Paprec-Virbac 2 stretches lead on Hugo Boss

Servanne Escoffier on board Educacion Sin Fronteras ©Santi Serrat - Barcelona World Race

Skippers Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall aren't about to give up the lead in the Barcelona World Race without a fight. After seeing a significant lead diminished to just 12 miles over the past three days, the race leaders have stretched out again and lead Hugo Boss by 83 miles, an increase of more than 60 over the past 24 hours. But it hasn't been easy; conditions are very, very difficult.

'There is a lot of wind today, at times over 40 knots,' was the description from Jean-Pierre Dick. 'It's stressful, because the waves are big and the water crashing over the deck is freezing, which makes it a challenge to manoeuvre and change sails, for instance. It takes a lot of time when the conditions are like this.'

Jean-Pierre went on to say that it was hard to watch Hugo Boss come back, but he's confident that Paprec-Virbac 2 is up to the job of staying in front: 'We were nervous, yes, but not afraid.we know that we can beat Hugo Boss face to face and that is what we are going to try to do now.'

It's been a fast 24 hours on board Temenos II where co-skipper Michèle Paret says conditions are helping them nurse their boat with its wounded keel towards New Zealand: 'The waves are hitting us on the beam but it's a long swell, which is preventing the boat from slamming too much. That stops the jolts and spares the keel. The wind has headed a little; it's wet on deck again but above all it's enabling us to sail a little quicker than of late where we had the wind right on our tail.Since yesterday we've really been able to feel the rise in temperature. It's nothing like what it was and we're managing to get 12°C down below at the warmest part of the day.'

That's not the case for Mutua Madrileña and Educación sin Fronteras, the only two boats in the fleet still tackling the 'Furious Fifties' as they race south of 50-degrees latitude. This far south it's cold, wet and windy for both. Yesterday, Educación sin Fronteras had snow and ice on the mainsail, while today Mutua Madrileña reported life was fairly miserable on board.

'We're having a big sea with 5 to 6 metre waves, gusts of 40 knots, average wind of 30 to 35 knots,' wrote Javier Sansó. 'The boat is much faster now, surfing, the conditions on board are not very comfortable, there is a lot of condensation, there is water everywhere inside, our sleeping bags are wet.We have spent more time than the other boats in the Furious Fifties, the low latitudes, twice as much as the leaders, so we are a little bit fed up of being cold and wet all the time.'

Day 40- December 20, 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 - 83
3. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1444
4. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 1936
5. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS - Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES - 2849

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 - Michèle Paret, Temenos II: 'The birds are still following us. We're wondering how they manage to live here year round, they must have good down! It's nice to see life around us; as soon as you're on deck you look out for them. They really seem to be enjoying themselves, playing with the turbulence around the boat. It's a pleasure to see them. Without them life would be very different; thanks to them we feel a little less alone in the middle of this immense desert of water and grey skies.'