Barcelona World Race skippers tested in Indian Ocean

Published on February 5th, 2015

(February 5, 2015; Day 37) – To sail 15,000 miles around the Southern Ocean is a marathon achievement, and five weeks after they set off, the seven teams in the Barcelona World Race are acutely aware of the fact that they are not yet halfway. After the survival conditions of the low pressure system which threatened the leaders, and the hair-wrenchingly frustrating light winds which ensnared GAES Centros Auditivos, the Indian Ocean is now testing the 14 skippers’ endurance.

Cheminées Poujoulat was this morning sailing at 18 or 19 knots in 30-knot north-westerlies. Conditions have eased a couple of knots this afternoon, but look set to build back up to around 28-30 knots for their final push to the second ‘Great Cape’, Cape Leeuwin on the south-western tip of Australia, about 350 miles away. Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam are expected to reach the Cape tomorrow morning. Second-placed Neutrogena is shadowing the leaders at around 180 miles to the west, in slightly more westerly pressure.

For GAES Centros Auditivos and Renault Captur it has been a particularly demanding 48 hours, with both boats putting in an intense series of gybes in 25-knot westerlies. Gerard Marín explained on today’s video-conference that the race had changed from a mental challenge to a physical one:

“The regatta is very long and there are all kind of situations, both good ones and bad ones, and you need to accept that. Nowadays, what we have to do is start moving faster again, try to attack the ones in front of us and keep control of Renault Captur, who is not very far from us. But we are confident and if we sail correctly, we will keep going on.

“In a calm zone, obviously, you can rest as much as you want. In the last 24 hours we had strong winds and we could start moving faster and that’s a little stressful and we are hanging onto a bit of fatigue. I suppose that we will slowly get used to that rhythm and we expect it to not decrease. That’s our job from now on.”

Their nearest rivals, fourth-placed Renault Captur around 300 miles behind, are also locked into a punishing series of manoeuvres. Sebastien Audigane last night explained why the gybe was so demanding on a two-handed IMOCA 60:

“First, be sure that it’s worth it because the manoeuvre is hard work. Then, starting with the stack, i.e. shifting from left to right (or vice versa) all the stored gear: the sails, tools and spare parts, the personal kit, the food in 15kg bags (15 bags of it); a total of some 500kgs all-inclusive. Obviously downwind you have to keep the bags and sails at the back of the boat, in the bowels of Renault Captur, to prevent the boat from nose-diving into the waves. So, to be well organised, you can first count on doing a quarter of an hour of weight training.”

Fifth-placed We Are Water was this morning benefiting from some of the most stable conditions on the course, reaching in 18-20 knot north-westerlies. However, Bruno Garcia also spoke today about the challenges ahead:

“The next days we will, basically, have to deal with an active front from now and for the next 24 hours, because we are in the pre-frontal zone and we have some movement. The front is moving more than expected so it will be entertaining: a lot of wind, a lot of sea (waves) but I’m not complaining because although it’s upwind at least we will cover a lot of miles with it.”

One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton and Spirit of Hungary have spent much of the past 24 hours beating their way upwind. After a brief respite with some southerly breezes this morning, Didac Costa and Aleix Gelabert on One Planet One Ocean looked set to face more south-easterly headwinds and 4m waves this evening, while Spirit of Hungary has experienced near-constant 18-20 knots of easterlies, giving Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman more challenges to try their patience and boat maintenance skills.

Conrad reported: “We are currently bouncing our way over a lumpy sea upwind with fluky unstable winds, which is about as fast and exciting as being pulled down a bumpy cart track by a lame mule. Spirit of Hungary is enjoying the conditions almost as much as we are, banging on every wave and dipping the side of the deck in the water in the occasional gust.

“The thumping had flicked one set of wind instruments off the mast, leaving us with just the one backup for the rest of the way around the world!”

Ranking at 14:00 UTC:
1. Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm – Jean Le Cam) 13914.0 nm Distance to Finish
2. Neutrogena (Guillermo Altadill – Jose Muñoz) 189.5 nm Distance to Lead
3. GAES Centros Auditivos (Anna Corbella – Gerard Marin) 1145.2 nm DTL
4. Renault Captur (Jörg Riechers – Sebastien Audigane) 1432.7 nm DTL
5. We Are Water (Bruno Garcia – Willy Garcia) 2014.5 nm DTL
6. One Planet One Ocean / Pharmaton (Aleix Gelabert – Didac Costa) 2660.1 nm DTL
7. Spirit of Hungary (Nandor Fa – Conrad Colman) 3126.6 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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