Barcelona World Race's top 10 boats order has been fast sailing in the NE’ly trade winds, one of the most enjoyable stages of round the world racing today.
Fast downwind sailing in the trade winds - Barcelona World Race
Plunging downwind in winds from 20-25 knots, with the odd stronger gust to keep the helms’ on their toes, has provided high speeds for the leading duos who have all been averaging more than 15 knots, and the second half of the fleet at least 10 knots.
At such speeds, such as François Gabart (FRA) on Foncia reported their top mark so far at 24.3 knots today, full foul weather gear is required in the cockpit, especially considering that the seas remain slightly chaotic and disorganised and the leaders were all reporting wet conditions on deck. In such conditions concentration and focus is vital to keep the IMOCA Open 60’s at full speed for the sea state and not necessarily the wind conditions.
Spanish duos Mapfre and Estrella Damm have shown the virtue of their respective training, experience and optimisation. Olympic medallists Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez have been consistently quick, in fifth leading the group of 5, by 13 miles this afternoon but with a very strong westerly position already banked. Their downwind speeds have been regularly excellent over the last 48 hours perhaps underlining some of their cohesion honed as the most successful 49er skiff crew of their generation.
And Barcelona based Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes confirmed that their work rate through last night, making four or five gybes to stay at the best possible angles, was part of the reason that Estrella Damm has spent the day in third place and now moved 10 miles clear of their fourth placed rivals, Dominique Wavre (SUI) and Michèle Paret (FRA) on Mirabaud.
The leading duo should pass the Cape Verde islands within the between Monday night and Tuesday morning, presenting their next strategic decision: whether to route through the islands or outside to the west.
Thomson fit to join Hugo Boss
Meantime Alex Thomson, the British skipper of Hugo Boss, has received the medical green light he required to join his IMOCA Open 60.
His Barcelona World Race looks set to start in the Cape Verde islands, subject to his team’s logistical plan being approved. Hugo Boss is now more than 530 miles behind the leader. (see below)
And Dee Caffari (GBR) pledged that it is catch-up time now for her and Anna Corbella (ESP) on GAES Centros Auditivos after losing miles to their main rivals. A clean up of the boat yesterday and, then a refreshing sea-water shower for the girls today, Caffari felt was indicative that their tactical errors at Madeira were in the past and now was their time for fast sailing.