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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Barcelona World Race - What The Sailors Had To Say

Wouter Verbraak (NED) Hugo Boss:
© Hugo Boss
"The sun is out, it is warm and it is champagne sailing, except that we forgot to pick up the champagne in the Falklands, but the trade winds are very light, between 10 and 13 knots, whereas we expected more like 20kts, we are along the Brazil coast, but that is how it is, we just try to squeeze every tenth of a knot out of the boat and try to get more speed up towards the Doldrums."

Andy Meiklejohn (NZL) Hugo Boss: 
© Hugo Boss
"We work hard at trying to keep the boat and ourselves at 100%, as you know we made some repairs in the Falklands.

"As kids we all looked up to Sir Peter Blake. That’s how it was. We followed his races around the world and his interactions with the public and the media, and pioneered a lot of the interaction with the public, back in the 1980’s and Peter Blake used to take all the boats Ceramco, Lion New Zealand, Steinlager on tour once they were built and sail them round all the ports and so everyone could go and have a look. Then Grant Dalton followed that, so there has always been that scene. 

"For sure there is the culture now and there are a lot of New Zealanders do it, you are bound to know someone who is getting to the top of the tree, so in that way I suppose it is easier, but it is also a lot of people doing it, and a lot of competition for spots, and so what has probably made it a little easier in the rule promoting youngsters on the Volvo Ocean Race, that is good for brining on some of the younger guys, helped on by some of the older, more experienced guys than maybe 10 years ago.

"We have been talking a lot during about things we have done, and we have learned a lot since when we started racing. For a start when you are racing you always push harder (than on the miles he did with Alex preparing), and when you are racing when sail combinations get slow you change quicker, but we have mixed up the combinations at the front (headsails) quite a lot. There is culture that’s says that you have to put up as much sail and get as much power as possible, and, with having had to sail for so long with one reef in the main, then we have found that is not always right. We have learned a few tricks which we might not normally have learned."

Iker Martinez (ESP)MAPFRE: 
© MAPFRE
“If the weather files are right we could be arriving at Gibraltar on April 2nd. We have 400 miles to get there and so in two days we could be there. There will be a zone with some light winds. We really just want to get there. Ninety days is a long time to have left and still be sailing. When you are this close to the finish all you want is to get to the finish quickly. At this stage it is almost impossible to consider catching those in front and the others are a good bit behind. So it is a situation which you have a lot to lose and have to gain an awful lot. But you have to remember Roland Jourdain in the Vendée Globe where he was so nearly there and still had to stop.”

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) Virbac-Paprec 3:
© Virbac Paprec 3
“Physically we are well. We have a good amount of sleep. The end of this race is proving to be something of a punishment. It has slammed for three days without stopping. And speaking with Loïck we are sure we have never done as much constant upwind sailing. When we get there we will have done 15 days without sailing with the sheets eased. And that is a bit painful because these boats are not really designed for upwind.”

Barcelona World Race Media

Leaving the Atlantic for the Mediterranean - Barcelona World Race Update

  • Virbac-Paprec 3 at Gibraltar tonight
  • We Are Water set to return after technical stop in Ushuaia
  • 90 Days racing

Central Lechera Asturiana leaving Wellington © Mike Clare / DPPI / Barcelona World Race
Across his two combined Barcelona World Races French skipper Jean Pierre Dick has only ever passed the magnificent Pillars of Hercules – the 426 metres Rock of Gibraltar to the north and Morocco’s 851 metre high Jebel Musa to the south, the iconic rock monoliths which guard the narrow gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean in one position. First. 

Eighty seven days ago on Monday January 3rd, Dick and Loïck Peyron lead the 14 boat fleet second edition of the Barcelona World Race out into the Atlantic on the blue hulled Virbac-Paprec 3. Tonight the French duo will pass back through the magnificent gates with a comfortable lead. The duo passed out into the Atlantic not knowing what their first circumnavigation together would hold for them, their minds collectively and individually a churning mix of anticipation, focus, uncertainty and anticipation.
© We Are Water
Myth has it that the giant Atlas was given the task of supporting the weight of the World at the Pillars of Hercules, it would be fair to say Dick and Peyron will be unburdened by many of their concerns and fears once finally back into the same sea as the finish line.

As they pass back into the Mediterranean tonight, they will have earned many of their answers already, some gained weeks ago, some more recently but Peyron and Dick still have the challenge of a final 550 miles: first and foremost the busy shipping traffic funnelling through the narrow gap and awkward seas in the Strait, then the Alboran Sea and ahead of that, and the as yet undefined but almost certainly fickle breezes between the Balearics and Barcelona.
© Renault Z.E.
Virbac-Paprec 3 is expected to pass the longitude 5 deg 37 W at around 0300hrs GMT Friday morning, with up to 35 knots of Levante wind and difficult, short, steep choppy seas kicked up by the constant current produced by the Atlantic refilling the evaporating Mediterranean.

If nothing else, the duo have endured a new upwind marathon since the Equator, Dick confirming today to a Paris Visio-Conference that neither he nor his vastly experience co-skipper have ever spent as long on one upwind stretch. And their final tacks off the Moroccan coast this afternoon are certainly not going to be their last together, with some weather models showing windward sailing all the way to the finish line! Current ETA still has Virbac-Paprec 3 finishing Monday morning.

Dick and Peyron have a lead of 284 miles this afternoon, enough to ensure that they do not need to press the foot unnecessarily hard on the accelerator. MAPFRE’s Iker Martinez said today that they expect to be passing Gibraltar on Saturday with the prospect a reaching and downwind approach

“It seems like the wind will drop off there. Being honest we would rather gybe and fight a bit to get through than have strong winds against us. After the Strait and until “Cabo de Gata” there are some miles than can be really painful if there is no wind.

For us now it is the feeling of being near the finish which dominates rather than feeling like the race is too long. It doesn’t matter if the race is 20, 50 or 90 days long… The thing is that as much as the finish line is closer, you think more and more about the finish.” Said Martinez this afternoon.
© Hugo Boss
For the Hugo Boss duo Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak, now getting their first taste of champagne sailing in the trade winds off the Brazilian coast, the regular conditions were a chance to reflect on the formative influences which have been instrumental in their individual passages into round the world racing. Verbraak paid a warm tribute to his father who is celebrating his 65th birthday, who instilled first principles into the young Wouter which hold equal value today, while Meiklejohn, the first Kiwi to take on the Barcelona World Race spoke of being entranced from an early age by the adventures of Sir Peter Blake:

“As kids we all looked up to Sir Peter Blake. That’s how it was. We followed his races around the world and his interactions with the public and the media, and pioneered a lot of the interaction with the public, back in the 1980’s and Peter Blake used to take all the boats Ceramco, Lion New Zealand, Steinlager on tour once they were built and sail them round all the ports and so everyone could go and have a look. Then Grant Dalton followed that, so there has always been that scene.”
© Central Lechera Asturiana leaving Auckland
With their boom and lazy jacks repaired We Are Water’s Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti are reported to be awaiting gale force winds to abate enough to let them out of Ushuaia, while Central Lechera Asturiana have made nearly 200 miles since leaving Wellington last night after repairing their mast.
© We Are Water

Standings of Thursday 31st March at 1400hrs UTC

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 620 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE + 284 miles to leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at + 1106 miles to leader
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at + 1287 miles to leader
5 NEUTROGENA at + 1317 miles to leader
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at + 1900 miles to leader
7 HUGO BOSS at + 3252 miles to leader
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at + 3765 miles to leader
9 WE ARE WATER at + 6237 miles to leader
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at + 10774 miles to leader
RTD FONCIA
RTD PRESIDENT
RTD GROUPE BEL
RTD MIRABAUD

Barcelona World Race Media

505 Worlds Hamilton Island

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

505 Worlds - Hamilton Island

What The Skippers Said Today - Barcelona World Race

Alex Pella (ESP) Estrella Damm:
© Estrella Damm
“We are still sailing upwind but a little bit more eased, cracked a bit making north. The wind is very stable. In the next 24 to 48 hours there will be a change. First we have a transition zone with some lighter winds, then some SW’ly veering to the N. Let us see how Renault Z.E goes but for now they are better positioned than us. For sure the further north you are at the moment, the better. That is what we decided is best for getting to Gibraltar. We think that Renault Z.E has made the best choice and ourselves too. There was not much to hide, we talked about using ghost mode but in the end it was not left or right, there was only one way to go and we have to go there as fast as possible and let the others do what they can.

"We’ll see what happens between now and the Strait and then in the Mediterranean. There should be the accordion effect in the Strait but really it is impossible to know because we are still about eight days from that. Until then it will be difficult to catch up. But otherwise everything is going well, the boat is all good, it is getting colder again, we have thicker clothes on again and we have food to spare, and Pepe seems to have enough painkillers for his knee until the finish.”

Iker Martinez (ESP) MAPFRE:
ker Martinez onboard MAPFRE © María Muiña
“Yesterday was a bit of a complicated day. We took the decision to go between La Palma and La Gomera which seemed like a good option. We thought we could use a bit of the lee to make a fix a problem with sail and the solent stay, but it got a bit out of hand, there were a lot of waves and we had gusts of 30 knots, we ended up having to run downwind to change to the smaller headsail, then we had 40 knots and it all got a bit messy. We managed to get it all in order, but we probably lost about three hours of sailing. It was a day with a lot going on, but in the end we did not break anything else. The stay we fixed works not bad, we were a bit unlucky and we broke a bit of the furler, so we swapped about a bit, changed the cables and it is OK, it works. We can use the Solent which is important.

"We are pretty tired with the food situation, physically this is an ultramarathon. Some days we have it when we are really tired, but it is not one of our biggest worries. I think we are all now thinking about the finish, not too long ago we weren’t but now we are.

"We try to sleep as much as we can to keep energy so that we don’t make mistakes, and if they do like yesterday then we have the energy to deal with them and keep going. It is more than 10 years that we have been physically training. Training for the Olympics in China was pretty extreme, so I think that physically we were in good shape for this race, but I think we pushed very hard.

"We are here in this second place because of our physical preparation and ability to push, not because of our experience. Fourteen months ago we did not even have an IMOCA Open 60 and had never even sailed on of these before.”

Ryan Breymaier (USA) Neutrogena: 
© Team Neutrogena
“They (Estrella Damm and Renault Z.E) are both going quite fast at the moment, but I am not sure how well that is going to work for them because that ridge goes back north and I think that it is going to be quite tricky for them. We have been waiting, hoping for some sort of tactical opportunity just to finish quicker, not even so much thinking we can get by them, just to finish with some food less. So theirs seemed like an option but the ridge seems to move back and forth a lot and so that makes it a much more difficult to take that option.”

Barcelona World Race Media

Finish Line Under 800 Miles Away for Leaders in Barcelona World Race

  • Virbac-Paprec 3 under 800 miles to finish, upwind Equator to Murcia?
  • MAPFRE draw on reserves
  • We Are Water boom repairs nearly concluded
© Virbac-Paprec 3
The Finish. As time ticks away closer to the first finish of this Barcelona World Race, the closing proximity to the final line, be it a few days or two weeks away, means that the release after 89 days of racing is weighing heavily on the minds of many of the skippers now nearing the home strait, be that in actual fact, or more metaphorically.

Two of the skippers who were joined by Visio-Conference today were showing the effects of their three months of endeavour, tired and drawn, and admitted to wanting as much to get their respective first IMOCA Open 60 circumnavigations safely completed as to deliver their results.

For Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron, ETA Gibraltar around midnight Thursday, theirs has been a day of precision manouvers off the Moroccan coast, getting to within 800 meters of the beach at one point early this morning. But it still seems like it will be at least offshore of Murcia before they may have some relief from their interminable upwind passage since the Equator. The final miles from there look light and unpredictable.
Iker Martinez onboard MAPFRE © María Muiña
For Iker Martinez on MAPFRE it was a chance to explain their slightly problematic passage through between La Gomera and La Palma. The Spanish Olympic champion confirmed that part of the reason for their routing was to take brief advantage of La Palma’s lee to effect what should have been a 20 minutes repair, but the combination of unexpected 30 and then 40 knots gusts and some unpleasant seas meant this short repair interlude turned into three hours of hard labour which cost them an extra 45 miles on leaders Jean-Pierre Dick andLoïck Peyron.

Martinez explained how that their 10 years plus of Olympic strength and conditioning training for the 49er has been a key factor in being able to drive their MAPFRE as hard and consistently as they have. And now, low on food rations, it is clear the double Olympic medallists are using some of that nutritional experience to manage their limited body refuelling, maximising sleep to just keep going to the finish line. He said, in fact, given their pre-race experience, second for them would be seen as much as a victory.

Martinez explained: “ We are pretty tired with the food situation, physically this is an ultramarathon. Some days we have it when we are really tired, but it is not one of our biggest worries. I think we are all now thinking about the finish, not too long ago we weren’t but now we are.

"We try to sleep as much as we can to keep energy so that we don’t make mistakes, and if they do like yesterday then we have the energy to deal with them and keep going.

"It is more than 10 years that we have been physically training. Training for the Olympics in China was pretty extreme, so I think that physically we were in good shape for this race, but I think we pushed very hard.

"We are here in this second place because of our physical preparation and ability to push, not because of our experience. Fourteen months ago we did not even have an IMOCA Open 60 and had never even sailed on of these before.”
Renault ZE ©
Behind them the situation is opening up as the Azores High pressure blockade of the Straits of Gibraltar opens progressively throwing open new options to Renault ZE Sailing Team and Estrella Damm to sprint north and try to breach the high pressure ridge, perhaps for some brief SW’ly breezes but to enjoy the prospect of a more dependable N’ly and NE’ly breezes which would allow them a more direct layline to Gibraltar.

The predicted temporary compression between third placed Renault ZE, slowed slightly now, and Estrella Damm, is becoming evident – Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes gaining 12 miles this afternoon – but the direct northerly option does not seem to be offered as freely to Neutrogena. Ryan Breymaier said:
© Estrella Damm
“They (Estrella Damm and Renault Z.E) are both going quite fast at the moment, but I am not sure how well that is going to work for them because that ridge goes back north and I think that it is going to be quite tricky for them. We have been waiting, hoping for some sort of tactical opportunity just to finish quicker, not even so much thinking we can get by them, just to finish with some food less. So theirs seemed like an option but the ridge seems to move back and forth a lot and so that makes it a much more difficult to take that option.”

Under the leadership of their chief technician Stan, Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti have been making excellent progress with their boom repair in Ushuaia for their We Are Water. The boom has been successfully sleeved with initial internal lamination, but final lamination has to be completed. They can leave after 1555hrs UTC Thursday 31st but it is unclear as yet if the duo will be completely ready for that time, but it is believed they will be close.

Standings of Wednesday 30th March at 1400hrs UTC

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 796 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE + 311 miles to leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at + 1142miles to leader
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at + 1289 miles to leader
5 NEUTROGENA at + 1313 miles to leader
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at + 1905 miles to leader
7 HUGO BOSS at + 3327 miles to leader
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at + 3802 miles to leader
9 WE ARE WATER at + 6060 miles to leader
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at + 10753 miles to leader
RTD FONCIA
RTD PRESIDENT
RTD GROUPE BEL
RTD MIRABAUD

Barcelona World Race Media

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today's Skippers Quotes - Barcelona World Race

Antonio Piris (ESP) Renault ZE Sailing Team:
© Renault Z.E. Sailing Team
“We have the main reefed and Solent and the boat is making good speed which is important. We don’t know when we will go to the east, tacking or maybe we will do something different. We see there is the option of going more north west and making a bigger curve which would be more effective and save us some tacks.

"As far as ghost mode goes we don’t really have a big interest in it, for us we thought about it but kind of figure that if we go for it then the others would follow suit, and for us just now it is more important to see those who are chasing us, unless of course Estrella Damm did it first. And we don’t have much left to the Canaries and you have to use it before then.

"You do know all the noises that the boat makes by now, and yes, some noises change but there is nothing that really worries us. All the problems we have had we have managed to deal with ourselves. Pachi knows the boat so well and what I have in boatbuilding skills we have managed to sort out, so now we are hoping we can get the dividend for all of these months of work. Our ETA for Gibraltar? I think 4th April is early, but it depends, if we get the more northerly wind early then we might get there quicker."

Alex Pella (ESP) Estrella Damm:
Alex Pella © Estrella Damm
"They have a pretty good advantage ahead, but we do try to keep an eye on the boats' roundings, but mostly Renault which would be the next boat we try and pass. But at the moment we are going upwind and we know that they are faster than us and they have a significant lead. It will be difficult to pass them but we are never giving up hope. We’ll keep pushing and it makes the race more exciting.

"According to the forecast we think it will be hard upwind to the Strait and so we have cracked the sails a little bit, the wind was from 40-50 degrees, now it is more like 70-80 degrees. And the boat is starting to feel a bit tired so we really don’t want to push it too hard. Noises change on the boat and sometimes you talk about new ones. And if you feel something is not normal then we especially discuss it.

"The new boats always evolve and are expected to go quicker and of course JP and Loïck have a lot of experience between them, and that covers materials, sails and going fast. But the boat is very quick and has great potential. Even with their two stops they did not really lose time, but when you do a race like this with a new boat, often you have problems with the equipment and the problems are reliability, as happened for Foncia, but not so much for them. But in general it is amazing to see how they sail."

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) Virbac Paprec 3: 
© Virbac Paprec 3
“It is quite rough with a short sea and so we tried to get thorugh this gale in good shape. We need to be in this area and get through it because at this level of racing you can't avoid it, there is a big advantage in getting to the Moroccan coast. We will see at up to 40 knots of wind, the objective is just to get through. We have checked everything and will take in the reefs but it is stressing. We are usually inside as much as we can because there is a lot of water across the deck. The last time in Gibraltar it was windy too and it is always impressive between the cargo ships and you really need to always pay attention in both directions. But we are feeling a bit vulnerable at this stage, and so you have to always be aware of the dangers of the course. And one of the sayings of the sailor, it will be finished when we finish.

"We can’t even predict the ETA even with the best files. But on the night of the 31st we should pass Gibraltar and then up the Mediterranean is a bit fuzzy. We can go fast until then but probably finish between the 3rd and 5th April. We are in good shape physically.

"We are keen to be finished, and look forward to it. We like being at sea, but we will be glad to have the comforts of dry land. Three months of camping has its limits. When I get back my son will be seven months. And it will be interesting. I have had photographs and he does not look like he did. I don’t know how he will react. He has not seen me for three months. It is something which will happen of course, but I am a little nervous of how he will react.”

Barcelona World Race Media

Just One More Blast for Barcelona World Race Leaders

  • Virbac-Paprec 3 have one last Atlantic gale before Gibraltar
  • MAPFRE slowed in Canaries
  • Renault ZE Sailing Team given strategic option
  • We Are Water nearly in Ushuaia
Jaume Mumbrú and Cali Sanmartí at Cape Horn © We Are Water
Sounding slightly anxious this morning Jean-Pierre Dick admitted that he and Loïck Peyron have one last blast of strong winds and agitated seas to pass through before the challenges of Gibraltar, where the 2007-8 Barcelona World Race winning skipper confirms that he expects to pass during the night of Thursday 31st March to Friday 1st April. He is leaving nothing to chance, and will be remaining extra vigilant through the spell of strong winds which are set to top 40 knots, Virbac-Paprec 3 closing directly towards Essaouira on the Moroccan coast.
MAPFRE © 
Today Dick and Peyron passed under the 1000 miles to the finish mark, but with the boat slamming in the short seas, and the winds set to build, the French duo were in conservation mode, perhaps paying little heed to the fact that their lead to MAPFRE increased to over 310 miles this afternoon while the Spanish duo Iker Martinez andXabi Fernandez were slowed as they approached the Canary Islands, setting up to pass to the south of La Palma, but losing speed in the shifty, more unsettled breezes. MAPFRE average this afternoon had dropped to 5.4 knots compared with Virbac-Paprec 3 just under 10 knots.
Hugo Boss ©
While Dick and Peyron were getting to grips with the prospect of their final gale, their 24 hours distance record set on January 22nd was ratified by the WSSRC at 506.33 miles. Jean-Pierre sounds his note of anxiety and caution:

“We are a bit anxious. We feel a bit vulnerable and the seas let you know that, but these are the dangers of the course, and so we lift the pressure a little and try not to break anything at this stage.”

For both of the leaders the wind prospects still show headwinds all the way through the Straits of Gibraltar, with a possible reprise of the strong Easterly Levante wind which slowed Paprec-Virbac 2 en route to triumph in February 2008.
Estrella Damm ©
The all-Spanish duel for third heats up with a sole strategic option falling to Renault Z.E Sailing Team’s Pachi Rivero and Toño Piris. For them there is a chance to cross the ridge of high pressure to get to more favourable NW and Northerly winds which are expected to develop but their gamble is how light the winds in the ridge would actually be. Alternatively they choose to stay east and protect their position, staying where they can stay in charge of Estrella Damm, following the classic tactic of keeping between the opposition and the finish. So do Renault Z.E Sailing Team twist, and push north, or stick? And risk losing some of their 160 miles cushion to their rivals Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella.

"They have a pretty good advantage ahead, but we do try to keep an eye on the boats round is, but mostly Renault which would be the next boat we try and pass. But at the moment we are going upwind and we know that they are faster than us and they have a significant lead. It will be difficult to pass them but we are never giving up hope. We’ll keep pushing and it makes the race more exciting.” said Pella today.
Cali Sanmartí at Cape Horn © We Are Water
Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti were very close to Ushuaia on We Are Water, preparing for their technical stop to repair their boom which they broke on March 25.

Standings of Tuesday 29th March at 1400hrs

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 986 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE + 313 miles to leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at + 1115 miles to leader
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at + 1275 miles to leader
5 NEUTROGENA at + 1309 miles to leader
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at + 1867 miles to leader
7 HUGO BOSS at + 3302 miles to leader
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at + 3925 miles to leader
9 WE ARE WATER at 5865 miles to leader
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at + 10564 miles to leader
RTD FONCIA
RTD PRESIDENT
RTD GROUPE BEL
RTD MIRABAUD

Barcelona World Race Media

America's Cup 34 Entry Deadline Looms

Copyright C Chris Cameron/ETNZ
China is the latest country to throw their hat into the AC34 ring as the March 31 deadline draws near for teams to lodge their participation deposits. Is this the mysterious private team that was previously mentioned? It appears not.
Copyright C Chris Cameron/ETNZ
The deadline for the first entry period is now just three days away, March 31, and America’s Cup Event Authority has accepted Team China as the eighth challenger. This brings the total number of teams for the 34th America’s Cup to ten. This includes the defender ORACLE Racing and challengers Mascalzone Latino (Challenger of Record), Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand, Aleph Racing, Energy Team, Team Australia, Team China plus the two still-private challenges.

Only two additional challengers are expected before the March 31 close off  however a late entry period will extend through to the end of April.

Lulu Roseman

What The Skippers Said: Barcelona World Race

Dee Caffari (GBR) Gaes Centros Auditivos:
Gaes Centros Auditivos ©
“I think that’s my tenth equator. It is outrageous when I think about it. I feel very lucky because some people do it once in a lifetime. It is frustrating in a way thought because we have had really good weather, we have made gains but had the boat been at 100% I am confident I would have been a couple of hundred miles up the course, closer to the boats in front, so it is a little frustrating but we all have got issues, including the keel on Neutrogena for example, but we have done the repair, we still have breeze and have not stopped, we have not stopped, so we are in the right place and we are heading home. I feel positive.

"It was alright. The first repair I did on the outside of the tank, which we thought would be sufficient did not really take very well, and Joff (Brown, boat captain) told us we were moving too much and that the flexing of the hull ring frame was too much so the resin did not take and have a chance to cure, so we went for kill or cure, and we have gone inside the bow tank and so I had two jobs to don’t, and that is why we really slowed down to reduce the movement. The worst job was doing all the sanding, preparing the surfaces, there was carbon dust everywhere which was horrible in this heat.

"We have given it 48 hours, doing 24 hours very slowly and sailed really easily for another 24 hours and as Joff said that is as good as it is going to get. So now we need to keep an eye on it. The worst thing for it is, of course, upwind on starboard tack, which is what we have for the next week to ten days. We will have to be quite careful and sail for the sea state, and try not to slam too much. We are in right hemisphere, we are on countdown and it is all more positive now.”

Andy Meiklejohn (NZL) and Wouter Verbraak (NED) Hugo Boss:
Hugo Boss ©
“Boots are off, retired, and shoes are on. That means the end of the south and the cold southerlies, and we are making the transition into the warmer trade winds off the Brazil coast. It has been an amazing relief to get into warmer climates, the fascinating fact is that everything starts to grow again, your nails, your hair, after six weeks in the southern ocean everything starts growing, so it looks like the body finally has some energy again for more than just looking after itself. I don’t know how the first bike ride is going to feel, but for sure I want to do a triathlon this summer I will need to put in some solid hours on the bike.

"Wouter normally does the bow when we do manoeuvres and so he gets to walk further than I do each day, so I am probably in worse shape than him.

"The upper body gets a good work out all the time, grinding and lifting sails and so on, but that side of it returns pretty quickly but you don’t walk more than 60 feet a day, so there is not a lot of exercise going on. We have a list of ideas or things which we think to help Alex and that is one of them (Cammas bicycle winch). At this stage we just do all we can to keep some air going through the boat.

"I think a little more comfort is always helpful, but after 85 days we are pretty used to what we see, we would get a shock if we got on another boat.

"It is an exciting summer for both of us, with the IMOCA 60’s on the Europa Race, with the Fastnet, Transtlantic races at the start of the summer and the end of the summer, there is J Class regatta in Newport, a lot of exciting events on the calendar, and the Volvo Ocean Race, we will be looking at our calendars and seeing if anyone is still phoning us up for work.

"We have had an amazing sleigh ride since the Falklands, now we have to make the transition into the Trade Winds, unfortunately the Trade Winds in front of us are pretty weak, so there is quite a big transition are we have to go through, at the moment we have 9 knots, and we expect to have quite light winds for the next two to three days to get to trades and make way to the Doldrums.”

Barcelona World Race Update - A Sense of Deja Vu

C Copyright Estrella Damm
  • Virbac-Paprec 3 upwind past the Canaries, possibly Gibraltar Thursday night.
  • GAES Centros Auditivos sixth across the Equator.
  • We Are Water hoping to pass Cape Horn this evening.
  • Central Lechera Asturiana on hold in Wellington
Hugo Boss © Gustav Morin
The routing may be slower and slightly more frustrating than when he was off the Azores counting down the miles to victory in 2008, but Jean-Pierre Dick is hoping the net result will be the same, as the French skipper, along with Loïck Peyron remains firmly in control of the second edition of the Barcelona World Race.

With just over 1200 miles to the finish, this afternoon the lead of Virbac-Paprec 3 is computed to be 267 miles over Spanish rivals MAPFRE.
Hugo Boss © 
On a continued long beat which is currently almost devoid of tactical opportunities, Dick and Peyron’s confidence must grow with each mile towards the finish, but both know very well the pitfalls and slowdowns which can happen in the fickle Spring winds of the Mediterranean, especially overnight. And memories of the problematic exits from the Straits of Gibraltar 84 days ago are not exactly dead and buried.

Three years ago in the first edition of the Barcelona World Race Dick had Ireland’s Damian Foxall at his side and on the 87th day of racing on Paprec-Virbac 2 they were sailing on an almost direct easterly course at 14-15 knots of boat speed, having passed to the west of the Azores high and heading directly for Gibraltar which they passed on Day 90.

This time it is an uphill struggle, climbing past the Canaries today toward the Moroccan coast which they will scale this week, expecting to pass Gibraltar Thursday night, on the night of Day 91. In 2008 Dick had a lead of 678 miles over Hugo Boss 2, with Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret third at 1507 miles behind the leader.

And in third place in today’s race it is the Barcelona World Race’s only remaining ‘second-timer’ Pachi Rivero, racing with Toño Piris. On Renault Z.E Sailing Team, the former Gitana 80, they are still holding off the 2007-8 race winning former Paprec-Virbac 2, now Estrella Damm. Rivero and Piris have nicely strengthened their hand by another five miles today to 160 miles.
Gaes Centros Auditivos © 
Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella passed the Equator this morning at between 0930hrs and 0945hrs UTC, ready to celebrate not just for their return into their ‘home’ hemisphere, but because they have been blessed with favourable 10-12 knots of easterly breezes for their ‘Doldrums’ so far, and because they have also completed their composite repair to the forward ballast tank.

“The first repair I did on the outside of the tank, which we thought would be sufficient did not really take very well. Joff (Brown, boat captain) told us we were moving too much and that the flexing of the hull ring frame was too much so the resin did not take and have a chance to cure, so we went for kill or cure, and we have gone inside the bow tank. So I had two jobs to do (the repair and close the tank again) and that is why we really slowed down to reduce the movement. The worst job was doing all the sanding, preparing the surfaces, there was carbon dust everywhere which was horrible in this heat," Caffari said.
Gaes Centros Auditivos © 
We have given it 48 hours, doing 24 hours very slowly and sailed really easily for another 24 hours and as Joff said that is as good as it is going to get.”

After a difficult 24 hours is very big and confused seas during which they were largely unable to get upwind into the 40 knots NNE’ly winds due to their lack of mainsail and the fact that the steep waves were coming at them side-on, Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti had got to within 35 miles of passing the longitude of Cape Horn onWe Are Water, finally making 11 knots after the winds had clocked to a more favourable NW’ly direction.
Central Lechera Asturian© 
Central Lechera Asturiana have remained on hold in Wellington due to an adverse weather forecast, partly to see how Tropical Storm Bune develops.

Standings of Monday 28th March at 1400hrs UTC

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 1211 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE + 267 miles to leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at + 1069 miles to leader
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at + 1229 miles to leader
5 NEUTROGENA at + 1269 miles to leader
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at + 1798 miles to leader
7 HUGO BOSS at + 3286 miles to leader
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at + 4497 miles to leader
9 WE ARE WATER at + 5126 miles to leader
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at + 10339 miles to leader
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Barcelona World Race Media

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Artemis Racing Update From Paul Cayard

Update from Valencia
27 March 2011
© ACRM/I Wilkins
I am in the middle of a two week stint in Valencia, Spain working mostly with the Artemis Racing technical team which is based here. Juan Kouyoumdjian (Juan K) has his office here with about 20 engineers and since Juan is our lead designer, we built a lot of our structure around Valencia. We are also going to build our wings here and do our first sailing in the new AC72 Class from a sailing base here.

While technology is great these days with email, Skype and Gotomeeting, etc., there is no substitute for being somewhere in person. One of the features of this America's Cup is what I call "decentralization". Our technical team is here in Valencia, there will be boatbuilding in Sweden, the sailing team is all over the world...(currently in New Zealand), the America's Cup itself will take place in San Francisco, thus creating an environment that produces synergy for the team is a big challenge in and of itself. It was all much easier when everyone just moved to one venue for three years as in the "old days" of the Cup.

Apart from all the scientific part, we are currently working on locating our sailing base. There are a few venues we are investigating and it is interesting trying to imagine what we will and will not be able to do with this boat where you can't drop the sails to come into the dock. Running down the "cattle shoot" of the America's Cup harbor here in a nice summer Southeasterly sea breeze, at 30 knots (because there is no way "ease the main" to slow the thing down) could be a little more exciting than we want. BMW ORACLE was based in the commercial port a year ago when they had there 185 foot winged triamaran. That is not really an option for us but there are other choices.

The Artemis Racing sailing team is in Auckland (another ex AC city) training in our new AC45 catamaran. This new boat will race eight events over the next year in the America's Cup World Series. The ACWS is a world tour that will take place every year with the Cup boats. We are starting with these 45 footers as no one has the 72's ready yet. The 72's will debut on the World Series in August of 2012 in San Francisco. The idea of the World Series is to feature the America's Cup boats and sailors on a regular basis. Then once every three years, there will by the America's Cup itself, thereby preserving the uniqueness of that event.

On a personal note, I have been trying to track down my first sailboat. It was an El Toro built by my father in the garage of our house in San Francisco in 1967. I finally found it being well looked after by a couple living just outside of Sacramento, in the Sierra foothills. They were willing to part with the boat and yesterday, my parents drove up there an picked it up. The US National Sailing Hall of Fame wants the boat so my Dad will refinish it to museum quality and we will present it to the museum later this year. I am excited for my Dad as it is a nice way to memorialize what a great thing he did for his eight year old son.

Paul

Less Than 1400 Miles To Go For Virbac-Paprec 3

  • Virbac-Paprec 3 detour north to avoid Canary Islands lee
  • ETA Virbac-Paprec 3 at Gibraltar overnight 31st March to 1st April
  • Central Lechera Asturiana aim to restart from Wellington after 25 day technical stopover
 © Central Lechera Asturiana
As anticipated by many, Virbac-Paprec 3 has tacked north again this afternoon, taking a short hitch to avoid passing directly through the Canary Islands archipelago and the likely long wind shadows cast bay the high mountains, especially Tenerife. With some 90 miles left to reach the westernmost extremity of the islands, Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron will take a short hitch back to the north before extending east all the way to the Moroccan coast. Iker Martinez retains his fierce optimism, believing that there will be chances to pull back some miles on the leading pair after MAPFRE passes the Canary Islands.

“As far as strategy goes there is not much before the Canary Islands, we make a mainly northerly course and will tack to the east depending on the evolution of the anticyclone, but what seems more complex is after the Canaries to the Straits of Gibraltar when it seems like there will be less wind.”

The Spanish double Olympic medalist explained on this morning’s visio link up with MAPFRE. They remain determined to be resigned to second place, but he admits “our destiny is for sure not 100% in our own hands.”
© We Are Water
If the Spanish sailing icons don’t feel particularly compromised on this long upwind leg since the Equator by the damaged dagger board, Martinez saying it might be causing them a small fraction of a knot of difference, Boris Herrmann and his co-skipper Ryan Breymaier are much more frustrated by the fact they cannot cant their keel to its maximum, so losing valuable righting moments as they duel with Estrella Damm. Herrmann’s assertion is backed up by their loss of 14 miles over the last 24 hours to their Spanish rivals. Estrella Damm are now 36 miles ahead: “It is just a bit nuts for us just now because we feel like if we had the full potential of our keel then it would be a totally different game, for us it is like driving a car with only four out of five gears. We cant switch into fifth gear and get the last bit of speed. We reckon that it is almost a knot that we are missing, so it is a good thing for them. They seem to be able to sail away from us with no trouble.

It is like in a dinghy, a lighter dinghy crew has to sail a higher angle, a closer angle to the wind, trying to do the same VMG like that. That is what we try to do here. The boat has slightly less righting moment, the only option is to sail higher at a slower speed, but that works pretty well. Explained Herrmann

But for the Spanish-English duo of Anna Corbella and Dee Caffari on GAES Centros Auditivos there is the hope that they will be able to sail the north Atlantic with their IMOCA Open 60 back at very close to 100% potential after completing their ballast tank repair yesterday. Corbella confirmed they will be giving the lamination 48 hours to cure completely before building up to maximum speed.

But the biggest repair of all has been that of Central Lechera who have been in Wellington since 3rd March when they arrived with their broken mast, but the team informed Race Direction in Barcelona that they intend to set out from the Kiwi capital tonight.

“Our objective was and continues to be the completion of the circumnavigation. As the Mexican song goes, ‘finishing first is not really the important thing, the important thing is to know how to finish’. We really have this desire to complete what we started” explained Juan Merediz, while his co-skipper, Fran Palacio, explains: “ Our shore team, management and the FNOB are doing all in their power for us to be able to fulfill our dream. We do not have enough words of gratitude to express all we feel for this help. Without a doubt we have worked with the best.”

Standings of Sunday 27th March at 1400hrs

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 1401 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE + 242 miles to leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at + 1081 miles to leader
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at + 1236 miles to leader
5 NEUTROGENA at + 1271 miles to leader
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at + 1846 miles to leader
7 HUGO BOSS at + 3367 miles to leader
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at + 3855 miles to leader
9 WE ARE WATER at 5640 miles to leader
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at + 10149 miles to leader
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Barcelona World Race Media

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Long Beat Home For Barcelona World Race Fleet

  • MAPFRE returned from ghost mode
  • Virbac-Paprec 3 at Gibraltar 1st April
  • Boatbuilding time for Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella
  • Central Lechera Asturiana preparing in Wellington
© Chris Cameron / DPPI / Barcelona World Race
Second placed MAPFRE emerged from ghost mode this afternoon having made a net gain of some 33 miles on Barcelona World Race leaders Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron.

The French duo are still very much in a controlling position on what promises to be a long windward leg to the Straits of Gibraltar, but it is the Azores high pressure which is still dictating terms to the leaders, forcing them east and on the wind.

As they approach the Canary Islands from the west, even Virbac-Paprec 3’s Loïck Peyron sounded slightly wearied today, hardly inspired by the prospect of six more days at least of windward sailing in moderate breezes, but the duo will be content to have their Spanish adversaries back ‘in vision’ this afternoon.

And while Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez may have gained a few miles as the leaders flirted closer to the centre of the prevailing anticyclone, slowed in lighter breezes, now it will be their turn to stretch slightly as they sail east, theoretically into more wind pressure.

Peyron would not be drawn on their best estimate for Gibraltar, but it looks likely for early on 1st April. With just under 1600 miles to go and a VMG of under eight knots, the final days will be a test of patience as much as skill, guile and boat speed.

MAPFRE was making east or a parallel track to Virbac-Paprec 3 this afternoon, taking each wind shift or extra pressure that they could, making at least two or three short tacks over the course of today as they step north then east, their raw boat speed slightly down on Virbac-Paprec 3 sailing in slightly lighter NE’ly trade winds.

For firm friends, adversaries and Barcelona sparring partners on Farr sister-ships Renault Z.E Sailing Team and Estrella Damm, third and fourth respectively, there was the novelty today of being linked together duplex by Visio-Conference with Barcelona and Race HQ.

Cheeky banter was inevitable between Pepe Ribes and Toño Piris, Ribes ribbing Talpi when he got the chance, but clearly the two teams enjoy particular bragging rights between each other having prepared alongside each other from the Barcelona competition base, and not least in completing the New York-Barcelona record in April last year, but Piris reaffirmed again their concerns about the speed potential of Estrella Damm.

And in turn Ribes is also still concerned about the fact that Neutrogena have doggedly held pace with Estrella Damm:

“Twice we have put sixty miles on them and twice they have come back at us. They have an ability to sail a higher angle which we can’t seem to. We are starting to sail in a faster upwind mode and they sail slower but a higher angle. Their way to sail is different from ours, we can’t sail their way because we can’t make those angles with the same speed they are doing. If we cannot control them at their speed and angle then we are forced to do a different thing.”Explained Ribes of their duel with fifth placed Neutrogena whoe were still less than 20 miles behind Estrella Damm this afternoon.

Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella appear to be making modest progress again after a slowed spell this morning and early afternoon which suggested they could be making their composite repair to their mid bow stringer and forward ballast tank. Thanks to extensive preparation work undertaken by Caffari to make the area completely ready the repair was forecast to take three to four hours according to GAES Centros Auditivos’ boat captain Joff Brown.

FMC had 370 miles to go to Cape Horn this afternoon and from Wellington news is still awaited of the outcome of the sea trials of Central Lechera Asturiana.

Due to the change to summer times as of Sunday 27th MAR rankings are now published at 4hUTC/5hBST/6hEurope; 9hUTC/10hBST 11hEurope; 14hUTC/15hBST 16hEurope/19hUTC/20hBST/21hEurope

Standings of Saturday 26th March at 1400hrs

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 1599.3 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE + 211.4 miles to leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at + 1094 miles to leader
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at + 1248.7 miles to leader
5 NEUTROGENA at + 1265 miles to leader
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at + 1769 miles to leader
7 HUGO BOSS at + 3496 miles to leader
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at + 3855 miles to leader
9 WE ARE WATER at 5620 miles to leader
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at + 9951 miles to leader
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Barcelona World Race Media

Friday, March 25, 2011

Leaders In Barcelona World Race Are Playing The Ghost

  • Two leaders in Ghost mode
  • We Are Water looking to try and repair broken boom, 500 miles to Cape Horn
  • Central Lechera Asturiana stepping repaired mast in Wellington
  • Estrella Damm and Neutrogena back in Northern Hemisphere
© We Are Water
Who is haunting who, or is it who is hunting who? When second placed MAPFRE went into ghost mode early this morning it meant that, for the second time in this Barcelona World Race, the top two boats pressed the ‘invisible’ button in close succession.

Speaking on this morning’s Visio-conference live with Race HQ in Barcelona, Spain’s Xabi Fernandezreaffirmed that one of the key reasons for utilising the ‘Ghost’ mode again is because their weather options have opened up more, giving the Spanish Olympic medallists an opportunity to develop any new strategy unseen by the long time race leader Virbac-Paprec 3.
© Hugo Boss
Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron are due to re-appear this evening again, returning from their self imposed exile from the public tracking system.

When the two boats were both last ‘live’ Virbac-Paprec 3 lead by 250 miles, MAPFRE sailing east of the track of the leading boat.

As the duo play with the extending tentacles of the Azores anticyclone which is effectively barring the direct route to the Straits of Gibraltar, it may be that MAPFRE are simply calling the bluff of the French duo Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron, or perhaps they have chosen to head away from the lighter winds closer to the centre of the high and invested east to try and fine more wind pressure and a better angle closer to the Moroccan coast?

Fernandez reported this morning: “Yesterday we saw that the weather was getting a bit more complicated between here and Gibraltar and Virbac-Paprec 3 have more complex winds, so we decided to play a bit with this since the weather forecasts change each day. And we thought it makes sense to play this card before Gibraltar. Yes, the main alternatives are to go north or east, but a few days ago the option looked to be going north was the only option. So Virbac-Paprec 3 and us, we have chosen to do this because the options are all a bit more open now.”
© Central Lechera Asturiana
With the two leading boats engaged in their supposed cloak and dagger moves for their approach to the Canary Islands, Virbac-Paprec 3’s track through or past the archipelago should be immediately apparent this evening.

Meantime, phantom or not, ghost mode did not stop Fernandez from appearing on the Visio-Conference, though the view of the Spanish spectre was strictly ‘indoors only’, as a little ‘technical difficulty’ prevented him from letting the watching world see what the weather and sea conditions were, but more importantly what tack they were sailing on on MAPFRE.

Fernandez was clearly showing some effect of their diet regime, cut to two meals a day now. He confirmed that they have set aside rations until the 5th or 6th April.

Broken Boom
© We Are Water
We Are Water duo Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti are looking for the first suitable, practical option to put their composite repair skills to the test after their boom was snapped in two by the force of a big, breaking wave last night, some 650 miles to the west of Cape Horn. The duo, who seem to have had more than their fair share of the race’s big storms, were making good progress towards the Cape which they should reach late Sunday, sailing only under staysail or jib.

“We took the main down very early and for the two days prior to the storm we were preparing, taking everything off the deck which we thought could break.It is difficult to explain how chaotic the sea was, the winds and the cold.This is another cruel thing for us, we felt confident and happy because we felt like we had done a good job preparing the boat. The boom was perfect and secured so all we can think is that it was pushed sideways bt the force of a wave. We can only think a wave hit it. It has done a lot of miles, so we are feeling a bit unlucky.”

Into The North

Emerging into the Northern Hemisphere this morning, there is no let up in the tussle between Neutrogenain fifth and Estrella Damm in fourth. Only 22 miles separates this pair after a productive night of Doldrums work by the American-German duo Ryan Breymaier and Boris Herrmann who have kept themselves firmly in contention at this key stage of the race. And Estrella Damm still only have 142 miles of deficit to Renault Z.E Sailing Team. Without doubt this is setting up as a second half of the Atlantic battle which will be every bit as engaging as it has been since Cape Horn. The two red boats were due to pick up speed later today as they too breathe the oxygen of the strengthening NE’ly trades

Renault Z.E Sailing Team’sToño Piris reported today:

“We crossed to the North yesterday at 1344 hrs and we gave our offering to Neptune: the alcohol free beer (cold, cold, cold –My God,,,, 40º degrees on deck) some Jamón Serrano and the last small piece of chocolate we got. As soon as we got into the North Hemisphere we have enjoyed some nice puffs. Nice gusts that heeled the boat. Great. A nice welcome into the North.”

Preparing in Wellington
© Central Lechera Asturiana
And good progress to report for the Central Lechera Asturiana duo Juan Merediz and Fran Palaciowho, three weeks after they arrived with a broken rig, have managed to step their repaired mast in Wellington. The duo intend to make two trial sails to fine tune their rigging before making their final decision.

Standings of Friday 25th March at 1400hrs

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 GHOST MODE
2 MAPFRE GHOST MODE
3 RENAULT Z.E at 2890 miles to finish
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 121 miles to ‘leader’
5 NEUTROGENA at 142 miles to leader
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 598.5 miles to leader
7 HUGO BOSS at 2552 miles to leader
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 2808 miles to leader
9 WE ARE WATER at 4530 miles to leader
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 8660 miles to leader
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By Barcelona World Race Media

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Barcelona World Race Update- Fleet in Survival Mode

• Virbac-Paprec 3 in ‘ghost’ mode
• We Are Water prepare for the worst case scenario
• Renault Z.E. third into northern hemisphere
Loïck Peyron and Jean-Pierre Dick on ghost mode © Virbac-Paprec 3
‘Let’s play!’ commented Loick Peyron and Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) from Virbac-Paprec 3 this morning as they entered ‘stealth’ mode at 1000hrs (UTC). Their position or rankings will not be visible for 36 hours, ensuring that their movements will remain hidden from view by the fleet and nearest rivals MAPFRE.

Tactically the forthcoming upwind section of Atlantic raises an interesting dilemma for the front-runners, and particularly for MAPFRE, 244 miles behind in this morning’s 0500hrs position report. The Azores High is expanding east-west across the north Atlantic, creating a large obstacle on the way to the Mediterranean. Whilst taking a westerly route looks like an unworkable tactic given the considerable extra mileage involved, the issue of when to tack east to avoid the centre of the anticyclone remains uncertain.

The GRIB files show stronger winds near the coast so by tacking early towards North Africa they will reach better pressure soonest, but will be sailing an unfavorable angle for longer. Carry on heading north as long as they dare and they will benefit from lifting pressure, but are at risk of getting trapped by the light winds at the centre of the high, while taking a ‘middle road’ between the two means avoiding the light winds in the lee of the Canary Islands. When to tack in, and when to tack back out? Timing will be everything, and by selecting stealth mode Virbac-Paprec 3 are hiding the clues for MAPFRE.

Battening Down The Hatches
© Estrella Damm
The situation is more serious on We Are Water. “The barometer has gone down to 956mb, we are preparing for the worst possible scenario,” emailed Jaume Mumbru (ESP) this morning, as he and Cali Sanmarti prepared to ride out what Barcelona World Race meteorologist Marcel van Triest predicted could be the worst Southern Ocean storm of the race due to a deep low pressure system.
© Estrella Damm
The weather forecast for the area they are sailing in for the next 18 hours is severe: a south-westerly gale of 45-60 knots, gusting 75: a Force 12. In conjunction with the strong winds, huge seas are also predicted with a 9-12 metre swell. Heavy rain, squalls, and even snow are all likely as the winds are blowing directly from Antarctica, bringing bitingly cold dense air which makes the conditions all the more intense.

Jaume Mumbru reported from the boat around 1500hrs this afternoon that they were running away from the gale under storm jib only with zero mainsail, in around 55 knot (63mph or 101 km/h) winds. The pair were safely inside the boat, which was making around 11 knots in a north-easterly direction, and reported that although conditions were intensely cold, the wave pattern was better than anticipated with no confused cross-seas.

Battle For Bronze
© Onboard Estrella Damm
Just 118 miles divide the third to fifth-placed boats this afternoon as Renault Z.E., Estrella Damm and Neutrogena sweat it out in the Doldrums, where temperatures are soaring to over 30 degrees inside, making sleep during daytime for some almost impossible.

Renault Z.E. became the third boat to re-enter the northern hemisphere at 1445 (UTC) this afternoon, in what so far appears to be a relatively benign Doldrums crossing. Just 76 miles behind, Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes (ESP) remain solid in fourth, ahead of Ryan Breymaier (USA) and Boris Herrmann (GER) on Neutrogena. Ryan Breymaier explained today:

“There are position reports every six hours and I’m always looking on the map to see how many more miles we still have to cover, how fast, and when we’ll arrive. There are lots of things that can affect the rankings, the weather can change things quickly and as we saw from the start of the race the Mediterranean is not very easy for anyone to manage so we hope to be close to each other and still able to earn miles on them. But we don’t think too much about third place as I think with our damaged keel it’s going to be too difficult to get near enough.”
GAES Centros Auditivos ©
At 535 miles behind, Dee Caffari (GBR) and Anna Corbella (ESP) on GAES Centros Auditivos are also anticipating the light winds, as they require flat water to make laminating repairs to their leaking ballast tank. Instead they have experienced fluctuating and unpredictable breezes that Dee Caffari this morning described as a ‘practice Doldrums’, but are this afternoon once again making 10 knots.

Having exited yesterday’s brief but fierce low pressure system, Forum Maritim Catala and Hugo Boss are the fastest of the fleet over the past 24 hours, with just under 200 miles dividing the pair. With the depression having rapidly moved south-east, the race is now on for both to make sufficient ground north to avoid the chasing high and accompanying light winds. Forum Maritim Catala having gained over 80 miles on Hugo Boss over the past 24 hours, and the competition between the two is yet to be settled.

Standings at 1400hrs Wednesday 23rd March, 2011

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 in ‘ghost’ mode
2 MAPFRE at 3066,6 miles from the finish
3 RENAULT Z.E at 887,5 from the MAPFRE
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 963,5 miles
5 NEUTROGENA at 1005 miles
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1540,8 miles
7 HUGO BOSS at 3558,1 miles
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 3749,4 miles
9 WE ARE WATER at 5462,2 miles
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 9371,2 miles
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Barcelona World Race Media

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Barcelona World Race Update- Spanish/French Duo Doing It Tough

• 50-knot conditions for Hugo Boss and Forum Maritim Catala
• Impending storm for We Are Water
• Renault Z.E. enter the Doldrums
• Leaders’ ‘no comment’ on tactical decision to come
© MAPFRE
Huddled in thermals, blearily rubbing his eyes with tiredness, Ludovic Aglaor, the co-skipper of Forum Maritim Catala today illustrated how rounding Cape Horn does not necessarily equate to hitting the home stretch in the Barcelona World Race.

The French skipper and his team mate Gerard Marin (ESP) reported that they had been caught up in the most severe storm of the competition last night, an fact corroborated by nearby Hugo Boss.
© Hugo Boss
“Last night has been pretty intense with the strongest winds we have seen so far in the race. Storm force winds, squalls with 52 knot gusts and short choppy seas meant that we have been glued to the wheel all night,” Wouter Verbraak (NED) reported today by email.

“We had 60 knots of wind and it’s been really severely cold. A huge squall has arrived again so I’ve just taken down the solent – we did not anticipate that this would be so hard and so long! Last night we were sailing under bare poles. Only the tip of the mainsail remained while we had four reefs in. At around 2200h (UTC) it increased to 60 knots,” recalled Aglaor.

“Early last night, the sea was good, because it hadn’t had time to build up but it has increased a lot this morning. It’s not breaking, but the waves are quite short and it feels like there are deep troughs of around 8-10 metres deep really close to each other that are not easy to negotiate!”While Forum Maritim Catalaseem to have experienced the worst of conditions, Hugo Boss were able to harness some of the strong winds to make 16 knots earlier this morning, and have now pulled 277 miles ahead in seventh place.
© Hugo Boss
Whilst the far southerly latitudes of the Pacific and Indian Oceans are rightly feared for the large depressions which can form and roll, uninterrupted by land, around the base of the planet, a young Atlantic depression such as this one can also bring chaotic conditions. Being less than 24-hours formed, this low pressure storm is more compact, and features abrupt changes in force and direction leading to a confused and short sea state.

A Southern Ocean low is also advancing towards We Are Water in the eastern Pacific, who look set to experience 50-60 knot wind speeds from tomorrow. Currently 950 miles from Cape Horn, Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti (ESP) are likely to be overcome by the east-moving depression in the next 24 hours, but released from it before the reach the tip of South America.

The Third Doldrums

Dripping with sweat even in shorts, with the sails flapping on deck, it was a very different picture forAntoñio Piris (ESP) in today’s video conference. The third boat to enter the Doldrums, Renault Z.E. have crept out of the light airs of the poorly established southerly trades, into the unpredictable and equally light breezes of the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

“We’ve been having pre-pre-Doldrums, pre-Doldrums, and now Doldrums. So for me they’ve been the longest and the widest that I’ve ever done. They’re frustrating because we’re leading a pack and we’re always looking behind with a little bit of fear of the guys at the back having a little bit more wind and us thinking we’re going through this too slowly. So the feeling is that we’re sticking, and we’re not going through the water as fast as we’d like,” Toñoreported today.
© Estrella Damm
Behind them Estrella Damm and Neutrogena have escaped the lightest breezes and are now back in double digit figures, with Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes (ESP) pulling ahead to lead by 38 miles in fourth.

“We can’t wait to get through and get some fresh wind because now the wind is changing every minute. We can’t stop changing the sails and the course of the boat and adjusting everything because the wind is very shifty, and it’s very easy to have a slow boat and it’s very difficult to get it going again. So it’s tense days, tense moments and we can’t wait to get out of here,” added Piris.

The tension of looking behind was also evident for race leaders Virbac Paprec 3 today, as Loick Peyron (FRA) admitted to “pleading in front of the computer like a muppet” every time a position report came in. The French leading duo have added just 17 miles to their advantage over MAPFRE in the past 24 hours, as Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez (ESP) pile on the pressure.

But when it comes to their planned strategy for shaking off the Spanish pair around an imminent high pressure system, Peyron would not be drawn, wryly commenting: “We all know there are two ways to pass a high pressure, or two sides I should say, and we have to choose one side, in a few days, but you are not going to know what side we’re going to choose, that’s for sure.”

By Barcelona World Race Media Team

Standings at 1400hrs Wednesday 23rd March, 2011

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 2138,6 miles from the finish
2 MAPFRE at 236,7 miles from the leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at 1048,4 miles
4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 1221,4 miles
5 NEUTROGENA at 1259,9 miles
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1775 miles
7 HUGO BOSS at 3810,1 miles
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 4087,1 miles
9 WE ARE WATER at 5692,9 miles
10 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 9411,7 miles
RTD FONCIA
RTD PRESIDENT
RTD GROUPE BEL
RTD MIRABAUD