Thursday, 10 February 2011

BWR: Mapfre Nearing Final Gate in the Indian Ocean

Iker and Xabi on board Mapfre. Image copyright

by Helena Paz

The forecasts have come true and Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández, skippers on “MAPFRE” in the Barcelona World Race have started to drop speed during the past few hours of competition. The leading IMOCA Open 60, “Virbac Paprec 3” has managed to push up speeds above the Spanish duo’s current average, now standing at 14 knots, as they hold second place in the general rankings, some 496.2 miles (919 km) from the leader, now slowly running ahead en route to the Western coast of Australia.

The area of the squall that Iker and Xabi found themsleves in yesterday did not help matters for the Olympic champions, as Xabi explained:”We are fast, but in an area of the squall that isn’t very comfortable to sail in, with lots of shifty breeze, both in terms of direction and speed and five solid hours concentrated on making the boat run was tough on us.” Despite this, the sailors from the towns of Hondarribia and Ibarra in Guipuzcoa, Basque Country, have managed to cover a total of 326 miles (603.7 km) in 24 hours.

Iker and Xabi are now headed for the third safety waypoint of the Indian Ocean, now 60 miles ahead (111.1 km), whilst Jean Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron, skippers on “Virbac paprec 3” have got away to the South on the same southeasterly course as the Spaniards having crossed the Amsterdam ice gate yesterday afternoon.

With this routing, Iker and Xabi cannot help but glance astern as a speedy “Estrella Damm” applies pressure from behind, 112.8 miles (209 km) away from the yacht’s stern. However, it looks like there may be a turnaround in the situation over the coming hours, with “MAPFRE” setting the pace and widening the gap. However, forecasts are pointing towards changes over the next 36 to 48 hours, with the leader pack possibly finding themselves without any breeze at all...

Despite the damp conditions on board and the discomfort experienced in these Southern oceanic latitiudes, the experience of “racing abeam the wind across the Indian Ocean at full speed” as Xabi described it in an email yesterday, sweetens the pill somewhat. There’s no forgetting, however, that with 36 days of competition under their belts, Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández still have 15,718 miles (29,109.7 km) ahead of them. It’s been said many times, and it’s tirelessly repeated, but “this is a very long race”. Not only that, but it is one where anything can happen.

Day 36 - 09:00 GMT.

1. VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 (Jean Pierre Dick - Loïck Peyron) FRA, 15,522 miles from finish
2. MAPFRE (Iker Martínez - Xabi Fernández) ESP, +496.2 miles
3. ESTRELLA DAMM SAILING TEAM (Alex Pella - Pepe Ribes) ESP, +609 miles
4. GROUPE BEL (Kito de Pavant - Sebastien Audigane) FRA, +652.4 miles
5. RENAULT Z. E. (Pachi Rivero - Antonio Piris) ESP, +936.4 miles
6. MIRABAUD (Dominique Wavre - Michéle Paret) SUI, +1,453.8 miles
7. NEUTROGENA FÓRMULA NORUEGA (Boris Herrmann - Ryan Breymaier) NOR, +1,489.2 miles
8. GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS (Dee Caffari - Anna Corbella) GBR/ESP, +2,173.9 miles
9. HUGO BOSS (Wouter Verbraak - Andy Meiklejohn) GBR, +2,371.4 miles
10. FÒRUM MARÍTIM CATALÀ (Gerard Marín - Ludovic Aglaor) ESP, +2,846.3
11. WE ARE WATER (Jaume Mumbrú - Cali Sanmartí) ESP, +2,966.9 miles
12. CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA (Juan Merediz - Fran Palacio) ESP, +3,133.2 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