Neutrogena, sailed by Barcelona's Guillermo Altadill and Chilean co-skipper José Munoz, should return into the Mediterranean this evening. The duo were expected to slow slightly as the winds diminish as they get closer to the pillars of Hercules but they should be passed Gibraltar during the evening. At 1400hrs UTC this afternoon they had less than 60 miles to go.
A slow Mediterrenean is on the cards as high pressure will slowly drift over the Iberian peninsula. Altadill and Munoz have had to go back to basics receiving only limited weather information since their communications have been compromised since March 5th and the crash gybe they subsequently reported.
And for all that the vastly experienced Altadill will have been using his knowledge of Atlantic to best effect to plot their route home, now the return to coastal effects racing along a stretch of water which is essentially the playground that he cut his offshore racing teeth in,
Altadill will be in his element, sniffing out the thermal breezes, avoiding the potholes of the biggest calms, and knitting it all together, knowing that a commendable, hard earned second place is all but theirs. and triumphant welcome will be in store for the local hero who had set so much store in his first edition of the race from which he had to retire into Cape Town with rudder problems on Estrella Damm. Neutrogena should finish into Barcelona Tuesday afternoon.
There will be a period now for Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin to close a few miles back to second placed Neutrogena as they remain in stronger NE'ly breezes meantime until they too fall into lighter winds. Indeed this afternoon GAES Centros Auditivos, upwind, are just over one knot quicker than Neutrogena who will gybe downwind through the Straits. But these final miles, essentially from the Canaries north, are familiar to Corbella and Marin and to the One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton duo, on occasional ocean training sorties out from the FNOB based in Barcelona during their build up period. Once more One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton are defying expectations and sailing quicker upwind than their rivals, 150 miles to their west, We Are Water. Current routeings have the two Catalan IMOCA 60's only hours apart at Gibraltar, too close to call right now. And for sure the Mediterranean may well decide the outcome of this fascinating duel.
Aleix Gelabert on One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton:"We keep a close eye on them, while they are still parallel to us, about 150 miles west. Now think, in the medium term, the best way to approach without losing Gibraltar seen what they do to try to keep the small advantage we have. " We are currently sailing with good trade winds. We keep an eye on We Are Water, which is still sailing parallel to us at 150 miles west. Now we look at the options for the mid term perspective to decide which is the best way to get close to Gibraltar keepin on top of what they might do and holding on to the small advantage we have. Tonight it seems like the weed has disappeared and that allows us to rest a little bit more and get focused on moving faster. I was saying earlier to Didac that the only shame of being in the middle of the Atlantic is having missed out on the celebration that, for sure, Jean and Bernard must have enjoyed on their arrival and listening the new fresh stories of those great skippers, who are able to make the most difficult things look easy. They held on to a very high race rhythm that has progressively left their opponents behind. And, correspondingly from the rival IMOCA 60 in their west, Bruno Garcia on We Are Water: "The last few days since the Doldrums, which were bad enough, have been a reminder that this is an endurance race. Willy's muscle pain seems to be relieved a bit, I still have a bit of a sore shoulder and a stiff neck, nothing serious but just a bit uncomfortable. We are just quite tired physically. We are learning progressively about sailing these IMOCA boats, such as a quick course in plumbing. The water ballast tanks seem to have formed a closer relationship than we would like. They are secretly sharing water with each other through the fill and drain pipes which link the tanks. So now you could fill both or empty both by mistake. Last night was a bit of a panic when the the bow tank cover popped off and we almsot flooded the batteries. Luckily Willy realised the situation, luckily, and reacted very quickly and we sorted it out together within an h our. But we were as wet as fish and sweating like you would not believe. Whoever said this bit is easy? "
Meanwhile, the Renault Captur is about 70 miles crossing from crossing the Equator and into the northern hemisphere.