Barcelona World Race leader to pay the price

20110317 fmc3 bandeau detail news - Barcelona World Race 2011
Barcelona World Race leader Virbac-Paprec 3 and third placed Renault ZE are caught in costly lighter winds.

For Virbac-Paprec 3 it could be considered a wealth tax, the rich who benefited from the better routing through the mid latitudes high, now being forced to repay some of that extra gain, most routing models seeming to confirm that the French leaders’ total margin will be reduced somewhat when they emerge into the NNE’ly trade winds. It will be slightly easier for Mapfre because the Doldrums have moved north at the same time as Virbac-Paprec 3, keeping them in check for longer.

Renault ZE Sailing Team have slowed down now that they have hit the front, the leading edge of the wind pressure while the red duo Neutrogena and Estrella Damm keep going at 11 and 14 knots respectively. The margin between Neutrogena and Estrella Damm is slimmed still further to just 15 miles with the Barcelona based Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella maintaining a speed advantage of around two to three knots consistently in the trade winds reaching conditions. For Pachi Rivero and Toño Piris their problem is that the front remain pretty stationary.

A low from on the west side of the front, just off the Brazilian coast, but is so close to the coast and does not really move, so that there are no options for these three to try and get to the west, downwind side. There will be a northerly wind on east side of it, so is there a chance for them to go upwind to get to the NW side of it but there are complicated transitions to get there, or do they try and go east hoping to break through the front in some semblance of reasonable shape to find the trade winds on the other side. These are the questions for the peloton to ponder.

Mapfre’s speeds do remain more constant, mostly in double digits, Virbac-Paprec 3 are more intermittent, more up and down, but by about 1N the leaders should be into the N’ly trades, so they have some distance to get there. It clearly remains easier for Mapfre, but Virbac-Paprec 3 will be able to accelerate out the other side and stretch away again.

It does look like a stressful 24 hours for Rivero and Piris, with two opposing winds meeting always setting up a difficult transition through today and into tonight, but it will probably tomorrow some time before they get into a fickle northerly flow caused by the low pressure. It could be all gains to Estrella Damm and Neutrogena today, with the option for them to get across to the low looking like a possible option.

The girls on Gaes Centros Auditivos maybe smell sweet after their showers but their weather outlook through today has a less pleasant aroma. They will be seeing strengthening upwind conditions through the remainder of the day but will soon get through to the SW’lies which should get them to the north side of the next high forming off Montevideao if they keep the accelerator pedal down.

FMC still look set to round Cape Horn early on Sunday morning and We Are Water still have no major weather features on their medium to long term horizon between them and Cape Horn, perhaps Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti paid their taxes up front in the Indian and especially the Tasman?

Barcelona World Race website