Barcelona World Race - Fleet faces 50-60 knots

Dee at Work - Barcelona World Race 2011
Barcelona World Race skippers onboard Hugo Boss and Forum Maritim Catala are facing 50 knots of wind, whilst
a Southern Ocean low is also advancing towards We Are Water in the eastern Pacific.

Barcelona World Race co-skipper Ludovic Aglaor, of Forum Maritim Catala, today demonstrated that rounding Cape Horn does not necessarily equate to hitting the home stretch.


The French skipper and his team mate Gerard Marin (ESP) reported that they had been caught up in the most severe storm of the competition last night, a fact corroborated by nearby Hugo Boss. 'Last night has been pretty intense with the strongest winds we have seen so far in the race. Storm force winds, squalls with 52 knot gusts and short choppy seas meant that we have been glued to the wheel all night,' Wouter Verbraak (NED) reported today by email.

'We had 60 knots of wind and it’s been really severely cold. A huge squall has arrived again so I’ve just taken down the solent – we did not anticipate that this would be so hard and so long! Last night we were sailing under bare poles. Only the tip of the mainsail remained while we had four reefs in. At around 2200h (UTC) it increased to 60 knots,' recalled Aglaor.

'Early last night, the sea was good, because it hadn’t had time to build up but it has increased a lot this morning. It’s not breaking, but the waves are quite short and it feels like there are deep troughs of around 8-10 metres deep really close to each other that are not easy to negotiate!'While Forum Maritim Catala seem to have experienced the worst of conditions, Hugo Boss were able to harness some of the strong winds to make 16 knots earlier this morning, and have now pulled 277 miles ahead in seventh place.

Whilst the far southerly latitudes of the Pacific and Indian Oceans are rightly feared for the large depressions which can form and roll, uninterrupted by land, around the base of the planet, a young Atlantic depression such as this one can also bring chaotic conditions. Being less than 24-hours formed, this low pressure storm is more compact, and features abrupt changes in force and direction leading to a confused and short sea state.

A Southern Ocean low is also advancing towards We Are Water in the eastern Pacific, who look set to experience 50-60 knot wind speeds from tomorrow. Currently 950 miles from Cape Horn, Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti (ESP) are likely to be overcome by the east-moving depression in the next 24 hours, but released from it before the reach the tip of South America.

Dripping with sweat even in shorts, with the sails flapping on deck, it was a very different picture for Antoñio Piris (ESP) in today’s video conference. The third boat to enter the Doldrums, Renault Z.E. have crept out of the light airs of the poorly established southerly trades, into the unpredictable and equally light breezes of the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

'We’ve been having pre-pre-Doldrums, pre-Doldrums, and now Doldrums! So for me they’ve been the longest and the widest that I’ve ever done. They’re frustrating because we’re leading a pack and we’re always looking behind with a little bit of fear of the guys at the back having a little bit more wind and us thinking we’re going through this too slowly. So the feeling is that we’re sticking, and we’re not going through the water as fast as we’d like,' Toño reported today.

Behind them Estrella Damm and Neutrogena have escaped the lightest breezes and are now back in double digit figures, with Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes (ESP) pulling ahead to lead by 38 miles in fourth.

'We can’t wait to get through and get some fresh wind because now the wind is changing every minute. We can’t stop changing the sails and the course of the boat and adjusting everything because the wind is very shifty, and it’s very easy to have a slow boat and it’s very difficult to get it going again. So it’s tense days, tense moments and we can’t wait to get out of here,' added Piris.

The tension of looking behind was also evident for race leaders Virbac Paprec 3 today, as Loick Peyron (FRA) admitted to 'pleading in front of the computer like a muppet!' every time a position report came in. The French leading duo have added just 17 miles to their advantage over Mapfre in the past 24 hours, as Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez (ESP) pile on the pressure.

But when it comes to their planned strategy for shaking off the Spanish pair around an imminent high pressure system, Peyron would not be drawn, wryly commenting: 'We all know there are two ways to pass a high pressure, or two sides I should say, and we have to choose one side, in a few days, but you are not going to know what side we’re going to choose, that’s for sure!'

Standings at 1400hrs UTC Wednesday 23rd March, 2011:
1 Virbac-Paprec 3 at 2138,6 miles from the finish
2 Mapfre at 236,7 miles from the leader
3 Renault Z.E at 1048,4 miles
4 Estrella Damm Sailing Team at 1221,4 miles
5 Neutrogena at 1259,9 miles
6 Gaes Centros Auditivos at 1775 miles
7 Hugo Boss at 3810,1 miles
8 Forum Maritim Catala at 4087,1 miles
9 We Are Water at 5692,9 miles
10 Central Lechera Asturiana at 9411,7 miles
RTD Foncia
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