Saturday, 22 January 2011

BWR: Mapfre in Pursuit of the Podium

Mapfre. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

by Mapfre media

Iker and Xabi are currently holding the best pace on the leaders and are now waiting for the opportunity to pounce on the Barcelona World Race podium once again
“The situation has changed for the better. Now we are sailing South, at 15 knots, with the breeze behind us. We've got water on deck once more and everything's a bit more uncomfortable as we are jostled around, but morale is definitely up as we can see that we are getting back in the race”. With these words Xabi opened the videoconference this Friday morning, on a day where the Spanish duo made up of Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández are yet again keeping “MAPFRE”s speed above the 16 knot mark.

Right now, the boat with the Olympic champions onboard is the entry best holding the powerful pace that the French fleet leaders “Foncia” and “Virbac Paprec 3” are setting for the regatta, They are also the boat adding fewest miles to the gap with the top two yachts.

“I think we are going to get out of here quite well in a couple of days, but the French entries are likely to do so some 300 miles ahead of us. It's not a case of who has the better boat here, but who is stronger and who sails better”, admits Xabi.

Double Olympic medallist Iker Martínez warned: “The last 24 hours have been very fast, with northeasterly breeze, but now things are calming down somewhat and we may have to suffer again, because it is likely that “Foncia” and Virbac Paprec 3” will continue like this all day with more wind on the beam and faster, whilst we will be getting wind from behind, but lighter... so this is a real struggle!”, he joked. “You have to push to the maximum the whole way!”.

Iker and Xabi are therefore waiting for the ideal opportunity to pounce on the podium once again and to position themselves as the fastest Spanish entry in the fleet. “Let's see if we can move in and position ourselves in third place shortly, as we are to the leeward side of everyone and we should be able to push forward into third”, explained Martínez.

New obligatory waypoint on the course

Iker also reminded us in today's videoconference that above all, it is important to remain calm and to go “steadily, although we are itching to get further down. Soon we'll hit the first ice gate”.

Before passing through the ice waypoint, the fleet will also have to put the Island of Gough to starboard, which is also known as the Island of Gonçalo Alvares, and is located in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, some 2,700 km from Cape Town (South Africa). The Barcelona World Race Directors set the safety waypoint on the 12th of January 2011 due to this year's movement North of floating ice. Just a few miles South of the gate there is a zone of icebergs which is very dangerous for sailing. The position of the waypoint will therefore mean that entries won't be able to choose a route to the South of the Atlantic Gate to then climb back up from South to North.

“Foncia” and “Virbac Paprec 3” set the pace

The progress of “Foncia” and “Virbac Paprec 3” hasn't left anyone cold, with their tactics proving themselves for all to see.

Both entries have positioned themselves back at the front of the fleet. “Foncia” with Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart has been leading since yesterday at 19:00 GMT whilst the previous Barcelona World Race winner Jean Pierre Dick and fellow skipper Loïck Peyron pounced on second place this morning, as the 09:00 GMT position reports revealed.

From onboard “MAPFRE” the skippers gave recognition to the great progress made by their rivals: “The two leading entries are doing very well, both in terms of the boat and crew. The main differences lie in navigation. They were where they needed to be and that is where they have really pushed ahead of us”, admitted Iker, from Hondarribia, northern Spain. He also took the opportunity to greet his friends from the Basque town who “came to see us off, and we could only see them for a minute. Hello guys!”.

“We are feeling more at ease every day, but this is a very long race and you have to tread carefully”, he continued. “The boats ahead aren't very far away from us. If they don't spread further apart we will be in the same southern system, which would be a really success for us, considering that the first part of the regatta was the hardest bit for us, both in terms of the boat and strategy. If we can salvage things here it would mean that we will have sailed a really good first third of the regatta”.

Day 21 - 14:00 GMT

1. FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux - François Gabart) FRA, 20,057.1 miles from finish
2. . VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 (Jean Pierre Dick - Loïck Peyron) FRA, +49.3 miles
3. ESTRELLA DAMM SAILING TEAM (Alex Pella - Pepe Ribes) ESP, +130.4 miles
4. GROUPE BEL (Kito de Pavant - Sebastien Audigane) FRA, +164 miles
5. MAPFRE (Iker Martínez - Xabi Fernández) ESP, +198.2 miles
6. MIRABAUD (Dominique Wavre - Michéle Paret) SUI, + 234.6 miles
7. RENAULT Z. E. (Pachi Rivero - Antonio Piris) ESP, +283.3 miles
8. NEUTROGENA FÓRMULA NORUEGA (Boris Herrmann - Ryan Breymaier) NOR, +296.9 miles
9. GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS (Dee Caffari - Anna Corbella) GBR/ESP, +350.6 miles
10. HUGO BOSS (Wouter Verbraak - Andy Meiklejohn) GBR, +430.7 miles
11. CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA (Juan Merediz - Fran Palacio) ESP, +451.8 miles
12. WE ARE WATER (Jaume Mumbrú - Cali Sanmartí) ESP, +499.3 miles
13. FÒRUM MARÍTIM CATALÀ (Gerard Marín - Ludovic Aglaor) ESP, +633.5 miles
** PRÉSIDENT (Jean le Cam - Bruno García) FRA/ESP, ABANDONED RACE

Barcelona World Race