Neutrogena at Cabo de Gata, the final climb to an emotional Barcelona Welcome Renault Captur back across the Equator GAES Centros Auditivos approach Gibraltar
It's small Cape, a local Spanish landmark, but it could be argued that it's the most definitive one of the Barcelona World Race. Cape Horn may be the biggest challenge of the two handed round the world race, but if you are not passing Cabo de Gata on the SE corner of Spain you are not finishing.
Cabo de Gata is the last mainland toehold on the climb up the Mediterranean to the finish line, quite often heralding a weather transition zone. After passing Gibraltar (Tarifa 5 deg 37 W) last night at 1740hrs UTC Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz had a good passage making four gybes downwind in breezes up to 15kts. A slow-down before dawn this morning proved temporary as they worked the Andalusian coast and refused to stray east into the clutches of the Alboaran Sea. And so the Catalan-Chilean duo, who are set to take second place - will pass Cabo de Gata later this afternoon and start the last ascentfor home. Neutrogena are now forecast to cross the finish line in Barcelona at around 1730hrs UTC Monday evening. Barcelona will no doubt lay on an emotional welcome for one of its favourite, most sucessful and well known round the world racers, who will complete his seventh circumnavigation.
For Altadill second place would complete his unfinishe d business with this race as well as being one of the standout results of a career which has mostly spanned fullt crewed challenges of all types. He started the inaugural edition of the race, sailing this same boat which was originally built for him as Estrella Damm, but had to retire into South Africa. For the Chilean José Muñoz, this will be his second circumnavigation,following the Global Ocean Race with his friend the late Felipe Cubillos.
Meantime at over four hundred miles astern there must be an acceptance on board GAES Centros Auditivos that second is now well beyond their reach. Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin were 230 miles to the Gibraltar Straits this afternoon, making 13.2kts, and should return to their home Mediterranean Sunday afternoon, arriving Barcelona on the morning of Thursday 2nd April.
One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton battle on, trying to protect their leverage to the east of We Are Water.Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa have done a good job so far, 20 miles forwards in terms of latitude, though the separation east west to the Garcia brothers is still over 130 miles. And over the morning to afternoon schedule report they have been making 11.9 knots, compared with 10.2 for the Garcia brothers. But over 24 hours their averages are almost identical: 10.7 and 10.8 knots.
Back in their half of the world
On Renault Captur Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane are back in the northern hemisphere. The German and French pairing have crossed the Equator at 0553hrs UTC only having a small loss of speed through the Doldrums thanks to their very westerly passage. And now they are in to the NE'ly trade winds.
Only Spirit of Hungary remain in the South Atlantic. Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman continue to work hard in the middle of a very complicated weather scenario, as Colman explained. "We have been caught for days now in a bubbling mess of troughs and ridges, a turbulent transition zone without clean wind extending eastwards from the coast for over a thousand miles. With our route thus barred, we have had no choice but to slowly fight our way through, like aquajogging through molasses. Even as the boat has slowed our pace on board has increased. The “calms” we have encountered are actually a slow moving dance between warring parcels of air, a dynamic equilibrium between opposing forces. As these systems butt heads, ground won or lost by either side sends the wind spinning in circles so we tack and gybe, furl and unfurl ad infinitum under starry skies or blistering hot days. I am sporting a wide brimmed hat and coats of sunscreen whereas Nandor has ripped up an old Tshirt and is now sporting a rather fetching Laurence of Arabia look. We have been busy on the maintenance side too, first with our key hole surgery on the winch pedestal, followed 36 hours later by a complete rebuild. The charger for the engine starting battery fell victim to humidity from our previous problem with the keel bolts but we rigged a up the power cable from the bilge pump in its place. We mainly get 100% clean energy from the boat’s movement through the water via our hydrogenerators but with speeds slowing we need the engine to charge the batteries. This is essential, as we need to power the instruments but also the water maker! With sweat pouring off us we are incredibly dependent on this alchemy of diesel into fresh water.
Keep in mind that all these maneuvers have been done with one hand on my part. During my most recent watch I was still able to furl the solent jib, set the J1/ Genoa, gybe the boat and grind on the backstays… all with my right arm. When we do jobs together, I step in on the pedestal winch with Nandor but I feel terrible that by only contributing one side I am asking him to do half of my share too. Still, he sa ys that this solo training has been incredibly useful for his future sailing. The pain in my shoulder has reduced to a dull ache and while I have recovered most of my range of movement I fear that I have certainly damaged either the inner cup of the joint, the labrum, or stretched the tendons somewhat. My joint now feels like a small hand in a large glove. It works, but you can’t help feeling that there’s a little more room than you need."