Barcelona World Race – Battle of the Atlantic

Gaes - Barcelona World Race 2011
Barcelona World Race - Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella turned the tables on their rivals Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak on Hugo Boss when they turned the corner at Cape Horn. The Gaes girls started their ascent up the Atlantic by climbing one place above their counterparts, stealing their eighth place.

And while Barcelona’s Corbella became the first Spanish woman to race round Cape Horn, so too the Catalan capital’s Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes on Estrella Damm overhauled a temporarily stalled Neutrogena’s Boris Herrmann and Ryan Breymaier as the battle of the Atlantic heats up. In terms of distance to finish only 13 miles separated Neutrogena, Estrella Damm and Mirabaud this morning.

Neutrogena was slowed to just 4.5 knots for a period and only made six miles through the night hours, losing out to Estrella Damm who made 97.5.

For the Cape Horn duo it was the two gybes approach from the more northerly quadrant which closed Gaes Centros Auditivos right up to Hugo Boss. At 2200 UTC Hugo Boss was 24 miles away from Cape Horn doing 9.5 knots and Gaes 36 miles off making 12 knots. The pair of Imoca Open 60’s which often live in the same home marina in England rendezvoused at the bottom of the world, passing Cape Horn in sight of each other, at virtually the same time – both at 0045 UTC and separated by an estimated 1.5 miles.

Gaes Centros Auditivos took 16 days 05hours 00min for their passage from Wellington while Hugo Boss took 17 days 2 hours 30 minutes. Record breaking Dee Caffari on her fourth passage of the 'cape of all capes' reported:

'We are officially now Cape Horners in the Barcelona World Race. We managed to get there just before darkness fell so we got sight of the infamous landmark for sailors and took some photos. Just before we got a little too close for comfort, while we were preparing to gybe we saw the lights of Hugo Boss.

A rendezvous at the bottom of the world.

I have to say that rounding Cape Horn is a very special feeling whether it is your first time or your fourth time but doing it just ahead of a race rival made a little extra special for me.

It was actually quite emotional. I congratulated Anna on getting here and reminded her that not everyone achieves this. I am very proud of her and now she is the first Spanish woman to round Cape Horn. Way to go!!

It is a huge achievement for anyone that gets round this corner and with it comes a sense of relief. Surviving the Southern Ocean and escaping its clutches, returning to the Atlantic and psychologically the big thing is to point the bow towards home. We toasted Seb and Kito as we passed the bottom of the world and wished them well and now we have the complex Atlantic to deal with but still with no fleet working weather information is difficult to receive.'

At the front of the fleet Virbac-Paprec 3 have started to encounter the swirling light to moderate NNW’lies of the transition zone which have slowed Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron back to around 11-12 knots while Mapfre have been back with the gas pedal floored, averaging 18.3 knots through the night to pull back 65.7 miles, using the trade winds to best effect, the duo hitting 23kts at times. They should stay with the SE’ly trade winds for most of the day though they, too, will be headed later.

Third placed Renault ZE Sailing Team are still upwind approaching the centre of the high pressure still in 20-25 knots and have around 480 miles of margin over their FNOB Escuderia compatriots on Estrella Damm. In fact while the mileage to the finish is very close, there is only 100 miles or so of lateral separation NW to SE between Neutrogena, Estrella Damm and Mirabaud. Michèle Paret’s improved health, the French racer confirming yesterday that she can take a more active role now, and is having a positive effect on boat speed as they engage with the other two close rivals.

With eight boats in the Pacific, Forum Maritim Catala fulfilled the Mid-Pacific gate last night at 2100hrs and are still making solid 9-10 kts speeds under reduced sail in robust 40-45kts winds, while We Are Water are now into better 20-25 kts SW’ly breezes making good speed.

Barcelona World Race website