Saturday, November 17, 2007

Barcelona World Race boats face light conditions in the Atlantic

[Source: Barcelona World Race] By Friday night, the entire Barcelona World Race fleet is expected to be sailing on the Atlantic Ocean - Educación sin Fronteras will pass through the Strait of Gibraltar shortly – but the conditions aren’t necessarily as any of the skippers would have anticipated or hoped.

On the video conference today, most of the boats were reporting winds of 6 to 9 knots and making six or seven knots of speed through the water in the light Northeasterlies. The forecast is for the wind to ease, and turn to face the boats on the nose over the coming days, making progress more difficult again.

Go west?

The question facing the skippers is how far west to go as they set up for the next scoring gate at the Canary Islands. The ‘rhumb line’ (shortest distance to next mark) is not necessarily the fastest route. The current forecasts seem to be enticing the bulk of the fleet further west. Paprec-Virbac 2, the lead boat, is positioned furthest west and that seems to have paid as it leads PRB by 11 miles on the 16:00 GMT position report.

“Studying the weather reports is pretty intense,” reports Paprec-Virbac 2 skipper Jean-Pierre Dick. “I think aloud, challenge, argue and discuss the finer details before coming to a common decision with Damian, and that is the nice thing about being double-handed in this race - it makes it interesting to think things over together…our choice to go west yesterday morning and the slightly stronger wind off shore really helped!“

Similarly, Hugo Boss took a short-term hit by heading putting in a gybe to the northwest and begins this evening positioned slightly to the west of the tracks of both Veolia Environnement and Delta Dore. Will it be enough to enable skipper Alex Thomson to get past?

The Estrella Damm crew reports on day 6 of the race. Atlantic Ocean, 16 November 2007. Video copyright Barcelona World Race

It will be a few days yet before the final report card is in on any of the strategies being deployed in this first part of the Atlantic. The Spanish crew on Mutua Madrileña has opted for an altogether different tactic, hugging the coast of Morocco, in an effort to shave miles off the trip. But the lighter conditions forecast over the coming days makes this a dangerous game.

“Everything here is loaded with uncertainty,” wrote Javier ‘Bubi’ Sansó this afternoon. “At times it seems as if it was a good idea to come closer to land and at others it seems like we’ve really put our foot in it. But for better or for worse we’ve taken the decision for the long term, looking at what lies ahead.”

Day 6 – November 16, 16:00 GMT – Position report with distance to leader

1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 - Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL - 0.0
2. PRB - Vincent RIOU / Sebastien JOSSE - 10.7
3. ESTRELLA DAMM - Guillermo ALTADILL / Jonathan MCKEE - 72.1
4. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique WAVRE / Michele PARET - 80.1
5. DELTA DORE - Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET - 97.9
6. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 98.8
8. HUGO BOSS - Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE - 115.3



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