Friday, 4 February 2011

BWR: The Amsterdam Gate Ahead

Iker and Xabi. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

by Helena Paz

Holding strong in second place in the general rankings, Iker and Xabi's “MAPFRE” heads for the third gate on the South Indian Ocean stretch of the course
Having notched up the fastest sustained speed over a 60 minute period in this edition of the Barcelona World Race yesterday, some 26.8 knots (almost 50 km/hr), “MAPFRE” with Olympic champions Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández continues to progress along the Indian Ocean towards the next gate on the course: Amsterdam, named as such due to its proximity to the southern French territory island of the same name.

With the Crozet gate behind them, Iker and Xabi have been enjoying a front which has allowed them to devour miles over the last few days, putting them 424.8 nautical miles (786.7 km) from leader “Virbac Paprec 3”. They continue their course Southeast, which means that, if they haven't already hit it, they'll soon find themselves in a transitional zone.

As with the descent of the Atlantic, where the double Olympic champions opted for a middle route between the East and West options available, Iker and Xabi have chosen their own routing across the South Indian Ocean, and rather than follow the trail of the leader, they have chosen to stay further North to pass the gates of Crozet and Amsterdam. This option is most likely to have been motivated by the desire to push forward with South-Southwesterly winds and to find “more stable seas in the same direction as the wind”, as Iker said he preferred a few days ago.

With a lateral distance with “Virbac Paprec 3” of just over 100 miles, once the skippers are out of the squall transitional zone a better reading can be made of the tactical choice. It will be at the Amsterdam gate where we'll see who has come off best: those opting for the North (Iker and Xabi) or those choosing South (Dick and Peyron).

Whilst the “MAPFRE” skippers have continued to notch up average speeds of over 18 knots during the past 24 hours, a constant and high average which has allowed the Spaniards to cover 450.4 miles (834.1 km) on the last day's run, the second fastest average in the fleet was another Spanish entry with skippers Ribes and Pella.

Changes among rivals

In terms of the competition astern, “Estrella Damm” recouped third place this morning, pushing French entry “Groupe Bel” off the podium, although just 12.1 miles separate the entries, according to this afternoon's 14:00 GMT position report. It's still too early to say what strategies the entires will favour in terms of crossing the squall transitional zone, and it's a case of waiting to see how the competition plays out.

Day 34 - 14:00 GMT

1. VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 (Jean Pierre Dick - Loïck Peyron) FRA, 15,944.8 miles from finish.
2. MAPFRE (Iker Martínez - Xabi Fernández) ESP, 424.8 miles
3. ESTRELLA DAMM SAILING TEAM (Alex Pella - Pepe Ribes) ESP, 549.2 miles
4. GROUPE BEL (Kito de Pavant - Sebastien Audigane) FRA, 561.3 miles
5. RENAULT Z. E. (Pachi Rivero - Antonio Piris) ESP, 764.9 miles
6. MIRABAUD (Dominique Wavre - Michéle Paret) SUI, 1,314 miles
7. NEUTROGENA FÓRMULA NORUEGA (Boris Herrmann - Ryan Breymaier) NOR, 1,344,9 miles
8. GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS (Dee Caffari - Anna Corbella) GBR/ESP, 1,936.7 miles
9. HUGO BOSS (Wouter Verbraak - Andy Meiklejohn) GBR, 2,182 miles
10. WE ARE WATER (Jaume Mumbrú - Cali Sanmartí) ESP, 2,449.2 miles
11. CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA (Juan Merediz - Fran Palacio) ESP, 2,561 miles
12. FÒRUM MARÍTIM CATALÀ (Gerard Marín - Ludovic Aglaor) ESP, ** GHOST MODE**
** PRÉSIDENT (Jean le Cam - Bruno García) FRA/ESP, RACE ABANDONED 12th January
** FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux - François Gabart) FRA, RACE ABANDONED 26th January

Barcelona World Race