Paprec-Virbac 2 and Hugo Boss - cat and mouse game

Capey catching up on some sleep on the bow ©Hugo Boss - Barcelona World Race

Hugo Boss closed to within 12 miles of race leader Paprec-Virbac 2 on Wednesday, before slightly falling back again over the afternoon at the Barcelona World Race. At the 16:00 position report, Hugo Boss was 21 miles behind, but sailing a couple of knots slower. Still, it's been an 18 mile gain over the past day, so the cat and mouse game continues.

'At one stage we were 400+ miles behind the leader, so we're feeling pretty happy about where we are now. It's taken a long time. We left the Mediterranean in eighth place,' Alex Thomson said today, when asked about closing the gap.

'We're not doing anything different from what we've done the whole race. We're not pushing very hard.it is a long way to go and we're fast enough and when the conditions allow and the boat's in its sweet spot, then we'll be faster than them anyway.'

On board the race leading Paprec-Virbac 2, a composed Jean-Pierre Dick said he and co-skipper Damian Foxall would choose a more southerly option compared to Hugo Boss, now that the safety gate is in their wake.

'We are finally getting the wind that we have been waiting for. Hugo Boss came back on us again last night, which is normal, as there is more wind behind. But now, we are sailing further south than them, let's see what will happen.'

Now in third place, Temenos II skipper Dominique Wavre is still nursing his boat towards the next scoring gate at the Cook Strait in New Zealand where the team is planning a pit-stop to make repairs to its keel.

'With the depression expected which is going to cross the Indian Ocean, we prefer to head further north than the normal route to protect the keel. This way we will avoid the strong winds close to the centre of the low,' he said. 'The barometer is seriously dropping. We're really seeing all the signs of a low coming soon.The aim is to get the boat to Wellington to check everything thoroughly. So we are being conservative. We are ok, but sad to feel our boat hurting.'

Mutua Madrileña is sailing in 30 to 35 knots of wind with a reefed mainsail and a staysail. Skipper Javier Sansó says he and co-skipper Pachi Rivero are getting tired of the Furious Fifties and its relentless cold and wet weather. But he says the boat is ok and they're just trying to get to the next waypoint as quickly as possible. Similarly, Educación sin Fronteras appears to have come through its stormy night well, and is making good progress today averaging between 13 and 15 knots. They've made up nearly 70 miles in the past 24 hours.

Day 39 - December 19, 16:00 GMT - Position report with distance to leader

1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 - Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL - 0
2. HUGO BOSS - Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE - 21
3. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1339
4. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 1867
5. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS - Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES - 2635

Abandoned - VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT - Roland JOURDAIN / Jean Luc NELIAS
Abandoned - ESTRELLA DAMM - Guillermo ALTADILL / JONATHAN MCKEE
Abandoned - DELTA DORE - Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET
Abandoned - PRB - Vincent Riou / Sebastien JOSSE

In Quotes - Andrew Cape, Hugo Boss: 'It's good to warm up a bit. Coming up to this gate has been a bit like a summer holiday. I can see it on the map (that I'm getting close to home) but it doesn't feel anything like home,' he said laughing.

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