Paprec-Virbac 2 v Hugo Boss in Barcelona Race

The Furious Fifties on board Mutua Madrileña ©Mutua Madrileña
The leaders in the Barcelona World Race continue their duel at the head of the fleet, just hours apart as the conditions turn nasty. Paprec-Virbac 2 reported gusts of up to 45 knots overnight, making for miserable conditions on deck.

'There's a point where you're happy to just put the autopilot and get in underneath the combing for protection,' Damian Foxall said from Paprec-Virbac 2 this afternoon. 'But when we were helming today, it's still in full four weather gear and survival suits on.the whole works.it's still pretty heinous I would say.'

The back and forth nature of this duel is relentless, with first one boat and then the other, making gains. But in the end, the boats appear to be attached at the hip, with neither able to make a decisive break.

'At the moment, they're right behind us but on the same axis, and a little bit faster,' Damian said. 'But they (Hugo Boss) are further north, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out over the next 24 hours.'

Current routing programmes have the boats arriving at the next scoring gate in the Cook Strait on Christmas day (European time). Behind them, Temenos II is sailing fast despite its keel problems, with Dominique Wavre saying they're trying to simply focus on racing quickly to New Zealand.

'Following a night with 30 to 40 knots we now have light winds of 10 to 15 knots and are getting near to the Australian safety gate,' he said. 'For the moment with the keel, nothing has changed so we hope it's not too bad...but we can't know until the experts see it at Wellington...so we're trying to put it out of our mind and just sail normally.'

Educación sin Fronteras and Mutua Madrileña are both sailing well in Southern Ocean conditions, making speeds between 13 and 17 knots, as they surf along in the bitterly cold, gusty, wind conditions.

Day 41- December 21, 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 - 88
3. TEMENOS 2 - Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1489
4. MUTUA MADRILENA - Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO - 1962
5. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS - Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES - 2932

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 - Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss: 'The problem with gusty conditions is that you are caught in a catch-22 situation, where you need to put up less sail than you would normally to cope with the gusts, which leaves you slightly underpowered in between gusts. Our strategy though is one of conservatism, so we are happy to be a little underpowered at times. The weather will stay pretty gusty, until the next few low pressure systems arrive.'

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