Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Speeds at the top of the fleet have dropped over the past 24 hours thanks to the light winds from the high pressure affecting the Tasman Sea
Mapfre. Image copyright Mapfre.
by Helena Paz
The anticyclone has caught up with the yachts at the top of the Barcelona World Race fleet, as the average speeds of the three leading entries clearly demonstrate. “MAPFRE” with Olympic champions Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández on board is the entry suffering the most from the light winds, pushing forward at speeds of just 8.5 knots according to the most recent position reports and 12 knots over the past 24 hours.
It seems that “MAPFRE” has finally decided to approach New Zealand with her bow pointing further North than during previous days, while most direct rival “Estrella Damm” (136.5 miles from the Basque duo) has chosen to follow a Northeasterly routing.
Fleet leader “Virbac Paprec 3” is approaching the northern tip of New Zealand's South island and is leaving the sticky pressure situation behind. She has pushed somewhat away from “MAPFRE” who despite sailing two knots slower than the French have managed to ensure that the gap has been widened just 17.6 miles further than the distance separating Iker and Xabi's entry from “Virbac Paprec 3” yesterday, now 510.8 miles in front of the double Olympic medallists.
So the anticyclone continues to dominate in the Tasman Sea, although forecasts from official regatta meteorologist Marcel Van Triest suggest that to the South of the anticyclone there is a passage of western winds which are stronger the further South one heads.
“MAPFRE” can see fourth placed entry “Groupe Bel” faring better whilst attacking from the West and becoming the fastest of the top four entries during Europe's night-time. This was again the case for the 09:00 GMT position report.
Now 200 miles from the West coast of New Zealand, for Iker and Xabi this will practically the first land they've seen since the Gibraltar Strait, now 41 days ago. “MAPFRE” and “Estrella Damm” look set to face the most difficult final approach to the land of the Kiwi, with the lulls affecting them more directly than their rivals, whilst at the same time stoking up the fiery battle between these two Spanish crews.
Who will push forward despite the high? Who will find themselves stopped in their tracks? Or will either entry be seriously affected? The answers to those questions will be revealed over the next 48 hours.
Day 46 - 09:00 GMT
1. VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 (Jean Pierre Dick - Loïck Peyron) FRA, 11,626.7 miles from finish
2. MAPFRE (Iker Martínez - Xabi Fernández) ESP, 510.8 miles
3. ESTRELLA DAMM SAILING TEAM (Alex Pella - Pepe Ribes) ESP, 647.3 miles
4. GROUPE BEL (Kito de Pavant - Sebastien Audigane) FRA, 867.5 miles
5. RENAULT Z. E. (Pachi Rivero - Antonio Piris) ESP, 1,337.9 miles
6. MIRABAUD (Dominique Wavre - Michéle Paret) SUI, 1,694.8 miles
7. NEUTROGENA FÓRMULA NORUEGA (Boris Herrmann - Ryan Breymaier) NOR, 1,717.3 miles
8. HUGO BOSS (Wouter Verbraak - Andy Meiklejohn) GBR, 1,951.5 miles
9. GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS (Dee Caffari - Anna Corbella) GBR/ESP, 2,097 miles
10. FÒRUM MARÍTIM CATALÀ (Gerard Marín - Ludovic Aglaor) ESP, 3.904,5 millas
11. CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA (Juan Merediz - Fran Palacio) ESP, 4,175 miles
12. WE ARE WATER (Jaume Mumbrú - Cali Sanmartí) ESP, 4,409.7 miles
** FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux - François Gabart) FRA, RACE ABANDONED 26th January.
** PRÉSIDENT (Jean le Cam - Bruno García) FRA/ESP, RACE ABANDONED 12th January.
Barcelona World Race