Thursday, 17 February 2011

BWR: Mapfre Holds Speed Despite the Calm

Mapfre. Image copyright Maria Muina.

by Helena Paz

The mystery surrounding the possible effects of the high pressure in the Tasman Sea where the regatta leader pack is sailing is slowly fading away. The anticyclone continues to move East and it looks like “MAPFRE” with Olympic champions Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández have crossed it through the middle at the right time, although they are not quite ready to let their guard down yet. The Basque pair continues in second place and are moving away from the third placed entry. They also received news yesterday of leader “Virbac Paprec 3”'s stopover in Wellington.

During the past five hours “MAPFRE” has been able to pursue her approach towards Cook Strait at 13.2 knots averages, compared with the 2.5 knots being notched up by most immediate rival “Estrella Damm” between 04:00 and 09:00 GMT.

Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández have gained a total of 81.6 miles on the IMOCA Open 60 crewed by Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella over the past 24 hours. In the Southern daytime, and Europe's night the rival Spanish crew found themselves halted by a lull, which gave the skippers a chance to thoroughly check the yacht and carry out some repairs before reaching Cook Strait.

“Groupe Bel” hasn't fared too badly either in the high, having stayed West of it and heading on an almost straight line course to Cape Farewell, to the North of the South Island of New Zealand, maintaining the pace of “MAPFRE” and even moving in 35 miles closer.

Another technical pitstop for the leader

Last night “Virbac Paprec 3” announced that they would be making a second technical pitstop in the regatta so far. The French entry has been in the New Zealand's capital port since 10:11 GMT to carry out some minor but fundamental repairs to the mainsail tracks, according to reports from the race organisers.

In the previous edition of the regatta three boats stopped in Wellington. In this race so far two entries officially plan to do so: “Virbac Paprec 3” and “Groupe Bel”. The pitstop incurs an automatic 48 hours penalty for a stop after 140º East, as indicated in the Race Instructions for the Barcelona World Race. That means Jean Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron won't be back racing until Friday at the same time GMT.

Meanwhile, “MAPFRE” and the rest of the fleet will have the chance to cut down the gaps. The last word, as ever, will be in the hands of the force of the breeze.

Day 47 - 09:00 GMT

1. VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 (Jean Pierre Dick - Loïck Peyron) FRA, 11,531.5 miles from finish
2. MAPFRE (Iker Martínez - Xabi Fernández) ESP, +508 miles from leader
3. ESTRELLA DAMM SAILING TEAM (Alex Pella - Pepe Ribes) ESP, +726.1 miles
4. GROUPE BEL (Kito de Pavant - Sebastien Audigane) FRA, +829.6 miles
5. RENAULT Z. E. (Pachi Rivero - Antonio Piris) ESP, +1,229.9 miles
6. MIRABAUD (Dominique Wavre - Michéle Paret) SUI, +1,572 miles
7. NEUTROGENA FÓRMULA NORUEGA (Boris Herrmann - Ryan Breymaier) NOR, +1,597.4 miles
8. HUGO BOSS (Wouter Verbraak - Andy Meiklejohn) GBR, +1.836.4 miles
9. GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS (Dee Caffari - Anna Corbella) GBR/ESP, +2,015.2 miles
10. FÒRUM MARÍTIM CATALÀ (Gerard Marín - Ludovic Aglaor) ESP, +3,792.7 miles
11. CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA (Juan Merediz - Fran Palacio) ESP, +4,109 miles
12. WE ARE WATER (Jaume Mumbrú - Cali Sanmartí) ESP, +4,499.8 miles
** FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux - François Gabart) FRA, RACE ABANDONED 26th January.
** PRÉSIDENT (Jean le Cam - Bruno García) FRA/ESP, RACE ABANDONED 12th January

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