has been Virbac-Paprec 3 which, for the moment, have collected.
Mapfre’s torment has continued through most of Thursday, making only 80 miles in the 24 hours to 1400hrs UTC this afternoon while Virbac-Paprec 3 have averaged three times their speed and now lead by 347 miles. The Spanish duo are expected to start to escape tonight, emerging into the light trade winds which have allowed the French pair an express departure.
The weather picture in the south Atlantic is looking like it will offer an equal mix of challenges and opportunities. For the leaders the light trade-winds mean a generally disorganised, broad Doldrums at the moment. And beyond that the Mediterranean very early Spring can offer every kind of sting in the tail.
But for the chasing peloton the odds improve all the time for the pack comprising Neutrogena, Mirabaud, Estrella Damm, and then – increasingly - Hugo Boss and Gaes Centros Auditivos. A low pressure system which is building off the Falklands not only opens the door to the South American coast, but provides something of a fast moving, downwind conveyor belt ride in flat water, saving many miles on the easterly route around the south Atlantic high pressure.
For Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella, expected at Cape Horn tomorrow night on Gaes Centros Auditivos, such a scenario would reprise Caffari’s Vendèe Globe where she was able to short cut and catch up miles on the ascent of the Atlantic. The race’s only female duo look set to reach Cape Horn as the first pair to have suffered no significant injury or ill-health to themselves or to their Imoca Open 60 over the 20,000 miles and 70 days of racing.
Speaking live to the Global Sports Forum, a gathering of sports administration and promotion professionals in Barcelona, debating the future avenues and developments of sport, Caffari said today:
'It’s all about managing your time and managing how you run the boat, and knowing when to back off when things are a little bit too much. The last 24-48 hours have been pretty intense for us, so actually I’m feeling quite tired now, but knowing it’s the last push to get to the corner is quite a good focus. The weather in the Atlantic will hopefully give us a bit of a break, but it is never-ending and it is quite soul-destroying that every time you think you can get a sleep you need to do a sail change. But it’s all worth it, and it’s just managing your sleep and your expectations. Last night we took it easy and that allowed us to re-catch up on some sleep a little bit.'
In Ushuaia Kito De Pavant and Seb Audigane were due start work with their shore team today to lift Groupe Bel out of the water to make a proper technical assessment of their keel problem:
'The keel was swinging longitudinally at a height of over a meter. The noise was so loud that we got the impression that we were slamming into each wave. We also have a small leak, since the ram has made a small hole in the hull. We were conscious of the danger. The watchword was safety and we had to anticipate the eventuality of capsizing. Everything was ready. The compartments were hermetically sealed and we stayed in our survival suits continuously. We were also ready to spend time in the overturned boat, if necessary.' Reported de Pavant today. Rankings at 1400hrs Thursday 10 March
1 Virbac-Paprec 3 at 4859,5 miles to finish
2 Mapfre at 347,3 miles to leader
3 Renault Z.E at 1205,3 miles to leader
4 Neutrogena at 1531,1 miles to leader
5 Mirabaud at 1657 miles to leader
6 Estrella Damm Sailing Team at 1660 miles to leader
7 Groupe Bel at 1997,7 miles to leader
8 Hugo Boss at 2380,3 miles to leader
9 Gaes Centros Auditivos at 2451,2 miles to leader
10 Forum Maritim Catala at 4402,4 miles to leader
11 We Are Water at 6558,3 miles to leader
12 Central Lechera Asturiana at 6690,8 miles to leader
ABN President Barcelona World Race website