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BWR: High pressure in the Southern Ocean

Published on January 31st, 2015

(January 31, 2015; Day 32) – Cheminées Poujoulat has passed the Kerguelen Islands as Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam continue to lead the Southern Ocean charge in the Barcelona World Race. The duo were just over 300 miles north of the largest island of Kerguelen at 1400hrs this afternoon.

Despite being in the very centre of the Indian Ocean at nearly 44°S, Cheminées Poujoulat was sailing at just 6-7 knots as the lead boat entered a zone of high pressure which will see the south-westerly winds they have been reaching in head and fade, becoming more easterly and unstable.

Second placed Neutrogena, meanwhile, remains within stronger south-westerlies and has averaged over 16 knots over the course of this morning. Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz are currently around 185 miles to the north-west of Cheminées Poujoulat, and likely to pass the Kerguelen islands some 18 hours behind.

However, the situation may complicate for the leading pairs over the next three or four days, with a tropical cyclonic system (formerly Diamondra) still potentially tracking across their course, with 50-55 knot winds.

Guillermo explained this morning: “We’re looking all the time at what happens in the next three days, because it’s going to be quite complicated. There’s a low pressure and a tropical cyclone which is going to start to give us gusts, or the track will go to the east, and it’s going to be in front of us so we have to negotiate this low pressure in the right way because it’s going to be quite extreme conditions close to the centre. So the more important thing in the next few days is to navigate this high pressure and tropical cyclone.”

A second high pressure system also continues to make its impact felt for third-placed GAES Centros Auditivos, who are back up to 8-9 knots but have shed a further 75 miles to the leaders in the past 24 hours.

Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin’s losses are Jorg Riechers and Sebastien Audigane’s gains. Renault Captur has benefitted from around 1,000 miles of straight line fast sailing the past few days, and is now around 300 miles behind GAES Centros Au ditivos, compared to over 500 miles at this point last week.

This is Jorg’s first race in the ‘Deep South’, and the Indian Ocean is so far giving him a fairly gentle introduction. However, this may be something of a false sense of security from the Southern Oceans, and Renault Captur will also begin to feel the effects of the imminent high pressure system shortly, and can expect boat speeds to slow in the next 24 hours.

Jorg commented: “We’ve got 17 knots of windspeed, 10 degrees of temperature, no waves, calm, it’s really pleasant!”

Asked if the Southern Ocean sailing was what he expected, he answered: “At the moment, not really. Because everyone says it’s cold, it’s miserable, it’s big waves. And we had that at the beginning, I think it was five days ago, we had it a little bit like that, 5m waves and windy and cold. But after then it’s been more sunny, it was warm, it was not like you expect the Indian Ocean to be. So I expect there will still come some tough moments, with big wind speeds, high waves, and all the subjects you’d expect in the Southern Ocean.”

Spirit of Hungary in seventh suffered another set back when what initially appeared to be a small leak damaged the circuit boards which control the keel ram. Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman have been able to rewire the circuit to create a solution, and avoid a Cape Town pit-stop. They have also each set a new personal best, sailing nearly 374 miles in 24 hours, Conrad writing from the boat: “Far from becoming despondent about our floating workshop I feel emboldened and invigorated by our daily capacity to turn curve balls into home runs.

“Almost forgotten in the midst of the our ‘oil up to the elbows’ moment is the fact that both Nandor and myself have set a new personal record for miles travelled in 24 hours. Considering that this time was spent working on the boat rather than pushing it attentively, we feel confident we will again better this before the race is over.”

Spirit of Hungary was this afternoon sailing at just over 16 knots, matching the average pace of the current fastest boat Neutrogena, some 2,700 miles ahead.

Ranking at 14:00 UTC:
1. Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm – Jean Le Cam) 15469.6 nm Distance to Finish
2. Neutrogena (Guillermo Altadill – Jose Muñoz) 190.1 nm Distance to Lead
3. GAES Centros Auditivos (Anna Corbella – Gerard Marin) 962.9 nm DTL
4. Renault Captur (Jörg Riechers – Sebastien Audigane) 1283.6 nm DTL
5. We Are Water (Bruno Garcia – Willy Garcia) 1900.2 nm DTL
6. One Planet One Ocean / Pharmaton (Aleix Gelabert – Didac Costa) 2401.1 nm DTL
7. Spirit of Hungary (Nandor Fa – Conrad Colman) 1901.5 nm DTL
Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson – Pepe Ribes) Abandon

TrackerEvent details

Report by event media.

Background: The third edition of the Barcelona World Race is the only double-handed, non-stop, round the world race. Eight IMOCA 60 teams started December 31, 2014, with the intent to cover 23,450 nautical miles in a circumnavigation from Barcelona to Barcelona, putting the capes of Good Hope (South Africa), Leeuwin (Australia) and Horn (Chile) to port and the Antarctic to starboard. The finishes are forecasted for the end of March 2015.

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