British yachtswoman Dee Caffari and her Spanish co skipper Anna Corbella have been experiencing extreme sailing conditions and have also been struggling without a fleet broadband connection for the last few days. The fleet broadband allows the all-female duo to download crucial weather data and other important information that combined enable them to make key strategic decisions.
GAES Project manager, Harry Spedding, said:
“A few days ago the fleet broadband connection started to show problems, Dee was struggling to get a full weather download without losing the signal. We have been working closely with suppliers and Dee has emailed back the connection logs that are stored on the computer. Currently the strongest likelihood is that this is simply bad luck. A combination of their position in the Pacific Ocean combined with the heel angle of the boat, and the elevation and azimuth* of the satellite has led to there being an exceptionally bad connection. We have a few tests to run to ensure there are no other reasons for this problem occurring.
“Whilst the girls are unable to connect to the Inmarsat they are seriously handicapped with their decision making. Weather models and navigation software are now so good that it helps the skippers to not only choose their route, plan sail changes and selection but also when to rest and when to push hard. With gales forecast at Cape Horn in the next week it will be important for the girls to be able to receive the necessary data in order to plan their strategy for the rounding of the Cape.”
The stressful conditions seem to have abated for the girls with Caffari reporting this morning:
“We now have some respite with lighter winds that are finally allowing some downwind sailing. The more comfortable living is allowing us to sponge the water from inside the boat ready for the next high winds. Rest and recuperation and some enjoyable sailing rather than stressful sailing are on order for the weekend. We even saw some blue sky today which is a real treat and has helped lift spirits onboard.”
Caffari then quipped:
“Anna has made a remarkable achievement. She has brought back to life her ebook. It was completely dead, clearly not enjoying the cold damp conditions but somehow she has nursed it back to life so I am hoping her skills will do the same for the fleet broadband too.”
As a result of the conditions and lack of information, the Gaes girls have lost further miles to Andy Meiklejohn & Wouter Verbraak on Hugo Boss and at the 0900hrs ranking were 245 miles behind their closest race rivals. At the front of the fleet Virbac-Paprec 3 continue to hold poll position comfortably with Mapfre and Renault Z E in second and third respectively.
Quantum Racing lead the TP52 Series after the first day of racing, while Madrid – Caser Seguros’ s perfect hat trick of wins sees them top the GP42 leaderboard.
Quantum Racing (USA) emerged as overall leaders of the Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona after opening with two fifth places and a second on what proved an especially testing first day of racing as the Audi MedCup Circuit competes for the first time ever off the Catalan capital.
As an introduction to a new venue nothing was gained easily in the moderate 9-13 knots NE’ly breezes. With the start line set directly in front of where the Olympic village was for the 1992 Olympic Games, relatively close to the shore, there was an awkward choppy sea kicked back off the beach to contend with. The variable cloud cover moved the wind around from time to time, the breeze varied in strength across the course and the racing for the most part was extremely close with small errors punished heavily in the intense competition.
The Quantum Racing team came back to the dock at the city’s Moll de la Fusta, greeted by huge crowds. After a long day on the water the 2008 Audi MedCup champions looked mildly frazzled but content to have stuck within their budgeted 12 points for the day which leaves them leading by only one point from a trio comprising Emirates Team New Zealand in second, Artemis (SWE) in third and Bribón (ESP) in fourth, whilst Cristabella (GBR) lies fifth.
Hat trick in GP42 Series
In the GP42 Series Madrid Caser Seguros (ESP) kept up a perfect score through all three races in spite of the loss of skipper Jose Maria van der Ploeg. The 1992 Finn Olympic gold medallist had to miss out the opening race of the series off his home city after sustaining an ankle injury before the start.
As if to highlight how hard it was to stay regular in these conditions, in the TP52 fleet, Britain’s Cristabella took second in the first race, won the second race and then rode the rollercoaster down to an 11th in the third. Three different boats won races.
After weak openings in Cascais and Marseille, Emirates Team New Zealand seemed to despatch any talk of a first day hoodoo when they won the first race, profiting when early leaders Bribón let them squeeze inside them at the leeward gate.
In the third race the all-Italian Luna Rossa team read the top of the first beat to perfection and lead Quantum Racing across the finish line to post their first win of their Audi MedCup Circuit TP52 campaign.
In the light of losing out the first planned day of racing there will now be no Coastal Race at this regatta.
GP42′s: three wins for Madrid – Caser Seguros
Despite losing tactician Jose Maria van der Ploeg (ESP) to an ankle injury just prior to Race 1 today, Madrid Caser-Seguros (ESP) led by helmsman Paolo Cian (ITA) took the early regatta lead. With a perfect 1-1-1, the team built a solid five point cushion over Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP).
Van der Ploeg had to be taken by RIB off the boat pre-start and the team substituted sailing coach Carlos Llamas.
The unusual big wave, light breeze conditions put a premium on teamwork as well as raw speed, and today Madrid Caser-Seguros showed supremacy in both.
“We worked hard to optimize our weight, rig, and sail settings,” said Cian, “and today it paid off. We had the speed when we needed it, and there were a few situations when it was critical.”
Today’s three wins vaults them up into being tied in points but taking the lead in the tie-break with Islas Canarias Puerto Calero for the overall series standings.
Quotes of the day:
Terry Hutchinson (USA), skipper helm Quantum Racing (USA):
“Consistency is the key here for sure. The middle race was a little frustrating for us because we lost two boats within a hundred metres of the finish line, and so that was hard race because we had sailed really, really well. But then in the last race, Ado, Kevin, Tom and all the guys did really nice work and we battled. One of the things we talked about as a team is that if you go 1,1,2 and then 9,10, then the 1,1.2’s don’t really do a lot for you. So our goal for the day was to come out with 12 points or less and we did that.”
“Oh man, it was really hard. The last race was 12-13, the middle race was about 11-13 and it was really, really lumpy. The NE’ly breeze was bouncing off the beach and the sea wall and we had a lot of chop and standing waves, and that on top of everything else when you are competing against really, really good sailors, you have to contend with that. But it is hard for everyone. But that is only one day and we enjoy that for a couple of minutes and move on to thinking about the next ones.”
Ray Davies (NZL), tactician Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“ We had a good day today, we are happy with the day, one point off the lead at the end of the day. We’ll take that any time. At the start of the day we obviously started really strong but in the last race we slipped back on the first run, losing a couple of boats there and that was sort of a turning point in that race for us.”
“In these particular conditions everyone is going to have difficult tricky races, the big thing downwind is you can get a surge on a wave and the situation can change quite dramatically. We got on the wrong side of a couple down the first run of the last race and lost a couple of boats there.”
“It’s good to have a good first day, we haven’t had a good first day all year yet.”
Simon Fisher (GBR), navigator Cristabella (GBR):
“ It was a pretty difficult day today, complicated with all the wind not a very typical Barcelona day really so there was a lot to think about, to try and manage in terms of the weather. We had gradient breeze and sea breeze a lot of clouds coming over the course. It was a tough day for the tacticians. Nevertheless we had a very good day. We had a second and a first, and unfortunately we couldn’t sort of carry it through to the last one and didn’t do as well in the final race but it was a good day performance.”
“But we are out there in the hunt so that’s our objective.”
Jose Maria van der Ploeg (ESP), taken off Madrid Caser-Seguros (ESP):
“It’s nothing really serious, but I think that leaving the boat [before racing] was the right call. We have to see how it evolves, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to sail tomorrow.” Regarding the team’s winning today without him: “It’s been great. I think that’s the best gift they could give me. I’m really happy!”
Paolo Cian (ITA) helmsman Madrid Caser-Seguros (ESP):
“We worked hard to optimize our weight, rig, and sail settings, and today it paid off. We had the speed when we needed it, and there were a few situations when it was critical.”
Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona
1. Quantum Racing (USA), 5+5+2= 12 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 1+4+8= 13
3. Artemis (SWE), 7+2+4= 13
4. Bribón (ESP), 3+3+7= 13
5. Cristabella (GBR), 2+1+11= 14
6. TeamOrigin (GBR), 10+6+3= 19
7. Luna Rossa (ITA), 9+11+1= 21
8. Matador (ARG), 4+9+9= 22
9. Synergy (RUS), 6+10+6= 22
10. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 12(DNC)+8+5= 25
11. Bigamist 7 (POR), 8+7+10= 25
1. Madrid – Caser Seguros (ESP), 1+1+1= 3 points
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 2+4+2= 8
3. Iberdrola (ESP), 3+2+3= 8
4. AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), 4+3+5= 12
5. Península Petroleum (GBR), 5+5+4= 14
Only the GP42 Series’ official practice heat was completed today, the first scheduled racing day of the Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona.
The 11 strong TP52 Series fleet representing 10 different nations, were left waiting, poised and ready for their first ever points racing off Barcelona, but the light breezes proved insufficient to get competition under way.
Around five hours in the hot summer Mediterranean sunshine, tracking the fickle breeze proved to be in vain for the TP52 teams who watched closely to see what they could learn from their smaller GP42 cousins as they took part in a slow, shifty practice race.
But the breeze all but evaporated before the second windward leg was completed and their race was shortened before the final downwind.
For the GP42’s the light airs practice was considered a good chance to get attuned to the kind of conditions which are expected to prevail for some of this regatta. Their practice race today started in a promising 8 knots, but soon degraded to less than 6 knots with many light air zones and shifts in direction down.
Even though AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA) had an enormous lead around the first top mark, they fell prey to the fickle conditions and Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) was able to take and hold the lead into the finish.
This must be promising for the Canarias team, as light air has not been their strong suit in previous stages.
Madrid Caser-Seguros (ESP), runner-up in the practice race today and a sistership to Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, has been aggressively changing their boat set-up to optimize for light air. They did this by removing some heavy items on board and adding corrector weights to get to the absolute bare minimum all-up weight (4200 kg) which was verified by class measurer Jorge Flethes (ESP) on a crane scale yesterday. This and “a few rig and sail changes,” says helmsman Paolo Cian (ITA), “will make us a little faster in the light air. But overall we feel really good for this regatta.”
While they retired today, another team to watch in the light air will be Iberdrola (ESP), who won handily in the first day’s light air at the last stage in Marseille. They have an older generation Botin Carkeek design that has proven to be a good overall performer, and in the light they seem to have an edge on the newer Botin Carkeek designs.
And if only through sheer will, Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) will be strong in their quest to dig out from the points deficit.
Last night the Audi MedCup Regatta village for the Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona on the Moll de la Fusta came alive for a huge opening party which drew more than 700 invited guests, including many local Barcelona celebrities and VIP’s.
Three races are scheduled for the both the TP52 Series fleet and the GP42 Series fleet tomorrow (Thursday) with this evening’s forecast seeming to offer the prospect of a racing breeze.
The Audi MedCup Circuit, the world’s leading regatta circuit offers an unparalleled visitor experience on land. From 17 to 25 July, Barcelona’s Moll de la Fusta is the location of the Public Village of the Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona, an enjoyable self contained fun and entertainement area for all ages with free daily access from 11:00 to 20:30 h.
From 20 to 25 July, Barcelona will host the third regatta of the Audi MedCup Circuit 2010, the Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona. Together with a tough, evenly matched race series on the water, complemented on land by the the spectacular Public Village, a real theme park for all ages with free access which is available at each regatta location around Europe. In Barcelona, the leisure facilities will be set up at the Moll de la Fusta, where it will remain open to the public daily from 11:00 to 20:30 h (CET) from Saturday, July 17 to Sunday, July 25.
The entertainment includes introductory courses in sailing, a circuit of water skates for children, driving and sailing simulators, radio controlled boats, a five meters high climbing wall, an inflatable climbing wall boat for the children, test of strength competitions using sailing hardware, different competitions with valuable prizes, exhibitions, touch screens to interactively explore the world of sailing … Activities will finish up each day with live music from different DJs and bands from Barcelona, like Faces in Disguise (Saturday, 17), 84 (Sunday, 18), Debilorithmicos (Fridays, 23), The Walks (Saturday, 24), La Musicalité (Saturday, 24) or La Familia Rustika (Sunday, 25). Furthermore, while enjoying the Public Village, visitors can watch live how crews set up and prepare for racing which will begin on Tuesday, 20th.
From that day, the visitor activity is supported by a dock-out shows daily between 11:00 and 12:00 as the racing boats head out on to the race course. From the Public Village, the races can be followed live on giant screens between 13:00 and 17:00 h.
Once finished racing up for the day, between 16:00 and 18:00 h, crews will return to the dock and again the public can discover how they race on their boats. Each day, two teams will also race each other on the Audi Playstation driving simulators, and two other teams will face off in a grinder competition to highlight to the public who are the most skilled teams on the Audi MedCup Circuit.
On Saturday, free access to the pontoon
On Saturday 17th, the day of othe Public Village official opening on the Moll de la Fusta, visitors will have free access to the docks to see at very close hand the 11 TP52’s and five GP42’s participating in the Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona.
That same day, the boats will stay ashore for the public to facilitate this unique opportunity. From 20:00 h, the pop-rock band Faces in Disguise open stage at the Village with the first concert of the week.
If there is a Mediterranean venue which sailors on the Audi MedCup Circuit have wanted to race at for many years it is Barcelona. So there is a great mood of anticipation as the TP52 Series and GP42 Series crews count down to the days to the Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona.
Competition opens with the practice race for the TP52 Series on Tuesday 20th July with the GP42 Series firing up their regatta on the Wednesday with their official practice race.
Many Audi MedCup sailors, some of a ‘certain age’ will have very fond memories of the city which was host to the 1992 Olympics.
Spanish Jose María Van Der Ploeg (GP42 Madrid – Caser Seguros’ owner and skipper) won gold in the Finn class, one of four classes which the host country struck gold in. Spain won gold in the 470 Men’s and Women’s classes and also in the Flying Dutchman class. Domingo Manrique (ESP), trimmer of the GP42 Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), won gold in the FD with Luis Doreste (ESP).
In the Star class, Emirates Team New Zealand’s (NZL) coach Rod Davis (NZL) and mainsheet trimmer Don Cowie (NZL) also have fond memories of Barcelona after winning a silver medal in the Star class in 1992.
The house of the Garbí
Too often Barcelona is associated with light and variable winds, but locals speak highly of the Garbi sea breeze. It may not kick in with the same force as, say a good Palma afternoon, but it is reliable and even.
The big city generates extra heat which enhances the thermal flow. If there is not a big high pressure system sat over the Iberian peninsula then the sea breeze is reliable. If there is then it can be very light and difficult.
The Garbi arrives from around 200 degrees. Typically, as elsewhere, it will start around 180-190 and follow the sun. Nine to 13 knots is the norm and, exceptionally, 16-18 knots.
The seas are usually flat, but if it is blowing from less than 200 then waves can build up, also if there is a gradient SSW’ly wind.
Normally, the sea breeze blows almost parallel to coast off the race area and that does tend to produce more pressure close to the shore, normally the fleets will try to fight for the right side of the race course on the first beat, perhaps a little bit one sided but usually makes for very even, exciting racing.
It will be a great spectator venue with racing taking place off the busy, public beaches in the height of summer. From July 20th to 25th, the Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona will prove that the Catalan venue is one of the best sailing locations in Europe.
Estrella Damm set the New York Barcelona Record at 12 days 6 hours 3 minutes 48 seconds
· W Hotels’ around 50 miles behind, perhaps due to finish around 0700hrs UTC
12 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes and 48 seconds, is the mark for the sailing record books. Estrella Damm, the IMOCA Open 60, and the crew of Alex Pella (ESP), Pepe Ribes (ESP) and Stan Schreyer (USA) set the first record for the 3670 (orthodromic) miles passage under sail from New York to Barcelona very early this Wednesday morning when they crossed the finish line in front of the Catalan capital’s 26 story iconic glass W Hotel, at 00:37:06hrs UTC/ 02:37:06 local time Barcelona. They sailed an average speed of 12.48 knots
From the top storey of the avant garde new landmark, the blinking navigation lights of Estrella Damm could finally be slowly seen becoming more distinct through an otherwise foggy evening and night. As the trio crossed the finish line, set effectively by the transit of the peak of the sail-shaped hotel and the historic Tibidabo church, they finally brought to an end a passage which comprised two stages which contrasted sharply: a very fast crossing of the Atlantic and an almost painfully slow, exacting climb up the Mediterranean in capricious spring breezes, ending with a crawl to the finish line.
And as the upbeat, relieved Estrella Damm team stepped ashore close to the hotel which was built last year, one of the chain which bears the name of their New York to Barcelona record rivals, the eponymous IMOCA Open 60 with Pachi Rivero, Toño Piris and Peter Becker on board, was still making very slow progress, some 50 or so miles further out to sea.
While the Estrella Damm crew were pleased to have got home first there was considerable disappointment for the W Hotels team who put up a close fight all of the way across the Atlantic, mostly within 20 miles of their rivals until they were struck two successive body blows last Thursday and Friday.
First their port rudder mechanism was damaged by a wave, when they were in big winds to the north of Madeira, on the edge of a malicious low pressure system. Then, while they were repairing it, they were knocked over by a big wave as W Hotels broached.
As a result they lost more than 130 miles to be 168.5 miles behind on the 1700hrs GMT position report last Friday (16th). But the tenacious Piris, Rivero and Becker fought back on the approach to and into the Mediterranean, closing the gap again to 53.9 miles on by last Sunday lunchtime (18th).
But they were never able to get back on terms with Estrella Damm which had lead across the start line at Ambrose Light, and for the final one third of the route, they were always on the back foot.
Two boats, two seas, one record.
One of the targets of the New York – Barcelona Transoceanic Sailing Record challenge was to join the two cities by establishing a record route. The weather patterns which characterize both seas have proven a worthy challenge, and the record which has been established sets the bar at a high level.
In the Atlantic Estrella Damm and W Hotels enjoyed fast hand-to-hand combat, matching each other closely, high speed reaching only a few miles apart, pacing each other to high mileages. At first they rode the front of a low pressure system in classic style, in SW’ly winds before having a simple, slow but brief respite transiting a high pressure ridge, then moving to benefit from the boisterous conditions generated by a cut-off low pressure system situated between Madeira and the Iberian peninsula.
The duo left Ambrose Light led by Estrella Damm at 1833hrs UTC/(1433 NY Time) on Thursday April 8th in conditions more reminiscent of summer, light winds and sunshine as they departed New York but were soon fast reaching out into the Atlantic in 18-25 knot winds. The first few days allowed high averages, regularly in the realms of 20 knots, and between the 9th and 11th April they surpassed 400 miles in 24 hours reaching 462 miles on the first Saturday, only 38.7 miles off the 24 hours world record set by Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape during the 2007 Barcelona World Race.
It was the ability to cross the high pressure ridge in a single day as much as the speed on the depressions which contributed to their very high speed to Gibraltar. The average of more than 15 knots was set for the passage to Gibraltar, crossing the Atlantic in a time which compared favorably with 2925 miles Ambrose Light to the Lizard passage 60 footers record, held at 7 days and 23 hours by Bernard Stamm (SUI). They were around a day quicker for the same mileage and surpassed Stamm’s 13.79 knots average considerably. That was until the Mediterranean slow down.
While the best run was in excess of 460 miles in 24 hours, by comparison it took about three days and 10 hours to cover the 528 miles to from Gibraltar to Barcelona. But a new record has been set, a new chapter in sailing history opened with the New York – Barcelona Transoceanic Sailing Record, and both cities have contributed to an exciting new ocean racing benchmark which could prove hard to beat.
(All times are provisional and subject to ratification by WSSRC
The weather forecasts confirm that not only is deliverance from the 35-40 knot gusts and big seas due by Friday early afternoon, but then strategic decisions need to be taken over the following 24 hours which could have a lasting effect on positions up the Mediterranean.
Perennial leader Estrella Damm has a lead of just over 30 miles, and they still have no options but to press on flat out. Both teams well know that the miles up the Mediterranean are likely to be in light to moderate, variable headwinds and that in those conditions, the tables could be turned and W Hotels is acknowledged by most as having the potential speed edge.
As Estrella Damm’s vastly experience Project Manager Jan Santana (ESP) noted after this afternoon’s live audio and video conference with the boats, Pepe Ribes, Alex Pella and Stan Schreyer recognize that over three or four days from Gibraltar even a small speed deficit can quickly consume their 30 miles lead. Add to that the fact that some compression is inevitable, where the chasing boat stays with the better breeze when the lead boat has emerged into lighter going, and all predictions are for this remaining a close challenge.
On board both boats spirits are reported to be high, in spite of the challenging conditions. W Hotels could not be contacted, but Estrella Damm’s Alex Pella remarked that the thought of being so close to what will feel like the homeward stretch feels especially good.
Pella, Ribes and Schreyer are not having any significant problems except for routine small things that are an occupational hazard in the robust conditions, which they have been dealing with. On W Hotels the situation is similar although they had their hands slightly full when the videoconference was taking place this afternoon, as they were undertaking a repair to the compression bar and the part of the blade control mechanism of the windward rudder after it was damaged by a wave.
The W Hotels trio has had to throttle back to make the repairs, but the three co-skippers were confident in their ability to make good a relatively routine, but nonetheless annoying repair. The repair time was estimated to be around three or four hours which should allow W Hotels to return to optimum speed in five or six hours.
Boat speeds through last night and today have been impressive, averaging just under 20 knots and swallowing miles to the south of the Azores, rapidly approaching the improving conditions.
And then, probably on Saturday morning, comes the decision when to gybe, probably between 0800hrs and midday. Certainly for the Spanish crews that will feel like the turn for home.
Pachi Rivero (ESP), Co-skipper W Hotels (ESP): “Approximately 1 hour ago we got a damage in the windward rudder of the boat. I was on deck and a wave shook the boat completely and covered it in water. Once out of the wave I noticed a noise at the stern and it was the rudder hanging. Anyway after evaluating the damage (we have dismounted the rudder) we are already fixing it. We are still in the Record” in an e-mail to Record Control HQ.
Alex Pella (ESP) Co-skipper Estrella Damm (ESP): “We are going very well, with 20-30-32 knots of wind and so the work is still hard, we are happy, but it is reefs in and out because the wind is up and down and quite shifty. We are very concentrated and looking forward to when to gybe. The mood is up and we have no large jobs for the shore team when we get back, just small things and we have generally dealt with them as they happen.”
Jan Santana, Project Manager, Estrella Damm (ESP): “They (Estrella Damm) are pushing as hard as they can because they want to gain as much as possible now, because they know that when they pass Gibraltar the winds will be lighter.”
“You know that you have to prepare for different conditions and our boat is very good like that and upwind and for strong winds. If we are now at 30 miles in front of them, we know only too well that in 24 hours we can lose 20 miles. Now the forecast says that in three or four days the wind will be from the NE, very variable and light, between eight and 12 knots.”
“Both crews are working very hard, the skippers are very high level and the boats are pretty similar and so I expected it to be so close. The options are all pretty similar, and we have run the routings maybe ten times, sometimes with different programmes, and most of them have given exactly the same course that they have done. They don’t want to gybe too early because they go back into the low, and too late and the wind will be too close wind in 12 hours time. When they pass to the east of the centre of the low pressure the wind will change quickly.”
Stu McLachlan boat captain W Hotels (ESP): “I have been really impressed with how close it has been, clearly both teams are working very hard, Pachi, Toño and Peter have being going really well. Both Pachi and Toño have sailed together a lot in the past but they clearly have good chemistry and they have been able to make the boat go fast. Our job is to build in reliability and we have made good progress since last year with the boat. That reliability needs to be completely across the board and in all weathers, it is possible to have gear failures in light winds as well as big winds.”
Standings at 1300hrs GMT Thursday.
1. Estrella Damm (ESP), Ribes, Pella, Schreyer: 1272 miles to finish
2. W Hotels (ESP), Rivero, Piris, Becker: 1303.2 miles to finish (+ 31.2miles)
The two IMOCA Open 60’s pass into their second week of the New York to Barcelona Transoceanic Record Sailing Challenge battling with the toughest conditions of the passage so far.
· High stress levels and intense concentration as the two Barcelona IMOCA Open 60’s fight to get free of the light winds and into the strong north easterlies which will propel them at speed towards Gibraltar.
· W Hotels closes up and sights leader Estrella Damm five miles away after four days and 1450 miles of racing since leaving New York Thursday.
Barcelona, 12 April 2010.- If any small measure or additional motivation was required for the two teams on the Barcelona IMOCA Open 60’s, it was injected early this morning when W Hotels spotted their sole rivals Estrella Damm on the horizon only five or six miles away after four days and 1400 miles of racing since the pair set their transatlantic duel in motion, departing New York’s Ambrose Light last Thursday.
On running into the calmer airs Sunday both teams had individually highlighted that light, capricious breezes are much more stressful and tiring than the high speed, on- the-edge reaching which they have enjoyed since they left. And today as they fought for every metre early on (their) Monday morning, the resulting fatigue was much more apparent in the voices of the two co-skippers who joined today’s short audio call to the Record control headquarters in Barcelona.
W Hotels’ Toño Piris (ESP) admitted that he is maybe getting no more than an hour’s sleep in eight, and even when he did lie down to rest, his level of stress and adrenalin, hearing his team-mates working tirelessly on deck was not conducive to switching off and achieving restful sleep easily.
But Piris and Pachi Rivero (ESP), along with American co-skipper Peter Becker ,were quietly satisfied that their hard work to date has ensured they remain a constant challenge to Estrella Damm, the yacht on which Pepe Ribes (ESP) and Alex Pella (ESP) have already completed one gruelling east-to-west Transatlantic last November as a duo.
Their key focus during the hours of very light breezes and calms have been simply to keep the boat moving. Piris explained today that they had already witnessed the ‘triple donuts’ on the speedo that all sailors hate to see, a trio of big fat zeroes.
On the IMOCA Open 60’s when the boat stops and steerage is lost, the boat can tack involuntarily and it takes many minutes to regain boat speed and to sort out the mess of sails and ropes which sometimes results.
Both boats were on the wind, trying to maintain forward momentum to escape the clutches of the high pressure ridge which has been barring their eastwards progress. Estrella Damm’s Pepe Ribes wondered if they might be emerging from the worst of it, arriving into a more northerly breeze.
After having a deficit of 26 miles yesterday evening, today W-Hotels was within five miles of their rival, and was still sailing slightly faster on average, but as soon as they wriggle free of the calm zone they remain assured of a speedy passage to the Straits of Gibraltar.
Pepe Ribes (ESP) Co-skipper Estrella Damm (ESP): “We are sharing all the jobs, we do everything when we are on watch. Everyone does his job and we are doing very well. We are not specialised in any one thing, we all do the work depending who is on watch, the one who is off watch is the one who is doing the weather. We normally schedule everything like that at the moment. Last night was very stressful with a lot of sail changes and we still only have three knots of wind, so there is a lot of concentration to sail the boats in the puffs, to trim the sails and to drive the boat, build the speed up. We are very tired but we need to keep up concentration. We are doing about 4 knots of boat speed at the moment, the wind is from about 090 degrees and we are heading 140 degrees. We are not really sure where we are in relation to the middle of the high pressure ridge. The decision where we head all the time is about where we can make maximum speed, the best angles for the wind and where we want to be going, we are not really thinking about W Hotels at the moment. If we were 20 miles from Barcelona it would be maybe different but there are too many miles to go.”
Toño Piris (ESP) co-skipper W Hotels (ESP): “We are both on port tack, we have the wind right on the nose, under Code Zero, but we cannot tack yet. It feels like we have been eaten by the High. We have even had 0.00 but have been able to move on in some puffs under the clouds, but not much. We both knew that we would have to pass through the complicated high area. We hope this evening we will be able to tack and get the Northerlies. It is a difficult situation. The sea conditions are quite flat, we put some stuff out to dry. In these conditions with a sailboat you have to concentrate more when it is light. In terms of rest I can reassure you that we are all tired. We were lucky to have less than maybe one hour every eight hours or something. It does not matter if you are supposed to have three hours to go to sleep or three hours to be on watch. I personally have struggled to find sleep. Pachi is an incredible hard worker all the time, he does a bit of navigation and then is on the bow and is all over all the time but we are all very motivated and very hard working. Peter is working like a champ all the time and is really motivated.”
Standings at 1300hrs GMT Monday:
1 Estrella Damm (ESP), Ribes, Pella, Schreyer: 2260.9 miles to finish
2 W Hotels (ESP), Rivero, Pires, Becker: 2267.3 miles to finish (+6.4 miles)