Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Iker and Xabi prepare for a new windless pocket that may push the leader pack back together within the next 24 hours
Mapfre. Image copyright Maria Muina.
by Mapfre media
Day 31 in the Barcelona World Race, and it's not much been much fun lately for “MAPFRE”. Nobody likes beating against the breeze and that is exactly what the skippers on ESP-45 have been doing: Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández. Iker Martínez explained in the video conference with the Spanish boat today at midday: “We've got through one of the ice gates and now we are beating upwind (against the wind) towards the next one at 20 knots. We're sailing with a staysail and the ballast tanks full up. We're going slowly, because there's a limit to how fast you can go upwind, and therefore it's not as fun either, but it does mean we can rest a bit, as we've had some pretty tough days.”
The coming hours will be as intense as they will be delicate, as Iker explained, with himself and co-skipper Xabi Fernández fighting to emerge from the light winds: “In 24 hours or so we'll reach an area with very little wind. We'll have to see where we go through to get out as quickly as possible. That will be the important thing over the next few days.”
During the last 24 hours the “MAPFRE” skippers have covered the most ground in the fleet: a total of 375.8 (696 km). They also continue to move in on the leader, now 34.1 miles (63.1 km) closer to their bow, although Iker says “it's almost impossible for us to reach the zone they are in,” referring to “Virbac Paprec 3”. “We have to play around a bit with the lows and see how we'll get through this area with no wind.”
There is also news among the Spanish entry's closest rivals. Competition is red hot with fourth place “Groupe Bel” threatening third place “Estrella Damm”'s position in the rankings. The crew, made up of Kito Pavant and Sebastien Audigane hasn't ceased in cutting down the gap with Ribes and Pella, moving in as close as 17.9 miles (33.1 km) according to this morning's 09:00 GMT position report. This is a struggle that might allow “MAPFRE” to focus more than ever on the leader, whilst those on their tail are caught up in their own battles.
Iker said: “I imagine, as we get closer to the area with no wind, we'll get pushed closer together. It looks like after that some wind will move in and we'll have a few days of making progress.”
Three hours sleep a day
With work onboard an IMOCA Open 60 'slower' than on a Volvo Open 70, but “a lot more drawn out,” it is not easy to top up your sleep hours, however much one has trained. “Manoeuvres come when they come, the wind changes when it changes and in the end we must both be ready for anything,” reflected Iker in today's video conference.
Hour of sleep onboard a boat crewed by just two, are considerably reduced, especially in tough sailing conditions. “Well, you don't get a lot of sleep. When there's wind you get two maybe three hours a day and when things are calmer you might get a little more, but not much more,” said Iker.
That number of hours would be tough on anyone in the comfort of dry land, but what do they mean for someone out in the middle of the ocean, competing 24 hours a day for three months, getting physically tested to the maximum?
Well, it's like being on another planet.
Day 31 - 09:00 GMT
1. VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 (Jean Pierre Dick - Loïck Peyron) FRA, 16,937.6 miles from finish
2. MAPFRE (Iker Martínez - Xabi Fernández) ESP, +575.3 miles
3. ESTRELLA DAMM SAILING TEAM (Alex Pella - Pepe Ribes) ESP, +681.5 miles
4. GROUPE BEL (Kito de Pavant - Sebastien Audigane) FRA, +699.4 miles
5. RENAULT Z. E. (Pachi Rivero - Antonio Piris) ESP, +834.9 miles
6. MIRABAUD (Dominique Wavre - Michéle Paret) SUI, +1,200.3 miles
7. NEUTROGENA FÓRMULA NORUEGA (Boris Herrmann - Ryan Breymaier) NOR, +1,261.2 miles
8. GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS (Dee Caffari - Anna Corbella) GBR/ESP, +1,519.8 miles
9. HUGO BOSS (Wouter Verbraak - Andy Meiklejohn) GBR, +1,927.6 miles
10. CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA (Juan Merediz - Fran Palacio) ESP, +1,997 miles
11. WE ARE WATER (Jaume Mumbrú - Cali Sanmartí) ESP, +2,004.6 miles
12. FÒRUM MARÍTIM CATALÀ (Gerard Marín - Ludovic Aglaor) ESP, +2,122.9 miles
** 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