Hugo Boss Pushes For A Weekend Finish (Photo copywright Hugo Boss)

Hugo Boss Pushes For A Weekend Finish (Photo copywright Hugo Boss)

In the end it will be down to the vagaries of the Mediterranean weather, but the respective duos on Hugo Boss and on Forum Maritim Catala have different other reasons to be keen to be home across the Barcelona World Race finish line later this week.

Andy Meiklejohn has an expectant young son’s birthday Friday while Gerard Marin would like to be in for Saturday, returning from his first circumnavigation to give his girlfriend her traditional rose on St Jordi’s (Saint George’s Day).

Marin, from Girona, was wearing probably the biggest smile yet of his 108 days at sea – save perhaps the big grin that he wore for his Cape Horn rounding – today when he was linked with Barcelona. The combination of fast reaching towards home, making easy miles towards the target on the former Kingfisher, and knowing that by tomorrow night or Wednesday morning they should be back in the Med, are reasons enough to be happy especially after many tense, difficult days.

Speaking on this morning’s Visio-Conference he said:

“ These are great farewell times for our round the world race. The Med is very difficult to predict and forecast, so it could take up to four days from the Straits, but I think between Saturday night and Monday morning. I am not sure that I will be back in time for St Jordi’s day (Saint George’s Day) to give my girlfriend a rose.?

Forum Maritim Catala has made a further 100 miles on Hugo Boss over the 24 hours to mid morning today, and were 380 miles behind Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak this morning.

Hugo Boss were well into the stiff easterly Levante conditions by this morning, expecting up to 30knots with difficult seas which will require the Kiwi-Dutch pairing to take care of their boat before what looks like a relativey straightforward upwind passage to Barcelona.

This morning the duo had 605 miles to the finish – some 80 miles of upwind sailing to get to Tarifa – where they were expected to pass around midnight tonight. Both will enjoy the moment this morning knowing they have less than one Fastnet or one Sydney-Hobart to go, but a short sprint compared to their ultra-marathon. But the difficult conditions and heavy shipping traffic meant they could not join Barcelona for the visio-conference this morning.

Gerard Marin (ESP) Forum Maritim Catala:“We are happy, sailing on a beam reach at 15knots with 400 miles from the Straits of Gibraltar and we hope to get there tomorrow night. The wind is a bit more than forecast and there are some squalls coming in. We are sailing with the low pressure buyt once we get to the Straits we will get to headwinds, beating and it will be difficult to make more miles on Hugo Boss after that. At the moment we can catch a few more miles, but I think it is impossible to catch them. It is down to the meteorology now but I don’t think we can. It is just part of the game.

For me sailing back into the Med after the whole circumnavigation is very important. It is an important stage in my career as a sportsperson, but of course I have to finish it. But it will take a few days to discover how it really feels. It is a good thing for the future. And hopefully it will lead to other things in the future. The D4 and D3 diagonals have stretched a bit and are too long, so with the wind as it is just now with a reef and a genoa it does not affect us too much. We cant set the full main and usually we have to take in the reef two or three knots before we would usually do so.

These are great farewell times for our round the world race. The Med is very difficult to predict and forecast, so it could take up to four days from the Straits, but I think between Saturday night and Monday morning. I am not sure that I will be back in time for St Jordi’s day (Saint George’s Day) to give my girlfriend a rose.”

 

Photo copyright We Are Water

Photo copyright We Are Water

Hugo Boss (Photo courtesy of Hugo Boss / Barcelona World Race)

Hugo Boss (Photo courtesy of Hugo Boss / Barcelona World Race)

 

After eighth placed Hugo Boss and ninth placed GAES Centros Auditivos round Cape Horn this Friday evening there will be just three of the Barcelona World Race fleet left in the Pacific, including Central Lechera Asturiana in Wellington where Juan Merediz and Fran Palacio await the repair of their broken mast.

Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak were expected to pass Cape Horn at around 2000hrs UTC this evening with the girls duo on GAES Centros Auditivos only around three hours behind them. Dutch co-skipper Verbraak, reporting to the Global Sports Forum’s live Barcelona World Race Visio-Conference today, confirmed that the duo have had a tough Pacific and were looking forward to the release of the ‘big left hand corner’ and the challenges and opportunities the Atlantic should bring them:

“It feels great for us to be getting there….I was only supposed to be going to the Cape Verdes, here I am at Cape Horn!? quipped Verbraak.

For both of them it will their third passage of the Cape of Storms. The complex pattern of multiple low pressure centres was giving them variable breezes, anything from 10 to 35 knots within minutes of each which was making it hard for the duo to find an ideal sail-plan.

Today’s prelude to their passage was the first time that either of the co-skippers have been contacted live on air since their exit from the Cook Strait because they have been very strictly rationing their energy use.

“The fuel situation is not that great.  We’ve had generator problems where a coolant part of the generator has stopped working. This happened well before New Zealand, and thanks to the support and creativity of our shore crew we have managed to find a solution using another part on the boat and plumbing that in, which wasn’t straightforward but we managed to do it. But that was a big bonus, and means we don’t have to stop for fuel, but we do have strict strict rations so unfortunately we haven’t been able to go into the videoconference, which is big shame but it’s good to be talking now.?

Caffari and Corbella look like they might be able to reap a reward for their prudent strategy across the Pacific, but like Hugo Boss they are expected to have little time for souvenirs and tourism. Indeed it was shaping up to be unfortunate timing for Caffari’s Spanish co-skipper Anna Corbella. She may be set to become the first Spanish woman ever to race round Cape Horn and add to her honours as the first Spanish female sailor to race the Atlantic solo – finishing 13th in the 2009 MiniTransat – but with 104 miles to the rock at 1600hrs UTC it was shaping up very much like the girls would pass into the Atlantic during the hours of darkness.

It will be a considerable triumph for Corbella who disliked sailing when she started at four on her parents’ small yacht. It was only when she started racing in the 420 that the bug bit and since then she moved through into an Olympic 470 programme which she progressed She helped prepare Jaume Mumbrú’s MiniTransat and then was leant his boat to compete on her own. Considering she only stepped on an IMOCA Open 60 for the first time just over one year ago, hers is an achievement to be proud of.

But time will not be waiting for either Hugo Boss nor GAES Centros Auditivos as a high pressure system is set to develop off the Argentine/Uruguay coast which would effectively force them out on to an easterly routing up the Atlantic. Their most recent routing suggests they need to get north and west as possible, perhaps set to be the first boats to route west of the Falklands and maybe even through the notorious Le Maire Straits which separate Cape Horn from Staten Island.

 

Standings at 1400hrs UTC Friday 11th March

1              VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 4462,5 miles  de l’arrivée

2              MAPFRE at 544,8 miles to the leader

3              RENAULT Z.E at 1308,2 miles

4              NEUTROGENA at 1706,6 miles

5              ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 1790,5 miles

6              MIRABAUD at 1796,4 miles

7              GROUPE BEL at 2394,7 miles

8              HUGO BOSS at 2500 miles

9              GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 2544,2 miles

10            FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 4588,3 miles

11            WE ARE WATER at 6732,5miles

12            CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 7087,8 miles

ABN       FONCIA

ABN       PRESIDENT

 

Quotes

Iker Martinez (ESP) MAPFRE:“The big picture for last few days was very hard for us, we’ve been floating not sailing. We have gone too much west in the high pressure, and we couldn’t do anything else. We have had  to wait to hoist the spinnaker because we didn’t have this halyard and then we were too late. So we just try to manage the situation and now we’re happy because we’re sailing fast again. The leader is a little bit more far away, 500 miles, which is a lot but we’re moving so that’s good, and we’ll keep going.

On the video conferences: “It’s nice because you have a little contact with the world, and when we’re here sailing we almost don’t remember what’s going on outside. So we try to show a little to our family, and to know a little about what’s going on outside. It’s completely different compared to what happened for example in the Olympics where the press is pushing you were too much, and you just don’t want to deal with the press because you’re concentrating on your things, they’re pushing too much. Here it’s much nicer, it’s just a couple of minutes of enjoyment and I enjoy it quite a lot! I try to push Xabi to the videoconference but he doesn’t like it so much!?

Wouter Verbraak (NED) Hugo Boss:

“We’re pretty excited to have Cape Horn not so far away, but it’s not making things easier – we’ve had a lot of snow and hail storms through the night, and the wind really up and down. At the moment we only have 10 knots but some times in the squalls we have 35-40, so it’s pretty challenging times. It’s as if the Southern Ocean is desperate to show us it’s not over until we’ve really rounded Cape Horn.

“Cape Horn is a big milestone for this race, and obviously for Andy and myself it’s the third time so we know what it means to go around it. It influences a lot of more light airs and a warmer climate, so we’re excited to go into the Atlantic and make our way home.

“This next part, especially for the group ahead of us, there are some difficult weather situations for them to negotiate, whereas for us it looks pretty much downwind so we’re pretty happy with that. We’ve said all along, from the moment when we were in last place, this race isn’t over until we’re back in the Med and we’re still in contention, so we’re looking for any opportunity we can have and see who we can overtake.

“Andy and I myself are in good shape. One thing that has been really strong on our boat is that we’re a great team, we’re very balanced between ourselves and we have complementary skills that we learn from each other. And so we’re good in that sense, and I think that’s going to be a player in the way up the Atlantic.

[Fuel] “The fuel situation is not that great, so we’ve had generator problems where a coolant part of the generator has stopped working. This happened well before New Zealand, and thanks to the support and creativity of our shore crew we have managed to find a solution using another part on the boat and plumbing that in, which wasn’t straightforward but we managed to do it. But that was a big up, and means we don’t have to stop for fuel, but we do have strict strict rations so unfortunately we haven’t been able to go into the videoconference, which is big shame but it’s good to be talking now.

[Rounding Horn] “I was never meant to go past the Cape Verde islands! Normally there would be a bottle of strong liquor on the boat, but I think on this occasion there will be a lot of candy, maybe an extra delve into the supplies of chocolate!

“For us ever since New Zealand we’ve been bouncing into this low pressure system ahead of them, and as we all know the conditions just behind the low pressure system are not very ideal for sailing, so we’ll see what happens. We just crossed a line so we’re happy with that, and ahead there’s still some challenging times. It’s actually fun to have somebody to race against, and we’ll see when Groupe Bel comes out she’ll be another potential competitor that we’ll keep our eye on.?

Alex Pella (ESP) Estrella Damm:  “Yesterday we spent more of our time clearing kelp and seaweed from under the boat, it was stuck everywhere. We were unlucky because we had to go backwards. We are pretty happy now because we are going north and the waves are smaller and the weather is pretty good. We are going upwind in 15 knots, with small waves and pointing home. It is a tricky part of the course, because there is no clearly defined route, it is a bit unstable. We have a big front in two days and we need to see how we do with that, how we can work with that and what the others do. It is quite uncertain how it will go and there are many options, but for sure the race for us is wide open.”

0~0~2~Estrella Damm~BARCELONA TV~0~0~Copia de IMG_0755

Neutrogena  (Photo by Neutrogena / Barcelona World Race)

Neutrogena (Photo by Neutrogena / Barcelona World Race)

From the leading duo counting down their final 750 or 800 miles to Cape Horn to those nearly 5000 miles behind fighting to make it across the Tasman to the Cook Strait, the vast majority of the Barcelona World Race fleet today are either racing in strong winds, or expecting them imminently.

Virbac-Paprec 3 and MAPFRE, some 78 miles apart this afternoon, are trying to outrun the approach of a fast moving low pressure system, the regenerated, reinvigorated Atu (Atu v2.0?) and escape around Cape Horn into the Atlantic. But it is the fleet’s tailgunners on We Are Water which has struggled the most today after being temporarily knocked flat by a big wave, taking water inside the boat.

Jaume Mumbrú and Cali Sanmarti reported that they are both fine, but unable to gybe due to a broken lazyjack and other sundry problems the duo were making slow SE’ly course during the early afternoon, before heaving while they baled water out of the boat and try to sort out their electronics problems. The impact of the wave ripped apart plastic spray curtains which protect part of the cockpit,. Part of the electrical equipment is not working at the moment.

And Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella last night (day time local for them) suffered a series of involuntary tacks when GAES Centros Auditivos’ autopilot hiccupped twice. With two sails partly in the water, the duo had their hands full, choosing to run north and take some pressure off themselves and the boat. The robust hard reaching conditions, with the wind slightly forward of the beam in difficult seas, made their choice of sacrificing some miles to Hugo Boss a difficult one, but a necessary one at the time.

“Things are horrible. We are upwind in 35 knots of wind and it is pretty wet and miserable. We had an ‘everything’ problem, the good thing about it all was that it was daylight when it happened. It was a catalogue of disasters and it took us quite a lot to get through it. And I just had a very brief time in the bean bag and I said to her that I feel like I have been beaten up. I feel quite exhausted by it. We are really wanting this wind to drop now.

We have come back on course now. We decided that we cant run away to the north for ever because it does just make the course worse afterwards. We are back where we should be after having a bit of rest and recovery. We are now just upwind and it is 30-35kts.” Said Caffari on this morning’s Visio-Conference.

“It was a bit emotional at the time but we did manage to giggle about it, we found the funny side of it, the fact that we were so ridiculously wet. But everything is still working, the boat is OK. We got the sails back on board, so of all the things that did go wrong we dealt with it all well.”

The duel at the front of the fleet between Virbac-Paprec 3 and MAPFRE now sees the French duo taking a clear advantage with their more northerly tracking. Individually both sets of co-skippers reported that they were struggling with the very changeable and unstable winds – requiring many sail changes and constant vigilance – in the brisk, but variable breezes sent by the low pressure centre which was just to the south east of them today, slightly closer for the Spanish duo.

Despite the intensity of the battle with the Virbac-Paprec 3, the evident chagrin at losing miles to the French pair, not to mention the extreme cold – 4 deg C and the fact that it was in the middle if a dark, dirty night – it was again an inspiration today to see the pleasure that Fernandez, Spain’s three times 49er world champion, double Olympic medalist and twice Volvo round the world veteran, takes in answering questions put to him by the young local Barcelona schoolchildren.

The duel with Dick and Peyron is dismissed for a few stolen moments Fernandez’s smile breaks his lips, the twinkle in his eyes lights up the gloomy fug inside MAPFRE as he takes time and pleasure to answer each question fully. One of this race’s unique and pure pleasures, one which perhaps will inspire a new generation of round the world racers?

And the duel for third evens out again this afternoon as Renault Z.E’s Toño Piris and Pachi Rivero fight back, 19 miles ahead of Neutrogena this afternoon both sailing at even speeds.

A special Visio-Conference in the early afternoon linked up guests and representative of sponsors Mirabaud with Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret.

Rankings at 1400hrs Tuesday 1st March 2011

1               VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 7642 miles to finish

2               MAPFRE  79 miles from the leader

3               RENAULT Z.E at 1411 miles

4               NEUTROGENA at  1430 miles

5               MIRABAUD at 1597  miles

6               GROUPE BEL at  1887 miles

7               ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 1957miles

8               HUGO BOSS at 2308 miles

9               GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 2444miles

10             FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 3907 miles

11            CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 4236 miles

12             WE ARE WATER at 4859 miles

RTD        FONCIA

RTD   PRESIDENT

Dee Caffari (GBR) GAES Centros Auditivos:“Things are horrible. We are upwind in 35 knots of wind and it is pretty wet and miserable. We had an ‘everything’ problem, the good thing about it all was that it was daylight when it happened. It was a catalogue of disasters and it took us quite a lot to get through it. And I just had a very brief time in the bean bag and I said to her that I feel like I have been beaten up. I feel quite exhausted by it. We are really wanting this wind to drop now.

We have come back on course now. We decided that we cant run away to the north for ever because it does just make the course worse afterwards. We are back where we should be after having a bit of rest and recovery. We are now just upwind and it is 30-35kts.

According to the forecast by 1800hrs this evening it should start to ease and then we go through our daylight hours upwind.

It was a bit emotional at the time but we did manage to giggle about it, we found the funny side of it, the fact that we were so ridiculously wet. But everything is still working, the boat is OK. We got the sails back on board, so of all the things that did go wrong we dealt with it all well.

It was really good, because I just jump on deck and get on with then I think that she gets a lot of confidence in that, so she drove while I got the sails back on board, and she drove while I sorted the pilots, so she got a bit of a battering each day. We both warmed up and put some dry clothes on and since then we have recovered. It is really good to see her confidence grow so much and in the boat. And we looked after each other, she just said to me that the only thing she wanted was that I not go in the water. I said I was not planning on it!

It is really nice to see Anna progressing, most of confidence and she says that comes from me which I am surprised about, but now she is confident in what the boat can do and making choices like what sails to put up and I am pleased about that, because it makes my life easier. So it is working for both of us.
And she asks questions about, like this is not what you said the Southern Ocean would be like, and I say it is different for me too. It is nice to hear her talking to other skippers in the fleet and sounding more knowledgeable and confident.

Xabi Fernandez (ESP) MAPFRE: “The situation is a little more complicated than the last few days. We have spent the last 24 hours with a lot of showers, one after the other and so we have had no rest. And an area of light winds has really struck us and so we have been losing some miles, little by little.

There are some clouds with showers which bring you squalls and more wind which give you a good push but not in the direction you want. For example we are on a course yesterday of 100-110 degrees and suddenly you get a 50 degrees shift, that is you pointing 50 degrees off your course. On the other hand there are another kind which tyou get which suddenly see the breeze drop from 20 knots to five or six knots, totally quiet and you can do nothing. It pours with rain. And in these hours you are given to wondering how the other boat is going. You kind of assume that it is the same for us both, but the truth is that we had another bad cloud and a spell with zero wind.

I think they are going a bit better than us, we are fighting to stay with them. Although we have got a little bit back I think we can see some compression into Cape Horn. To pass Cape Horn first? …Well it is a big enough achievement at all to pass Cape Horn, but first would be better.

The target is just to go as fast as possible we need to simply get there as quick as possible. If we are slowed or delayed it would be difficult. There is always acceleration of the wind there, and so aside from Virbac-Paprec 3, we just want to be there before the storm gets us.”

Dominique Wavre (SUI) Mirabaud: “We will do all that we can to attack third place, but it is a bit difficult at the moment because tomorrow we have a big depression coming and that will put us in conservation mode not to break anything. And so it is a bit of a difficult position. We are expecting two storms between now and Cape Horn and so it will be difficult but we will be doing all we can to get at third place.”

Michèle Paret (FRA) Mirabaud:“We mostly have enough food to get us to the finish. We have cut back on our consumption. We will have a bit less food for the last week but we don’t have any great concerns. And it is not normal to have to stop to take on food.

At the end of the South Atlantic before the south I felt a bit weak and so we spoke with the doctor and he said I was a bit anemia. And what we had in the boat’s pharmacy would not be enough until the end of the race. And the treatment is long term. So the preference was to get a supply from New Zealand and as soon as I started to take the iron I have been feeling better. And so I continue to take it to make sure I don’t risk a new weakness.”

Dominique Wavre: “Mirabaud is in good shape. We have no big concerns. Yesterday there was a problem with a wind indicator but we use the spare which is a bit less precise but it is a little les precise. The boat feels a little tired, but everything is intact. We have been surfing at 22-23 knots. The wind is lifting and so we go a little north again to wait for the shift and then to return to the south on the back of a major depression heading in the direction of Cape Horn.”

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Hugo Boss (Photo by Chris Cameron / DPPI / Barcelona World Race)

Hugo Boss (Photo by Chris Cameron / DPPI / Barcelona World Race)

It is certainly not the 50th birthday present that Groupe Bel skipper Kito De Pavant was looking for, especially not ‘second time around’.

Such is the ironic timing of the Laughing Cow’s crossing of the international date-line later today and tomorrow that De Pavant was passing his first 50th Birthday concerned about the weather situation but tomorrow he will facing up to the formidable tropical cyclone Atu when the ‘second edition’ of his 50th birthday comes around.

Both De Pavant and Spain’s Pepe Ribes, who both left Wellington on Tuesday night together on Groupe Bel and Estrella Damm, expressed their concern about how they would best deal with the trajectory and force of the challenging weather system which will propagate very strong winds and big, confused seas. Their key decisions will be based around the speed at which the system moves and both duos have been tracking the system consistently since before they left the Kiwi capital.

Mirabaud at Cook Strait (photo by Dave Greenberg)

Mirabaud at Cook Strait (photo by Dave Greenberg)

“ We don’t really know which way to deal with the problem: either by the south or by the north. What we do know it that it lies right on our course.” SaidDe Pavant this morning, “ It is a pretty violent and unpleasant character, not what you want for your birthday. The cyclone brings with it a lot of rain, a lot of wind, and big seas. It is a small but very compact phenomenon which can damage the boat, very risky.”

Pepe Ribes said this morning: “ The passage of the Atu cyclone will be very complicated and neither Alex nor I have ever been confronted by such strong winds and I don’t really know what it will do to us and we are worried to look after the boat. We have been looking at if for a while and still don’t know how we will cross it.”

The system is due to pass swiftly, the two boats which were in Wellington, will have it directly in their path, giving them the option to pass to the north which will at least give them the chance to use the westerlies on the north side of it, but they would need to sail a steeper angle and more miles to get there. The pragmatic solution might be to simply slow and avoid the worst of it

At the front of the fleet Spain’s Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez got to within 25 miles today of the long time race leader MAPFRE. The leading duo are nicely placed on the southern side of a progressive high pressure system which is allowing them a classical arc up to the NE to respect the second ice gate of the Pacific without having to worry about manoeuvres, simply having to sail fast towards the same target. As an instructive insight into the relative speeds of the 2007 generation former Foncia, built prior to the IMOCA Rule’s power cap, and the latest generation design, and of course the sailors potential, this is proving a thrilling encounter which is due to continue for a few days more at least. 

It was a triumphant but difficult passage through ‘home’ waters for the Barcelona World Race’s only Kiwi, Andy Meiklejohn who passed through the Cook Strait today, feeling a real mix of different emotions.

Hugo Boss at Wellington NZ , Cook Strait (Photo by Chris Cameron)

Hugo Boss at Wellington NZ , Cook Strait (Photo by Chris Cameron)

On the one hand Meiklejohn was feeling devastated and helpless at the earthquake which hit Christchurch, on the other he was intensely proud to be bringing the powerful Hugo Boss past Wellington, foregoing any technical stopover.

Having started the race with stand-in co-skipper Wouter Verbraak the duo have sailed a smart race so far, rising to seventh place, and now within 650 miles of the race’s podium. Alex Thomson was on the water off Wellington with technical manager Ross Daniel to greet the two co-skippers on the wet, bumpy ride past the capital.

“ We have had a tough time of the last seven weeks with several issues forcing us to be slower than optimal, this was also after a very light exit to the Med, conditions that the heaviest boat in the fleet definitely did not like.”Wrote Meiklejohn, “Wouter and I have managed to pool together our resources, our common strength and the belief  and with the support of Alex and our shore team to keep the yacht in the race, and here we are just 400 miles behind 4th place and the battle begins again.”

“ Our troubles however are insignificant compared to the disaster that has just hit the Christchurch region of New Zealand.  This is an area with incredible pride and emotional toughness.  They boast an unrivaled sporting success through their Cricket teams, netball teams and the All-conquering Crusaders rugby outfit who have dominated southern hemisphere rugby for the last 15 years.”

“ So it’s with real sadness that I sail up Cook Strait in sight of home, its hard to feel excited when there are so many people feeling so much pain.  Its great to celebrate what we do and getting to the halfway stage is an achievement in itself but it pales in comparison to what happens in the real world.  It’s a real mix of emotions that’s hard to contain and harder to put down in words.  We Kiwis are brought up to be hardened to tragedy and sadness but sometimes it doesn’t feel right, sometimes there’s a bigger picture.”

“ Christchurch, our thoughts are with you.  Look after each other, give those you don’t know a hug or a helping hand, it’s with that bond that you will once again pull through and, like the phoenix, rise again.”

Rankings at 1400hrs Wednesday 23rd February 2011

 1              VIRBAC-PAPREC 3  at 10076 miles to finish

2              MAPFRE 38 miles from the leader

3              RENAULT Z.E at 812 miles

4               NEUTROGENA at  940  miles

5              MIRABAUD at 1066  miles

6              GROUPE BEL at  1278 miles

7              ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 1282 miles

8              HUGO BOSS at 1454 miles

9              GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1482 miles

10            FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 2966 miles

11            CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 3284 miles

12            WE ARE WATER at 3900 miles

RTD         FONCIA

RTD         PRESIDENT

Quotes:

Alex Thomson (GBR) Alex Thomson Racing Team/Hugo Boss: “ It was amazing to go out there and see the boat and see the guys, a bit weird in a lot of ways, but the guys were in great spirits, the boat looked fantastic and I just feel very proud of what they have achieved so far in a very difficult set of circumstances. They continue to stay positive and are really looking forwards at the possibilities.

The mast track problem means they can’t currently sail with the mainsail above the first reef. So basically upwind in anything less than 17 knots of wind they are compromised, going slower, and downwind in anything less than 22 knots they are going slower. So the boat is definitely not being sailed to its potential, but when you look at the options to stop or not – losing 48 hours, potentially nearly a 1000 miles – when there is the possibility of them doing the repair on board was too difficult for them to bear, and if I was in the same situation I would have made the same choice.

We went out and were alongside them for about half an hour and both Ross, our operations manager, and I had a happy conversation with them for about half an hour on the VHF, lots of laughing and joking, them suggesting I get a hair cut. It was fun, but it was also difficult: Andy and I had planned to be doing this race together so for both of us it was probably a bit strange, but I think that the reality is that the guys are in the groove, they have worked together brilliantly, they have formed a great partnership. Their place is on the boat and my place is on the land on this one. That is just a fact.

It is a difficult one. The guys speak to our team every day, sometimes more than once a day, but usually it is about media stuff, or about technical matters: the media stuff does not involve me and my forte is not the technical side, so I am acting as a bit of a supporter really, a little bit of a mentor really. It is kind of strange and I feel at a bit of a loose end at times. But I have accepted the situation but today it was real proof to me that I feel good about the situation, There is nothing I can do about it. I can be happy about where they are that they are fighting and they are doing a great job.”

Kito de Pavant (FRA) / Sebastien Audigane (FRA) on Groupe Bell At Cook Strait (Photo by Chris Cameron / DPPI / Barcelona World Race)

Kito de Pavant (FRA) / Sebastien Audigane (FRA) on Groupe Bell At Cook Strait (Photo by Chris Cameron / DPPI / Barcelona World Race)

Kito de Pavant (FRA), Groupe Bel:“Fifty years old, it is the fourth Cape of this round the world race for me. I am not feeling very birthday. We did not have very much time to prepare anything because we were a bit preoccupied in Wellington, there was a lot of work to do. The weather conditions before we stopped were not so good, and we have lost a lot of time. And so the festivities have gone by the by. It is not that important, especially with a cyclone which is approaching, and we don’t really know which way to to deal with the problem: either by the south or by the north. What we do know it that it lies right on our course. It is a pretty violent and unpleasant character, not what you want for your birthday. The cyclone brings with it a lot of rain, a lot of wind, and big seas. The sea, especially will be huge and the winds might be 70-80kts. It is a small but very compact phenomenon which can damage the boat, very risky.

Wisest would be to leave it to the north but that does not take us towards Cape Horn. And of course if it gets dangerous then we would just turn and avoid the worst of the waves.

The difficult conditions should not last very long, 24 hours maybe and then after that we should have some strong winds which should allow us to go quickly towards the ice gates. The Spanish crew are just behind, we can see their lights. It is reassuring to be with them facing the same things. But the truth is that in such circumstances the second boat would not be able to do too much. We ate together yesterday evening and it would be good if we remained together until Barcelona.

It took us a few weeks to get into the rhythm of the race and now you feel like its starting again from zero. We have enjoyed the comforts ashore and so now it is not so easy to set out again. And the 48 hour stopover is not good, it is too long or too short. But this is a curious birthday, because as we pass the date-line I will have two birthdays!

Pepe Ribes (ESP) Estrella Damm:“We have Groupe Bel about a mile away and it will eb good to sail with someone again as a reference. The passage of the Atu cyclone will be very complicated and neither Alex nor I have ever been confronted by such strong winds and I don’t really know what it will do to us and we are worried to look after the boat. We have been looking at if for a while and still don’t know how we will cross it.

Our morale is not so high and so we must get back to the feelings we had and stop thinking about were we were in the race and what has happened to us. We need to get back into that mind set because the race is only half way.”

 (Photo By CHRIS CAMERON / DPPI / BARCELONA WORLD RACE)

(Photo By CHRIS CAMERON / DPPI / BARCELONA WORLD RACE)

Happy Valentines from Dee and Anna

Happy Valentines from Dee and Anna

Dee and Anna are spending what is considered to be the most romantic day of the year in one of the most remote and hostile places on the planet, the Southern Ocean. However, the all female duo onboard GAES Centros Auditivos are keen to hold true to the Valentines tradition of chasing boys as their pursuit of Andy Meiklejohn & Wouter Verbraak aboard Hugo Boss continues. Having relinquished eighth position to Hugo Boss late last week, the GAES girls have been battling hard to keep the gap between them to a minimum as they seek an opportunity to regain a position in the rankings.

As the fleet have dipped further into the Southern Hemisphere the perils of round the world racing became more apparent when two additional ice gates were introduced to the Barcelona World Race at the end of last month. The ice gate that marked the bottom of the South Atlantic was moved further north to keep the IMOCA Open 60’s away from the worst of the area of ice and another gate was added just to the east of South Africa. The boats are required to pass at least one point to the north of each gate and with the race taking place so late in the southern hemisphere summer it is likely that ice presence will continue to affect the course resulting in more of the gates moving further north. This in turn will increase the distance the boats have to travel making this a longer race than originally anticipated.

Dee and Anna are currently heading towards the south of Cape Leeuwin on the west coast of Australia. The duo’s latest video reveals the topsy turvy life they are experiencing ‘down under’.

Elsewhere in the race Virbac-Paprec 3 continues to lead the fleet with Mapfre second and Estrella Damm third in the Barcelona World Race. At the 0900hrs ranking today, Caffari and Corbella onboard GAES Centros Auditivos were in 9th place, 120 miles behind Andy Meiklejohn & Wouter Verbraak on Hugo Boss.

Forum Maritim Catala In The Indian Ocean (Photo by FMC)

Forum Maritim Catala In The Indian Ocean (Photo by FMC)

The leading group of the Barcelona World Race may be ready to reflect on their passage across an unusually lenient south Indian Ocean but the tail enders of the fleet have been dealing with a punishment which is more perhaps more typical.

The top five boats will already be considering their passage to the Cook Straits which looks set to be influenced by the timing of a high pressure system which may give favour to the second and third placed MAPFRE and Estrella Damm, cost some miles to the leaders Virbac-Paprec 3, and possibly more to Groupe Bel and Renault ZE Sailing Team.

But while their problems, with one known exception, are largely mathematical – evaluating gains and losses, reducing risk and exposure, the three teams at the back of the fleet were well into a strong low pressure system. For most of the Spanish crews this will be their first real experience of stormy conditions since passing into the Indian Ocean.

“The windspeed indicator does not drop below 45 knots and at the moment it is topping 53. In these conditions it is a real battle to get the mainsail down.? Reported Gerard Marín from Fòrum Marítim Català this afternoon .

The laughing cow, on the horns of a dilemma?

Kito De Pavant and Seb Audigane on Groupe Bel, the laughing cow, are caught on the horns of a dilemma. To pit-stop or not to pit-stop?

That is their question which they and their team need to evaluate having today revealed that they have been sailing without two key sails – their big gennaker and heavy kite – since before the Cape Verde islands.  De Pavant’s team reported that the first incident happened 29 days ago, when the fleet leaders were sailing fast in strong NE’ly trade winds.

The boat is reported to have luffed violently damaging the big gennaker which was rendered unusable. They continued under heavy spinnaker which they damaged the next day. De Pavant explains subsequently that they no longer have the ideal downwind and reaching sails for the wind range 15-25 knots. They are understood to be considering a technical stop, possibly in New Zealand. Any stop after leaving the Indian Ocean must be of a mandatory minimum of 48 hours. Teams can carry up to 10 officially measured sails which. Up to 60 percent of a damaged sail can be replaced.

From having been in sight of Estrella Damm over recent days Groupe Bel has steadily dropped back to be nearly 200 miles behind the third placed Spanish boat this evening, De Pavant considering that Groupe Bel has been up to 20% below her usual polar speeds compared with Estrella Damm.

Swiss Timing

Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre was given to comment on the unfortunate timing which has been certainly been precise, but very unfortunate. Each time he and Michèle Paret  have come north to satisfy a gate of the course they have been unlucky enough to be slowed by high pressure, whilst others have been much more blessed. Neutrogena have been dealt the same cards. Mirabaud was slowed to under 8 knots at times today but the sixth and seventh placed boats were joining a fast moving low pressure this afternoon.

And the catch up continues for Estrella Damm, this afternoon just 13 miles from passing MAPFRE for second who have been consistently slower than their usual selves, while Hugo Boss had cut the lead of GAES Centros Auditivos to 17 miles and remain around one knot quicker. Virbac-Paprec 3 leads MAPFRE by 526 miles.

 

Anna Corbella on GAES with new friend (Photo by BWR / GAES)

Anna Corbella on GAES with new friend (Photo by BWR / GAES)

Standings at 1400hrs UTC Wednesday 9th February 2011

1              VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at13721,4 miles to the finish

2              MAPFRE at526,6 miles to the leader

3              ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at539,4 miles

4              GROUPE BEL at731,7 miles

5              RENAULT Z.E at1042,4 miles

6              MIRABAUD at1578,3 miles

7              NEUTROGENA at1676,4 miles

8              GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at2210,3 miles

9              HUGO BOSS at2227 miles

10            FORUM MARITIM CATALA at3279,9 miles

12            CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at3548,8 miles

RTD        FONCIA

RTD        PRESIDENT

 

Andy Meiklejohn (NZL) and Wouter Verbraak (NED), HUGO BOSS: “ We are fast reaching, surfing safari Southern Ocean style. It is fast reaching, very wet, the boat accelerates quickly to 25-26 knots. The cloud cover is cleared and we have blue skies and sunshine, water is 17 degrees. It is really enjoyable hand steering in the waves trying to maximise every mile we have. We have the guys from Hugo Boss Germany on line as well.

It is hard to stay on top of time of day when you are moving so far east, but we try to make it work by always having breakfast when the sun rises and then go from there.

We have had an amazing couple of days, really fun to properly race the boat always looking for the protection and finding a nice balance. One thing we have learned is that there are more gears on this boat, some daggerboard, sails, and we have been really creative in finding new gears, and being fast. The weather has helped and that has helped us catch, but even now we are getting closer and we are still catching. It is looking good. Rumour has it the girls have some nice red wine and toast so we can really close and get a nice platter from them.!?

Alex Pella (ESP), Estrella Damm:”We have gybed before them (MAPFRE). We caught up a lot. The truth is that we are going super fast in the Indian Ocean. We have had almost four days with good winds,  reaching and downwind in the right direction for eating miles. We spent nearly three days fighting with Groupe Bel and now we see stretching. We do our stuff and by now it is perfect. Pepe drives the boat very well and I really enjoy my watches as well. I hope it keeps like that for a long time!

I think we will pass quite quickly the Australian barrier. After that, a front comes with a low, probably the strongest wind so far, but that will be in two or three days. At the moment I think the crossing of the barrier will be very clean.
We are very excited. We are third and the boat is performing very well. We would have signed being across Cape Leeuwin in this situation. We will soon have a new opportunity to toast with beer, which will now be chillier. The waves are large and crossed. We used to have the wind on the side and the wave n the back and now downwind and wave at the side. Recently the sky was gray and it rained a little, but now it’s been cleared and it’s a beautiful day in the Indian.

It would be nice to get second, but we have not done even half the race and we must keep our feet on the ground. What is important is that we are good and the boat as well and we are eating and resting well in order to keep moving forward. ”

Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret moving sails inside MIRABAUD (Photo by Th.Martinez/Mirabaud)

Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret moving sails inside MIRABAUD (Photo by Th.Martinez/Mirabaud)

Dominique Wavre (SUI) Mirabaud:“Every time when we have gone towards an ice gate we have been met with an anticyclone. We have managed to get away from Neutrogena and this time they are behind. Since the start we have arrived at the worse times, bad luck I suppose and the saving grace I suppose is that we have shared our bad luck cards with Neutrogena.

But we had some brilliant times before we got planted into another anticyclone. The conditions are not too tough. With the position of the ice gates we flirt with the anticyclones rather than the depressions. And so it goes quite tamely compared with my past  memories. But physically we are tired all the same. We have so many maneuvers and changes to make because of the anticyclones and they are more stressful than good depressions with stable winds.

We stick to French time on the boat so that we don’t wake people on land when we need to communicate. We adapt our sleep pattern because effective, deep sleep is most effective at night and so we try to adapt to that.

Our personal hygiene is not ideal. I have not shaved for a week and I’ve not had time to. With everything going on then that slides down the agenda.

When we were north of Kerguelen I recalled being there after my keel problem in the last Vendée Globe, to bring the boat 2500 miles was really stressful and one of the worst memories of my life. But now the keel system is much more reliable and it feels so much safer to be racing with Michèle.?

Group Bel (Photo courtesy of BWR / Groupe Bel)

Group Bel (Photo courtesy of BWR / Groupe Bel)

Kito De Pavant (FRA) Groupe Bel:“We have been sailing close hauled a lot, and we’ve been running downwind in either a very strong or weak wind, which enabled us to continue at a good pace

On the other hand, in the last few days, everything got back to normal with a fair wind of about twenty knots, and this is when the gennaker has been lacking. We are 20% below Groupe Bel’s performance. Conclusion, Estrella Damm which we were sailing in view of less than a week ago, has flown away 100 miles ahead of us.?
“Today, there is nothing vital that requires us to stop? Kito analyses. “We will make our decision as soon as we have a precise idea of the weather conditions around New Zealand, which may or may not favor a pitstop, and which might penalize us in relation to our contenders. It is also possible that other crews are currently considering the same question. The race is far from over…?

Estrella Damm (Photo courtesy of BWR / Estrella Damm)

Estrella Damm (Photo courtesy of BWR / Estrella Damm)

 

A View into the doghouse on Groupe Bel ( Photo courtesy of Barcelona World Race / Groupe Bel )

A View into the doghouse on Groupe Bel ( Photo courtesy of Barcelona World Race / Groupe Bel )

Who of those towards the back of the Barclelona World Race fleet would swap their unfortunate reality and certainty for the high stress and uncertainty which leaders Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron appeared to be facing over the next few days as they look set to deal with a difficult, active subtropical low pressure system?

Duos like Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak on Hugo Boss and Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella on GAES Centros Auditivos, who were all joined through this morning’s Barcelona World Race Visio-Conference, are trying to come to terms with the weather cards they have been dealt, initially: a hand offering at least two or three days of upwind sailing and surely more.

In contrast, with a lead of 589 miles this afternoon over second placed MAPFRE, Dick sounded slightly anxious this morning as he admitted they were still not clear on the timing of, or how they will deal with the muscular low pressure which is threatening them. 

He and co-skipper Peyron have been making optimal use of their time in slacker breezes, making just 12 knots this afternoon in light upwind conditions, by reviewing the weather files as they get them, preparing the boat, rig and equipment for the big blow and sleeping and eating as much as they can.

For those who are getting used to the idea that their domain will be slamming upwind at an angle for days to come rather than surfing downwind, there is more to deal with mentally than simply considering how their endurance and patience will be tested.

For sure there will be also now be some bigger gaps in the fleet developing and overall duration of their race is likely to be greater than anticipated.

Ryan Breymaierand Boris Herrmann expressed a certain satisfaction in having got back to within 44 or so miles of sixth placed Mirabaud yesterday but they are snared this afternoon in calms which have seen them making less than a two knots average, losing 28 miles this afternoon alone. And Caffari confirmed that their aggregate losses could accumulate to five or six hundred miles.

Under such circumstances the duos solidarity as a unit will be tested, as will their discipline and humour. Hugo Boss’ Wouter ‘The Router’ Verbraak joked this morning that they simply discard the forecasts they don’t like the look of and resort to another cup of tea, before getting on with the job to the best of their ability, while Caffari stated starkly and simply:

“It sucks”

Joined by video link with We Are Water’s Barcelona skipper Cali Sanmarti who celebrated his 42nd birthday today, Anna Corbella warned her friend Cali, both former Mini class skippers, not to start ‘robbing the food bags’ a mistake which, when all the treats are used up too early, can make the final stage of the circumnavigation especially tedious.

From second placed MAPFRE Iker Martinez compared previous life in these latitudes on the fully crewed Volvo Ocean Race with the different kind of stress and tiredness, racing as a duo for the first time on an IMOCA Open 60, which they seem to have adapted to well.

“ These boats anyway are designed for downwind, so they are rather uncomfortable, in fact to speak now I am wedged on the floor, it is uncomfortable and even dangerous. The Volvo is intense but over shorter periods. But the IMOCA can be slower and more difficult over short periods – during manoeuvres. We have no heating on board, a choice which seemed nice but we decided not to because of the fuel we would have needed. The way we sail is very different to the Volvo. The Volvo is a bit like being in the army with 10 guys. This is totally different with just the two of us, we sleep little but in the Volvo we sleep for longer periods. Here is it is 30 minutes, an hour maybe two.”Explained Martinez today.

Meantime Président’s Jean Le Cam continues to follow the Barcelona World Race closely, speaking out in complete support of the ice-gates:

“ Combined with the complicated weather patterns in this part of the world which are going to complicate things for the competitors adding a touch of spice to the race, that is why I would like to say well done to the race director….”Le Cam commented.

VIrbac Paprec 3  (Photo  by Yann Zedda)

VIrbac Paprec 3 (Photo by Yann Zedda)

Rankings on Monday 31 January at 1400hrs UTC

1              VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 16 868,8 miles to finish

2              MAPFRE at 589 miles to the leader

3              ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 706,3 miles

4              GROUPE BEL at 727 miles

5              RENAULT Z.E at 874,5 miles

6              MIRABAUD at 1232,8 miles

7              NEUTROGENA at 1321,9 miles

8              GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1555,5 miles

9              HUGO BOSS at 1931,8 miles

10            CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 2016,7 miles

11            WE ARE WATER at 2026,7 miles

12            FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 2141,3 miles

ABN         FONCIA

ABN         PRESIDENT

Quotes

Alex Pella (ESP) Estrella Damm:“ We are now sailing on starboard with little wind, about 8 knots from SW, heading 80 and doing 9-10 knots of boat speed. We spent the night with the genoa and with almost no wind. We believe that everyone in the group will be affected by this calm, but MAPFRE seems to have more wind up North so let’s see if it does not escape too far. Wind is heading and it seems we’ll sail upwind for a good while.
It is sunny; we have about 13 degrees and lots of birds around. We have just seen a whale.

Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes (Photo courtesy of Estrella Damm / Barcelona World Race )

Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes (Photo courtesy of Estrella Damm / Barcelona World Race )

The review of the first month is very positive. We are in the fight. We had very good moments. The Mediterranean went very well, we just had some bad luck after leaving it. The descent of the Azores high was very successful and the doldrums went perfect. When the two boats ahead stopped in Recife we became first.

Then in the descent of the Atlantic we were not good, we made mistakes and we were stopped with a bit of bad luck and the fleet came on us. We took the brunt of the fleet in this option.
Now after passing Agulhas we are fine but the places have been compressed. The boats are very engaged. We hope MAPFRE does not escape.”
“ In one month we have tried to minimize wear of the boat and ours: we are trying to stick with the watches and eat properly, we look after each other, the boat does not have any serious problems, only broke a wind wand and replaced it and the hydros are not charging much as we would like but they are all little things so for now everything is fine.
I think we understood very well the race: It seems there is much ahead, maybe more than two months, and we are sailing calmer trying to ensure the material. We believe it is likely that there are more abandons and we will try to be among the boats to arrive to Barcelona.”
“ The worst moment was the passage of Santa Helena High, when we missed the front and the fleet came upon us. It was a difficult time for the moral, but it is past now.
And the best moments were undoubtedly passing through the Doldrums and getting first. On a personal level is now one of the best times to be in the Deep South for the first time. We’re feeling very comfortable and I am loving it to sail here. It will be much longer than I thought because the ice gates have been moved far to the north and we’ll pass through many transitions, which will make the race much slower”

Dee Caffari (GBR) GAES Centros Auditivos:“Let’s put a reality check on this! We are in the Southern Ocean going upwind, it is just ridiculous. Burt we can’ stay miserable and we have to try remain positive because we have got like three days of this, and it would actually be easier to stop in South Africa and have a party and then go again when the weather is nice, so we really are looking for positives from this.

But it sucks, I went the other way around the world and went upwind, now I am going this way and am upwind. Everyone promised it should be downwind. Something is seriously wrong. This not what we signed up for in the brochure for the Barcelona World Race.”

Andy Meiklejohn (NZL) and Wouter Verbraak (NED), Hugo Boss: “ The weather model this morning I have thrown in the rubbish bin. Oeverur philosophy in this race is that the glass is always half full, so when we get a bad weather model like this we just say that it never happened. We go have a cup of tea and hope it goes away.

We need that kind of inspiration, those are great stories when you are a young fellow and that is what heroes are made out of, that what shows a lot of character. Mike showed a lot of character starting a week behind everybody having broken his mast, and came through and set a fast time. That is the kind of spirit we are trying to keep going. We have had some set backs, but we are just keeping on looking forward to the race continuing, us doing our jobs as best we can, and we will try and pull some places back.

We promised Dee that we were coming to catch her two weeks ago, now we are going to make sure we keep that promise.” 

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Virbac-Paprec 3:“Just now we will have calms then some wind today but on February 1st we will see quite a lot of wind. The conditions this morning are a little better than yesterday evening but it is a bit alarming because there is a lot of wind coming from the north. We have two objectives, to try and pass the Crozet gate and to then try and get down to the next gate without too much wind and seas which are not too extreme.

We are spending a lot of time and energy trying to understand what will come down to us. It is a big depression coming down from Madagascar which comes with a warm tropical air which is mixed with the cold air. It looks malicious. We are trying to rest as much as possible and prepare the boat and gear for this big wind.

Whatever, it is a sort of stress because we don’t know what will happen and we need to make somemanoeuvresin the big weather that will be stressful. The boats are really pushed in these conditions and at times like that we are’ sailing on eggs’. The Indian is quite wild and these are unstable winds and very active fronts. I hope that it all goes well.

Compared to what we have been through (down here) before it is a bit different. We are more in the north, at 42 degrees, and the depressions we get will be strong with wild conditions.  I believe the Indian Ocean is more challenging with very young depressions, with very aggressive with northerly winds or very strong from the south.”

Tomorrow’s LIVE VISIO CONFERENCE (1000hrs UTC on wwww.barcelonaworldrace.org) with the fleet will include guest Mike Golding (GBR), Dominique Wavre on Mirabaud, Dee Caffari on GAES Centros Auditivos, Central LecheraAsturiana,Estrella Damm

Neutrogena (Photo courtesy of Barcelona World Race / Neutrogena)

Neutrogena (Photo courtesy of Barcelona World Race / Neutrogena)