Thursday, December 06, 2007

Estrella Damm, Temenos II and Hugo Boss take advantage of strong winds

[Source: Barcelona World Race] Good night for Estrella Damm, Temenos II and Hugo Boss as strong winds enabled the crews to make good progress and to catch up on the leaders...

Jonathan McKee and Guillermo Altadill have been the first team to break the 400-miles per 24 hours barrier in this Barcelona World Race, and are still going strong after having gained a place. Meanwhile, Hugo Boss is threatening Veolia Environnement.

As we were expecting yesterday afternoon, Estrella Damm took 7th place from Mutua Madrileña and has been maintaining impressive average speeds for 24 hours, consistently hitting the 20-knot mark under big gennaker. Jonathan McKee, who prior to this experience only had a taste of the Open 60's raw power, admitted today during the video conference that it's a thrilling but exhausting ride: "It's difficult to be pushing hard all the time, but we're keeping the pressure on to try and stay in touch with the front guys. As we have to hand steer, we don't get that much rest." The American sailor also stressed that maintaining the right balance between speed and safety was not always an easy job, but the duet he forms with Guillermo Altadill seems to work well, both men being on the same wavelength when it comes to race tactics or boat handling. It certainly has been a great pleasure to feel the wind kicking in and to be able to overtake Mutua Madrileña, who in contrast did not have such a great night...

"We got trapped in a totally windless zone", explained Javier "Bubi" Sanso, who admitted venturing a bit too far east, "and overall it's been a big mess". The Spanish crew also had a problem with their Code 5 sail, and even though Javier believes it can be mended, it has been a set back that they can have done without. Exhausted by a night spent fighting dead calms after long hours at the helm and good speeds yesterday, the Mutua Madrileña skipper hasn't lost his sense of humour but chose not to elaborate on how he felt about losing his 7th place to Estrella Damm - "There might be some children listening, I'd rather not repeat what we said when we found out!"

Up in front, if PRB is maintaining her lead and keeping Paprec-Virbac 2 38 miles in her wake, Hugo Boss has come yet closer to Veolia Environnement and seems to be in a position to threaten Jourdain and Nélias's third place. 31 miles behind the French crew, Thomson and Cape are making the most of their monohull's power, while enjoying every minute of their cavalcade at more than 20 knots. North east of her prey, Hugo Boss is apparently benefiting from stronger winds and has caught up on Veolia Environnement last night while moving away from Delta Dore's bow. "That boat is clearly fast", said Jérémie Beyou, "and they got some good winds before us and now have a better angle. But now we're also happy with our speed which is a relief because the Atlantic hasn't been that fast for us until now. We're in the 40s, and I have a very happy Sidney at the helm right now - the guy needs speed, so the conditions suit him fine at the moment. Looking ahead, we're going to get into some hairy stuff soon, so we're preparing for that."

The first big depression is expected to hit the fleet in approximately 72 hours, yet lighter winds tomorrow might allow for a slight compression, the leaders slowing down while their pursuers may keep going a bit longer. But after that, the great "conveyor belt" of low pressure systems looks right in place and active, the race towards this fast train is on the menu more than ever...

In quotes - Jonathan McKee, Estrella Damm
"I hadn't spent more than 20 days at sea before this race, so everyday I'm breaking a personal record"



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