Virbac-Paprec 3 in ‘ghost’ mode
We Are Water prepare for the worst case scenario
Renault Z.E. third into northern hemisphere
‘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 the hatches
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.
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
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 almost impossible for some.
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.?
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
RTD GROUPE BEL
Quotes from today’s skippers:
Dee Caffari (GBR), GAES Centros Auditivos:
“It’s like a practice for the Doldrums that we’ve had. It’s a bit frustrating because we still can’t sail the boat at 100 per cent because we’re waiting to do the big repair, and yet we’re still really struggling with the conditions. But today’s been much better.
“I need to laminate some carbon over some damage in our ballast tanks that are structural to the boat. So we can’t sail the boat at 100 per cent because we’re upwind and we can’t afford the cracks to open up. But we can’t do the repair unless we’re in flat water to allow it to stick, so it’s a case of really looking after the boat.?
Ryan Breymaier (USA), Neutrogena:
“The Doldrums are going very well thus far, knock on wood. We have between 5 and 10 knots out of the breeze and it’s not stopped yet, so hopefully that continues.
“In these lighter conditions we’re not as compromised as we will be later on when there’s more wind and waves, so we’re pretty happy to be keeping up now and are differently worried about what’s going to happen when we get into the stronger upwind trade wind conditions a little later on. There is no real plan for it, the boat is the condition that it’s in and we do the best we can with what we have. At the moment that’s what we’re doing and that’s what we’re going to continue to do – you know you can’t change reality, and the reality is we are not capable to cant the keel to the maximum and that compromises our speed all the time, Boris and I have accepted that and we just get on with our day to day work.
“The sun is an issue every day. Right now in the cabin it’s 32 degrees and outside it’s probably 36, I don’t know – a lot! For me more than Boris I get burned very easily and I have factor 50 suncream at least every day and wear hats and that kind of stuff, so it’s a real problem for sure, especially in this area. I would’ve told you six weeks ago that the heat really bothered me a lot, but it was awfully cold down in the south for a long period of time! But all things considered though I would say the heat is worse than the cold though, and I think Boris agrees with me.?
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
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.”
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.
“ 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.
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
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), 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.”
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 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.
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
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 (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.?
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…?
It was a significant moment for Loïck Peyron and Jean-Pierre Dick when they passed through the Amsterdam gate and set a fast course yesterday for the Australian barrier, signifying the end of a bone-shaking ride in confused seas and the chance to open the gap again on the pack which are pursuing the long time Barcelona World Race leaders.
Indeed the weekend programme for the race leaders, could be a diet of ‘champagne sailing’ other than first edition winner Dick revealing today that three bottles of Coke comprise the celebratory tipple of choice aboard the Virbac-Paprec 3. But life is certainly sugar sweet for Dick and Peyron today as they see their speeds elevated back towards 16-18 knots averages, consistently re-gaining today some of what they lost to the 2004 Olympic 49er champions who are 515 miles behind this afternoon.
If Dick and Peyron have champagne conditions, MAPFRE in second have been trying to deal with a very potent but confusing cocktail, a party punch which is packing very variable breezes and mixed seas which sees Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez forced to maintain a high, but nor necessarily profitable work rate. But the Spanish duo should find it simplified when they too get through the final ice gate of the Indian Ocean this evening, though their wind pressure is set to ease as the frontal trough they have been shadow boxing dissipates. Their motivation remains high but will spike higher when they feel like they are on the same ‘leg’ of the course as the leaders.
Again Jean-Pierre Dick reminded listeners to today’s VisioConference that anything can happen in this mechanical sport, that they are essentially little more than a fast day’s sailing ahead of the second boat, and he reaffirmed how a seemingly small problem can escalate to become a big one.
Ryan Breymaier and Boris Herrmann dealt with their own problem efficiently but did, in the end have ‘outside assistance’ to recover their Code Zero headsail which had slid off the boat when it broached due to a ballast tube malfunction. The Neutrogena duo had to gather their wits quickly when the key sail slipped over the guard rails and into
the sea when they momentarily lost control. But a text book return to the locus where the sail had disappeared was rewarded when the floating sail was pinpointed by a few albatross who were standing on the waterlogged sail, enjoying respite from their own Southern Ocean endeavors aboard their own Neutrogena ‘island’. That the pair were able to get the sail back on board was something of a ‘miracle’ Hermmann reported today.
Having yesterday morning been sailing alongside and in sight of sixth placed Mirabaud, Neutrogena’s problems coast them miles. But the German-American pair passed the Crozet ice gate this morning at between 1130 and midday, some four hours after Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret on the Owen Clarke designed Mirabaud. Neutrogena were just 26 miles behind Mirabaud this evening.
Looking at the long game is always an essential virtue racing around the world, one which Dee Caffari learned especially on her 2008-9 Vendée Globe solo race. Having been forced to route north and upwind, surviving a very stressful 36-48 hours in big, confused seas, the record breaking British skipper and Anna Corbella were back to their radiant best today, looking forward to easy miles directly down the track, knowing that they have a good chance to reducing some of the deficit they lost out to Mirabaud and Neutrogena.
Standings at 14hrs Saturday 5th February
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 15 143,3 miles from the finish
2 MAPFRE at515,3 miles to leader
3 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 604,4 miles
4 GROUPE BEL at658,3 miles
5 RENAULT Z.E at938,1 miles
6 MIRABAUD at1454,1 miles
7 NEUTROGENA at1482,1 miles
8 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at2177,3 miles
9 HUGO BOSS at2359,6 miles
10 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at2851,4 miles
11 WE ARE WATER at2976,8 miles
12 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at3158,4 miles
Dee Caffari (GBR) GAES Centros Auditivos: “ The sun is shining and we are going fast in the right direction, and we are very happy bunnies. It was horrible, we did not like it, the boat did not like it and it was a really horrible, intense 36 hours. And it is probably the worst conditions we have had in the race so far. It was only about trying to keep the boat and the crew in one piece, and we got out of there and the weather has just got better and better.
She did not feel 100% and was not firing on all cylinders, but she is back in full.
It is looking like this northerly component will stay with us and we can crack on straight to the ice gate and clear that by Monday. It is looking like easy miles for us which is quite a change because we have had to work quite hard recently.
Neutrogena and Mirabaud are always our targets because we obviously lost a lot by having to take that northern upwind route, and it did cost us dearly while they were able to take that more direct route, so to close that gap would be lovely and we have not given up.
I was really happy with the boat, I had a good look around yesterday when it became a bit drier, and we sponged out a good deal of water. Everything is good with the boat and she is doing a good job and looking after us.”
Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Virbac-Paprec 3: “We had very strong winds at an angle which was just not good and big waves and so to get to the gate we did not go so fast. Behind us I think they were averaging 19 knots and I think we were 16 knots. But we are downwind again and thing will open out again. We will have a little less wind over the next bit. The last two days were really full on, the boat was shaking with lots of carbon noises.
Everything can crumble because we are on a mechanical boat and we saw what happened with Foncia. You can lose the rig in a second. But 500 miles of a lead is nice, but it is not enormous compared with how far there is to go. We try to read a little and listen to some music. Bur of course sometimes we don?t have time to because we just crash to sleep, tired out. Since the start we have not dropped the rhythm between sailing, eating and sleeping.
Loïck is quite accustomed to our life on board and we had discussions before the race. We take the freeze dried but try to have the best, and we have treats like chocolate. We have energy powders to rehydrate us and we have three bottles of Coke for each great moment. And some semi sparkling water after a big effort which I really like.
Boris Herrmann (GER) Neutrogena: “ The basic problem is pretty steep waves and how to make the boat go fast. It is easier to sail the boat in very steep waves with a lot of ballast in the stern. Our problem started yesterday when we lost the stern tube and the boat wiped out and in this whole episode we lost one sail over the side. We were sailing with the small kite and one reef in the main and so it takes quite a while to take sock the kite.
Once we had done that we looked at each other and said do we really do this because we had at least one and a half miles to go back and it was big waves, and gusts and everything. We did not expect to find it, so we said „lets try? and we turned and on the trace on the navigation programme we could find the point where we wiped out, we went to the position with a couple of tacks, going upwind with very small sails.
From there we went downwind very slowly. And all of a sudden I could see a few albatross and they were sitting on our sails.
I think we have something going on with the albatross. Today we had a problem, we were Chinese-ing the boat (Chinese gybing) heeling over from one side to the wrong side. When that happened once again an albatross was flying close, as if he was keeping an eye in us. Each time we make a stupid mistake it seems like there is one near the boat.
First of all it was quite stressful but in fact finding the sail and then managing to get it back on deck in these big waves was a miracle, but even since then it has been steep waves. And so since then we have probably had to reef and unreef the main probably five times since then, sometimes down to two reefs, some time one and sometimes full main. Yesterday between two positions we were very close or ahead of Mirabuad and we did not want to lose too many miles, to gain back the lead over them and it was the perfect time to go fast this morning.
Ryan worked on the tube today while I took care of the boat and cut a piece of it off to seal it again. We cannot use any ballast then and had to heel the boat over to keep the ballast tube empty. It was a challenge in many ways. But the thing has been glued in place for half an hour and now we are just waiting for it to dry, and the glue can set within a hour because we will pass the gate and then need to gybe south again.
Yesterday we saw them all morning, we sailed alongside them and could see them pretty clearly, we were close and then gained on them, from quite a way behind, just gaining on them before we gybed.”
Alex Pella (ESP) Estrella Damm: “ The waves are long and about eight metres high. There are twenty knots of wind from the south (170), and we are doing 15 knots heading east (94 degrees) Last night the wind dropped a little but has risen again. We have the front just ahead of us and in the next 20 hours will start to get northerly wind. The day is very cloudy and thus it is very difficult to read the swell and wind, which is very unstable in direction and intensity. The last 24 hours we have not gone so fast but the important thing is that we have been closing towards the gate in the right direction.
The idea is to pass the gate and see what to do with the front, probably go south. The boat is going well and as long as it is, so also we’re all right.
Mind you, the watches are exhausting. You finish completely punctured.
So we try to eat and sleep as much as we can. But we remain very motivated and morale as high as ever. I am very happy to be here in the south, although it is a strange and unusual south as we are not much in the south. It will be different after the gate. And currently we?ve got good weather, between 11 and 14 degrees. When we go further south it will be a lot colder.”
Having battled upwind for the last few days, it is a case of ‘TGI Friday’ for the only all female crew of the Barcelona World Race having finally been given some respite as they make progress in a south easterly direction. For Caffari and Corbella, this calmer period will allow them to check over GAES Centros Auditivos for any damage caused by the potentially boat breaking conditions they have been experiencing.
Early this morning, Caffari reported:
“What a difference a day makes! Life onboard is happier and easier. The sea state and weather makes us feel as if we are sailing somewhere completely different and the horrible upwind boat breaking conditions were just a figment of our imagination.”
The duo have also noticed a distinct drop in both sea and air temperature above and below deck as they make progress with the clean-up operation required as a result of the intense last few days.
Talking about what can be expected over the coming few days GAES Project Manager, Harry Spedding, said:
“The current weather forecast for the middle of the Barcelona World Race fleet continues to look complicated. GAES Centros Auditivos will be looking for a transition from upwind conditions to faster downwind. However to find these conditions they will probably need to stay further north than they would have preferred, and navigate through a complex trough formed between two high pressures and a low pressure system to the north. The high pressure systems are to the west and east of the girls’ current position, and the tactical decision will be based upon how quickly these systems move easterly around the Southern Ocean. No doubt the next 24 hours are going to be hard work for Dee and Anna.”
Virbac-Paprec 3 continues to lead the Barcelona World Race fleet with Mapfre and Estrella Damn sitting in second and third places respectively. At the 0900hrs ranking today, Caffari and Corbella onboard GAES Centros Auditivos were in 8th place, 222 miles ahead of Andy Meiklejohn & Wouter Verbraak on Hugo Boss
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:
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.
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
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.
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