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Barcelona World Race: What’s Cooking for the Straits?

As Virbrac Paprec 3 crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin this morning at around 1010hrs UTC, the leading French pair were moving at more modest speeds seeing their record lead ebbing again as the chasing trio catch up steady miles.

For Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron they are simply at the mercy of the more benign conditions as they transit the second Australian safety barrier, but the leading team have shed 100 miles to the pursuing trinity, MAPFRE, Estrella Damm and Groupe Bel since yesterday.

But 100 miles may be an unavoidable daily expenditure in these parts, when the pursuing trio are still in the strong low pressure system winds while the leaders are pressed north by the safety gate, forced to flirt with the vagaries of the high pressure system above them which will station itself in the Australian Bight.

Whether these losses will increase or decrease in the Tasman and across to New Zealand seems to be the big question of the moment. The weather situation changes almost daily as the different winds meet, the overheated air masses toasted by Australia’s deserts, and the cold polar air which rushes up from the south at any small opportunity.

One current weather model certainly paints a difficult scenario for Virbac-Paprec 3, one where they are forced to stay south as long as possible as they move east with a high pressure, while there might be the opportunity for the chasing trio to sail a much more direct route and save many miles.

But the forecasts are a moveable feast at the moment, and certainly contrasted with what leading skippers Dick and Peyron suggested they are looking forward to. They sounded convinced they would have a brisk blow in the near future and a fairly straightforward passage up to the iconic straits which bisect New Zealand and which – of the leading four boats only Dick has raced through with the Barcelona World Race before.

“The Cook Straits are always a piece of magic at the end of a month and a half at sea. You are dirty and missing lots of things and you pass through the strait in New Zealand where life is cool. There are high speed motor boats which pass and the fact that you are just passing through is always a bit of a wrench. To see people, human life beside you is rather magical. With the mountains it is magnificent, majestic, really impressive. But then you have to plunge into the Pacific. It is a very unique moment though, but also it can be quite violent. But it should be moderate, passing through in the middle of summer and so it should be a bit less risky.”  Dickprofiled today,

With the group of three it is Estrella Damm, Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes who are pushing second placed MAPFRE relentlessly, now within 23 miles of the Spanish Olympic medalists, who are the quickest on this afternoon’s rankings.

At close to 40 days at sea there is a certain core race fitness and sharpness which starts to be called on, a stamina which is maintained now by careful management.

Visibly it is almost built in for the likes of veteran Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret, or Dee Caffari who sailed solo the wrong way around the world in 178 days, but has had to be progressively learned by the young IMOCA Open 60 rookies Ryan Breymaier and Boris Herrmann.

Breymaier admitted today that they have modulated their ideas about simply trying to put up the biggest sails for as long as they could hang on to them, and now – rested and revived after a few intense days of fast sailing and repairs – the duo are sticking hard to the wake of Wavre and Paret’s Mirabaud.

“Forty days is like ten days is like 20 days, is like 60 days. None of it feels any different. We are all good and feel good too.”Said Caffari today.

For the trio at the rear of the fleet the next few days will be their most challenging of the race yet, one offering big opportunities in a fast moving low pressure system which start by giving them some very difficult conditions, for many of them their first big south Indian Ocean blow:

We Are Water’s Jaume Mumbru explained: “We have a monster behind which will reach us tonight. We expect 60 knots winds and eight metres  waves. The wind will be polar, very cold, and the water like ice. We are preparing all out safety gear, harnesses, we hope to be ready to ride out the storm.  We hope this powerful westerly wind will give us the chance to make some inroads and make some good runs. We have to be on high alert and monitor the changes all the time..”

Rankings at 1400hrs UTC Tuesday 08th Feburary

  1. VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 13992,4 miles to finish
  2. MAPFRE at 670 miles to leader
  3. ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 693,9 miles
  4. GROUPE BEL at 810,7 miles
  5. RENAULT Z.E at 1133,4 miles
  6. MIRABAUD at 1565,8 miles
  7. NEUTROGENA at 1605,4 miles
  8. GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 2305,4 miles
  9. HUGO BOSS at 2354,4 miles
  10. FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 3293,9 miles
  11. WE ARE WATER at 3467,5 miles
  12. CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 3633,4 miles

ABN FONCIA
ABN PRESIDENT

Quotes
Loick Peyron (FRA), Virbac-Paprec 3: “There was not even the time to check on the passing at Leeuwin. There are always so many things to do on board, cleaning, fixing, drying things, we checked thins around the boat and have a nap and that is all part of the general organization. I was considering when to shave the beard. I’m looking a bit like Father Christmas. Jean Pierre’s is a bit more random, like an ibex.

It is not so very fast at the moment, but the conditions are due to get windier. There will lots of things to do and be ready with for sail changes. The conditions we expect will be quite tough. We are looking forward to the passage of the Cook Strait, but before that you never really can be sure what will happen. But being at the front does not really influence how we sail. We are a little more careful and conservative in themanoeuvres. On the other hand we push hard all the time but slow down when we feel we have to.”

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Virbac-Paprec 3: “The Cook Straits are always a piece of magic at the end of a month and a half at sea. You are dirty and missing lots of things and you pass through the strait in New Zealand where life is cool. There are high speed motor boats which pass and the fact that you are just passing through is always a bit of a wrench. To see people, human life beside you is rather magical. With the mountains it is magnificent, majestic, really impressive. But then you have to plunge into the Pacific. It is a very unique moment though, but also it can be quite violent. But it should be moderate, passing through in the middle of summer and so it should be a bit less risky.”

Ryan Breymaier (USA) Neutrogena: “We are definitely feeling better these days. We have got all the work done on the boat and got over all the problems we had on the boat recently and we have been sleeping rather than gluing things back together or driving the boat, while the other glues things back together. And that has a positive impact on us. We are thinking more clearly, making smarter decisions, and sailing faster.

I feel stronger all the time, I feel like I don’t really need to weigh as much as I sometimes do and all the work we do has certainly improved my fitness.”

Dee Caffari (GBR) GAES Centros Auditivos: “Forty days is like ten days is like 20 days, is like 60 days. None of it feels any different. We live in our own little world. But two days ago we had a problem with our sleep. It is not dark for very long. It is daylight until after midnight and we got out of synch with our sleep patterns a little bit. But we are good and feeling pretty good as well.”

Photo Credit: MAPFRE © Maria Muiña

Tags on NauticNews: Barcelona World RaceOpen 60 IMOCA

More details: www.barcelonaworldrace.org

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