Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Barcelona World Race: The Pacific for Paprec-Virbac 2 – pit-stop for Hugo Boss

[Source: Barcelona World Race] As Paprec-Virbac 2 manoeuvred its way through Cook Strait and the fifth scoring gate of the Barcelona World Race, Hugo Boss skipper Alex Thomson, some 130 miles behind the race leader, announced he would be making a short pit stop in Wellington. Race rules oblige Hugo Boss to remain in port for a minimum of 48 hours. Skipper Alex Thomson says the stop will allow them to rejoin the race at 100%, ready to tackle the task of catching Paprec-Virbac 2.

“The big news for us is that we’re going to stop in Wellington – we have some problems with our rudders,” Alex announced on the video conference this morning.

Alex says the rudder blades are moving within their cassettes and he says the cassettes are flexing as well, causing the bearings on the transom at the back of the boat to wear out. In addition, the rudders on Hugo Boss are ‘kick-up’ rudders, designed to hinge upwards if they hit a submerged object. But Alex says, “Our rudders seem to have a tendency to point up at the sky rather than the sea bed, which can cause us to crash gybe.”

The stop will be an opportunity to put right numerous other small problems of the sort that crop up on any boat after it sails halfway around the world. The goal is to get back into the race fully confident in the boat in an effort to overtake Paprec-Virbac 2 in the second half.

“I’m chuffed to bits with the performance of the boat. I’m very pleased with our preparation and I think it’s nothing short of a miracle that we’ve got to this stage of the race as competitive as we have been with such a new boat. It’s only been in the water for three or four months. My team is in Wellington now, getting ready to see us in for 48 hours. We’ll get a rest, get some nice food and we’ll set off again into the Southern Ocean at full pelt.”

Meanwhile, Paprec-Virbac 2 crossed the scoring gate in Cook Strait at 12:32 GMT. The race leader had a rough time getting to the gate, with wind that was up and down and coming from all points of the compass.

“We’ve been going for quite a while now, but that’s part of getting through the Cook Strait,” said a tired Damian Foxall. “It’s been really squally, and we’re upwind now – we had 40 knots upwind at one stage. But it’s lighter now, and there was a nice sunset over the South Island. It kind of makes you want to step off and look around, but that won’t be us. Not this time.”

The Cook Strait marks the unofficial halfway point of the Barcelona World Race and Paprec-Virbac 2 has been the class of the fleet, leading for the vast majority of the race to this point. The rest of the fleet continues to make good pace as well, with Educación sin Fronteras posting the best ‘distance made good’ over the past 24 hours in 25 to 30 knots of cold Southern Ocean wind.

Day 46– December 26, 14:00 GMT - Position report with distance to leader

1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 - Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL - 0
2. HUGO BOSS - Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE - 134
3. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1532
4. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 1970

In Quotes – Servanne Escoffier, Educación sin Fronteras: “For the past 24 or 30 hours we’re having 30 to 35 knots. Now we’re expecting a wind to shift to the west and like this we will head east to the next gate. Around us the sky is grey and low, but the boat is fast. It's great!!”



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