For the first time ever Spain and Chile came together to compete in an IMOCA race with round the world sailor José Muñoz joining Spanish offshore veteran Guillermo Altadill aboard Team Neutrogena. While the boat is one of the most successful of the current crop of IMOCA 60s – she was Roland Jourdain’s 2010 Route du Rhum winner and, as Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson sailed her to 3rd place in the last Vendée Globe - her crew was still very unfamiliar both with their boat and sailing together when they started from New York two weeks ago.
Nonetheless Altadill and Muñoz consistently punched above their weight and, like a relentless terrier, were constantly nipping at the heels of the newer generation IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss.
In fact for the last 10 days they were clearly gunning for Hugo Boss, covering her every move and even pulled ahead of their rivals for 18 hours while near the Azores.
“Pepe and I are friends, albeit rivals on the water,” said Altadill on his arrival. “Since we started from New York, the strategy was to go follow them and put pressure on them. And that is what we did. Of course we are in the same team as well...”
Altadill paid tribute to his Chilean co-skipper as well as to their formidable yacht. Altadill had been its original skipper when it was launched as Estrella Damm in 2007.
“It is a boat I have known for years. It has gone through the hands of some great skippers and as they have used it, they have been improving it. All of that is what makes it possible for an older boat like ours to complete with some of the newer boats, thanks to the tweaking and improving that have been made to her over the years.”
After difficult conditions in the Mediterranean, Altadill said his happiest moment of the race was finishing. “It looked like we were faster and we had hopes to catch Hugo Boss if they got becalmed, but there were a couple of moments when there was no wind which they were faster out of. Then, especially yesterday, it seemed difficult to get close to them again.
“But it's been a good race to test everything: the boat, sails, ourselves, etc - 15 days of close competition with everyone, not only Hugo Boss, also GAES and Safran.
“Now I want to take a shower and eat something normal, because we did not carry much food on board and I am quite hungry.”
For José Muñoz, the race has proved an excellent learning curve for the Barcelona World Race in which he and Altadill will compete at the end of this year. “The best thing has been our good relationship and understanding in a race of this magnitude. It has been a great test.”
“Right now, I’d like to have a beer, take a shower, relax and communicate with my family…”