Friday, 21 January 2011

BWR: "Mapfre" Back on Track

Mapfre. Image copyright Maria Muina.

by Helena Paz

Iker Martínez, Xabi Fernández and their IMOCA Open 60 emerge from the lulls to become one of the fastest entries in the fleet at 18 knots
It would seem that the zone of lulls causing exasperation among the leader pack in the Barcelona World Race fleet yesterday have finally dissolved. “MAPFRE”, with Olympic champions Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández is back on track and taking flight with average speeds of 18 knots (33.3 km/h), a figure equalled by “Virbac Paprec 3” and only topped by “Foncia” by 0.7 knots.

With the lack of breeze behind them, the “MAPFRE” skippers are now on course South “to try to catch some low pressure moving southeast from Cabo Frío so that we can then begin a course East on a route to New Zealand,” Iker Martínez explained to Commander Juan Antonio Aguilar Cavanillas, Commander of the Spanish Navy's oceanographic research vessel, “Hespérides” who was in contact with “MAPFRE” via videoconference this morning.

So, between the entries positioned furthest West (“Foncia” and “Virbac Paprec 3”) and those positioned furthest East (“Mirabaud”, “Groupe Bel” and “Estrella Damm”), “MAPFRE” is taking a middle option.

The Spanish pair's entry has entered this new wind pattern later that the leader, however, they have enjoyed a better angle that has allowed them to go faster. There is no doubt that following their change of strategy Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández have had to work very hard with as many sail changes as necessary to take advantage of any hint of breeze. “Thanks to their efforts they have been able to hold on well, reaching new winds before they had expected,” said Eduardo Valderas, Head of Navigation Systems for Iker and Xabi's team.

“In general the fleet could have entered these more quickly, but the squalls off the St Helena High moved it further South and lengthened it from West to East,” explained Valderas.

Iker and Xabi have therefore entered the St Helena High with good conditions, well-positioned and able to gain South, most likely to attack it from the West and the South.

With some fairly optimistic forecasts for the next 48 hours, the Basque pair may reach the “Roaring Forties” (the very strong winds between 40ºS and 50ºS in the Southern oceans) within four or five days, whilst “MAPFRE” may reach the waypoint towards Wednesday next week. But that's another story...

“Foncia” steps on the gas

It's well worth making a note of French boat “Foncia”'s performance over the last few hours. As Iker Martínez had forecasted yesterday, Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart have been able to make the most both of their position and of good speeds over the past 29 hours and haven't ceased in cutting down the miles South, moving from ninth into second place in the provisional general rankings, according to the 14:00 GMT position report today.

Day 20 - 14:00 GMT

1. ESTRELLA DAMM SAILING TEAM (Alex Pella - Pepe Ribes) ESP, 20,457 miles from finish
2. FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux - François Gabart) FRA, +19.4 miles
3. GROUPE BEL (Kito de Pavant - Sebastien Audigane) FRA, +23.5 miles
4. VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 (Jean Pierre Dick - Loïck Peyron) FRA, +75.8 miles
5. MIRABAUD (Dominique Wavre - Michéle Paret) SUI, + 105.2 miles
6. MAPFRE (Iker Martínez - Xabi Fernández) ESP, +123 miles
7. RENAULT Z. E. (Pachi Rivero - Antonio Piris) ESP, +135.1 miles
8. GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS (Dee Caffari - Anna Corbella) GBR/ESP, +148.1 miles
9. NEUTROGENA FÓRMULA NORUEGA (Boris Herrmann - Ryan Breymaier) NOR, +151.7 miles
10. CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA (Juan Merediz - Fran Palacio) ESP, +277.2 miles
11. HUGO BOSS (Wouter Verbraak - Andy Meiklejohn) GBR, +296.7 miles
12. WE ARE WATER (Jaume Mumbrú - Cali Sanmartí) ESP, +316.2 miles
13. FÒRUM MARÍTIM CATALÀ (Gerard Marín - Ludovic Aglaor) ESP, +436.4 miles
** PRÉSIDENT (Jean le Cam - Bruno García) FRA/ESP, RACE ABANDONED

Barcelona World Race