Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Barcelona World Race, still surrounded by ice

[Source: Barcelona World Race] Paprec-Virbac 2 has begun to make miles to the north as they need to climb over 120 miles to make it through the ice safety gate. Now sailing at 53-degrees latitude and with sea water temperature approaching 10-degrees Celsius, skippers Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall could be forgiven for expecting they’d seen the last of the icebergs. But that hasn’t been the case as a steady stream of photos and position reports of the seven icebergs they’ve spotted are being relayed in to race headquarters.

“We’ll arrive at the ice gate tomorrow, but it’s been really stressful overnight,” admitted Jean-Pierre. “We have to be careful, even with the water temperature at 9.5 degrees, because it seems the water temperature is not a reliable clue right now. It’s still possible to see some ice.”

Temenos II being lifted out of the water to assess keel damage. Wellington, 1 January 2008. Photo copyright Temenos

A look at the position reports today show why the southerly route was so tempting – Paprec Virbac 2 added 120 miles to its lead overnight. It wasn’t so much from sailing faster than Hugo Boss, but from sailing a shorter, more direct route on the ‘inside lane’ closer to Antarctica. But they need to bank miles while they can – Hugo Boss is expecting favourable weather over the next few days.

“We’re expecting to take a bit of breeze down to them over the next couple of days and we hope to close it up quite a bit by the time we get to ‘the Horn’ (Cape Horn),” Hugo Boss co-skipper Andrew Cape said. “I’m not saying we’re going to be next to each other, but we are going to be closer and it’s going to be a full-on race from there, for sure.”

The two leaders can afford, for now, to focus just on each other. They have a good lead over the boats behind, with third-placed Temenos II having pulled in to the pit-lane in Wellington. The boat is now out of the water, with experts poring over the keel in an effort to assess the damage and make decisions regarding the immediate future for Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret. We can expect some more information over the next day or so, but in the meantime, Michèle provided an update on their state of mind.

“We’re dying to find out whether or not we can head back out into the race,” she wrote as they approached Wellington. “In the meantime we’re avoiding thinking about it too much. One thing for sure is that we’re very, very keen to continue and we're crossing our fingers that we can do just that.”

Dominique Wavre assessing keel damage on Temenos II. Wellington, 1 January 2008. Photo copyright Temenos

Mutua Madrileña is approaching Cook Strait in light winds, with a high pressure system right above them. “We should be in Wellington in about 24 hours,” said Javier Sansó. “Our morale is high, everything is good and we just want to get around Cook Strait and get through the gate.”

Educación sin Fronteras is still sailing quickly in fifth place in the race, making 15 knots and sailing downwind some 750 miles from the Cook Strait scoring gate but having gained another 50 miles on Mutua Madrileña over the past 24 hours.

Day 53 – January 2, 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 - 846
3. TEMENOS II - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 2179
4. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 2359

Abandoned - DELTA DORE - Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET
Abandoned - PRB - Vincent Riou / Sebastien JOSSE

In Quotes – Andrew Cape, Hugo Boss: “It’s a tough race, it’s a hard race. It’s hard being on these big, powerful boats with only two crew. I’d be scared to imagine what it’s like on your own. It’s been very hard – but so much the better. The harder it is, the more work you do, and it’s more fulfilling.”



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