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The Great Australian Cape

© Thierry Martinez
© Thierry Martinez
  • Leaders Cheminées Poujoulat pass Cape Leeuwin – two days faster than the previous race
  • Tough upwind conditions at rear of the fleet
  • “We can expect everything” Pepe Ribes

Leaders Cheminées Poujoulat have passed the second ‘Great Cape’ in the Barcelona World Race. Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin, around 600 miles south of the tip of south-western Australia, at 1525hrs (UTC), 37 days, 3 hours and 25 minutes after setting sail from Barcelona.

In the previous edition of the Barcelona World Race, race winners Virbac Paprec 3 passed the longitude of Leeuwin on February 8, suggesting that the race leaders are already 48 hours faster than the last race’s record-setting pace.

Cheminées Poujoulat has currently sailed around 40% of the 23,465-mile theoretical racecourse, and now has around three days more sailing in the Indian Ocean before crossing to the Pacific, south of Tasmania. Neutrogena in second place is 175 miles to the west, averaging around 1 knot faster over the past 24 hours.

 

The sailors’ view

Former race leader Pepe Ribes, who was in first place with Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss when they were dismasted off South America on January 15, returned to the Barcelona World Race studios today to give his analysis of the competition.

Ribes, who also finished fourth in the 2010-11 edition of the Barcelona World Race with Alex Pella, said the race was “unfinished business” for him and despite the inclement conditions the fleet is currently experiencing in the Southern Oceans, he still wished he was racing alongside them. He also believes that there may well still be place changes within the fleet:

“I think it’s still quite a good fight. Obviously between the first and the second group there is quite a bit of separation, really difficult to catch. But between first and second and third and fourth maybe we will see some changes of positions. But the distance that they have now, already, I think to have changes of positions you have to break a boat or don’t sail properly the boat because you have a problem, because 150 or 100 miles is already a bit gap to catch up, or to jump a weather system. So I think the race is not even in the middle, so the boats and the guys are going to suffer a lot still. I think we can expect everything!”

Asked to pick a winner he said, “I think the vict ory will be between Cheminées Poujoulat and Neutrogena, for sure,” adding, “Experience is always decisive in this sport.”

 

Different angles

The difference between reaching in 30-knot winds and beating into 30-knot headwinds was vividly illustrated today.

Renault Captur in fourth place was this morning racing in 25 knots, with stable wave conditions and sunshine making for a pleasant day of fast sailing for Jörg Riechers  and Sebastien Audigane. Riechers reported in today’s videoconference that although they expected conditions to build, thanks to a low pressure system to the south-west, they were unconcerned:

“We are in 25 knots, reaching at about an angle of 125° degrees, going fast and still sunny conditions, but I think in a couple of hours the wind will be getting stronger, and probably will stay strong for the next four days. So we are expecting 35 knots for the next night, and for two days we wi ll see probably 40 knots.

“It’s downwind so for the next night it will probably be two reefs and the J2, and for the 40 knots it will probably be two reefs and the J3, but nothing really to declare about. Just to take the reefs when the wind gets up.

“For us it’s easy at the moment. So it’s nothing really special at the moment. When it gets to 40 knots it will be maybe a bit tough, but nothing really to worry about.”

Renault Captur is currently at the leading edge of a low pressure system, which has seen them average 17.8 knots boatspeed over Friday afternoon. Third placed GAES Centros Auditivos is around 250 miles to the east and slightly further north, frequently in 5-10 knots less pressure, and with a 212-mile margin today, reduced by around 60 miles since yesterday.

However, fifth placed We Are Water, some 575 miles behind, are to the west of the Kerguelen Islands, and to the west of the same front. Willy Garcia reported strikingly different conditions this morning: “We have been sailing for 6 or 7 hours with 40 knots of wind and gusts of 45-47 knots. Our speed over the ground: 20-25 knots constantly. Boat more below the sea than above it…”

 

Headed off course

One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton has also been experiencing upwind south-easterly conditions, however, Spirit of Hungary have had to take them most dramatically evasive action, sailing around 300 miles on a north-easterly course in east-north-easterly winds, before finally tacking this afternoon. Skipper Nandor Fa spoke today of the challenges he and Conrad Colman were facing.

“Life is very difficult right now. You know we are sailing in upwind since four or five days, and it’s really difficult now, it’s stronger than it was before. In the night we had 30 knots plus winds from the east, and quite rough seas.

“Sometimes I have a feeling we are sailing in the wrong direction in the planet, because it is like we are sailing in the opposite direction – but anyway we are sailing and quite soon we will turn, we will tack, and we go to the south-east after. But right now still we point north and hope that the wind should change a little bit more.

“So the life is quite difficult on the boat because it’s very much heeled, and very much movement, very bumpy, a lot of slamming, so it’s tough. But we are moving at least and soon we will be making a change – maybe in two days. So anyway we are quite happy, in spite of the difficult conditions.” 

 

See all skippers quotes on www.imocaoceanmasters.com


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