Paprec-Virbac 2 leaves Cook Strait behind

Paprec-Virbac 2 sails through the Cook Strait / Race Gate 5 ©Chris Cameron / DPPI / Barcelona World Race

Paprec-Virbac 2 has left Cook Strait in its wake as skipper Jean-Pierre Dick and co-skipper Damian Foxall begin the second half of the Barcelona World Race with their well-earned lead in good shape. They've begun their descent southwards again, heading to the Southern Ocean for the second time.

'Getting through and away from the Cook Strait we were pretty lucky,' said Damian Foxall. 'It's a bit of a transition area.we went from 25 to 30 knots downwind to at least 30 knots upwind. It was a busy day, wet and windy, but now we're out into the Pacific.'

After waiting to see when Hugo Boss would cross the Cook Strait scoring gate, Paprec-Virbac 2 was happy to see that it is the stage winner, having the fastest elapsed time on the first Southern Ocean leg. None of the remaining three boats can beat this time. Hugo Boss completed the stage and then headed for the quay in Wellington - the clock began running on their 'pit-stop' at 03:00 GMT. The boys on Paprec-Virbac 2 know that when Hugo Boss takes to sea again, it will be sailing at 100% in an effort to catch the leader.

'We had a big discussion about that this afternoon,' Damian laughed. 'It's important now for us to find the right compromise between speed and safety. Anything could happen - we still have 11 000 miles to go. I think we'll have a nice lead on them, but it's not like we're putting the autopilot on and going to bed! They're going to come out 100% for sure.we know they'll be after us and coming up quickly so.'

Just behind, the third place boat, Temenos II, continues to charge towards Wellington. Co-skipper Michèle Paret says they're also trying to find the right balance between speed and safety as they nurse their damaged keel to New Zealand. The boat will be hauled out in Wellington with experts on stand-by to attack the repairs immediately.

'The feeling is a bit strange as we are not 100% race mode, but we don't want to lose miles. We want to go as fast as possible but the damaged keel is always in the back of our minds,' she says. 'It's not good to stop, the best would be to continue at sea, it's frustrating and we'd prefer to keep going.'

Just behind, Mutua Madrileña has made up 50 miles on the leader over the past 24 hours, while at the back of the fleet, Educacion sin Fronteras has crossed through the Australian safety gate after altering course dramatically to the north to reach the gate. Servanne Escoffier says the wind is up and they're still living the full-on Southern Ocean experience.

'We have between 30 and 35 knots, WNW, and we're making between 15 and 18 knots,' she told us. 'We're trying to be careful. We've had two or three days with a lot of wind and waves. It's better now but again, more wind is coming and it will be harder.'

Day 47 - December 27, 14:00 GMT - Position report with distance to leader

1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 - Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL - 0
2. HUGO BOSS - Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE - 275
3. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1539
4. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 1918
5. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS - Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES - 2950

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

Quotes - Roland Jourdain, Veolia Environnement: 'We are 500 miles from Perth and we're hoping to be there in about five days;. We're going more or less five knots in speed and the weather is ok and should be fine until we arrive. It's downwind, lots of waves, but the sun is out. We have the birds of the southern ocean still, but it's starting to get warmer now. We're reading a lot and we can watch movies - it's the first time for me that I watch movies on the computer! We talk about our 'poor lives' and for two weeks it's alright, but more than that would be quite boring.it's time to arrive!'

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