Saturday, 12 March 2011

BWR: The Big Stretch North

- Virbac-Paprec 3 stretch north into the trades
- Hugo Boss and GAES Centros Auditivos next to pass Cape Horn, Hugo Boss leading the GAES Girls by 70 miles.
- South Atlantic shakes up opportunities for all

We Are Water leave Wellington. Image copyright Mike Clare/DPPI/Barcelona World Race.

by Barcelona World Race media

Logically it was expected by both the co-skippers of Virbac-Paprec 3 and by MAPFRE. The long time leaders Loick-Peyron and Jean-Pierre Dick had some confidence that they would escape first from the south Atlantic high pressure system which had snared them for more than 48 hours.

With their more westerly course, closer to the centre of the anticyclone and so in lighter winds, Spanish Olympic medallists Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez were hopeful that they could still get sufficiently close to their rivals to reach the exit of the high pressure in close touch.

Even though the odds were very much in favour of the French duo getting out first, Jean-Pierre Dick still described life in the anticyclone like being in a ‘game of roulette’, but since Wednesday night it has been Virbac-Paprec 3 which, for the moment, have collected.

MAPFRE’s torment has continued through most of Thursday, making only 80 miles in the 24 hours to 1400hrs UTC this afternoon while Virbac-Paprec 3 have averaged three times their speed and now lead by 347 miles. The Spanish duo are expected to start to escape tonight, emerging into the light trade winds which have allowed the French pair an express departure.

The weather picture in the south Atlantic is looking like it will offer an equal mix of challenges and opportunities. For the leaders the light trade-winds mean a generally disorganised, broad Doldrums at the moment. And beyond that the Mediterranean very early Spring can offer every kind of sting in the tail.

But for the chasing peloton the odds improve all the time for the pack comprising Neutrogena, Mirabaud, Estrella Damm, and then – increasingly - Hugo Boss and GAES Centros Auditivos. A low pressure system which is building off the Falklands not only opens the door to the South American coast, but provides something of a fast moving, downwind conveyor belt ride in flat water, saving many miles on the easterly route around the south Atlantic high pressure.

For Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella, expected at Cape Horn tomorrow night on GAES Centros Auditivos, such a scenario would reprise Caffari’s Vendèe Globe where she was able to short cut and catch up miles on the ascent of the Atlantic. The race’s only female duo look set to reach Cape Horn as the first pair to have suffered no significant injury or ill-health to themselves or to their IMOCA Open 60 over the 20,000 miles and 70 days of racing.

Speaking live to the Global Sports Forum, a gathering of sports administration and promotion professionals in Barcelona, debating the future avenues and developments of sport, Caffari said today:

“It’s all about managing your time and managing how you run the boat, and knowing when to back off when things are a little bit too much. The last 24-48 hours have been pretty intense for us, so actually I’m feeling quite tired now, but knowing it’s the last push to get to the corner is quite a good focus. The weather in the Atlantic will hopefully give us a bit of a break, but it is never-ending and it is quite soul-destroying that every time you think you can get a sleep you need to do a sail change. But it’s all worth it, and it’s just managing your sleep and your expectations. Last night we took it easy and that allowed us to re-catch up on some sleep a little bit.”

In Ushuaia Kito De Pavant and Seb Audigane were due start work with their shore team today to lift Groupe Bel out of the water to make a proper technical assessment of their keel problem:

“The keel was swinging longitudinally at a height of over a meter. The noise was so loud that we got the impression that we were slamming into each wave. We also have a small leak, since the ram has made a small hole in the hull. We were conscious of the danger. The watchword was safety and we had to anticipate the eventuality of capsizing. Everything was ready. The compartments were hermetically sealed and we stayed in our survival suits continuously. We were also ready to spend time in the overturned boat, if necessary.” Reported de Pavant today.

Andy Meiklejohn on board HUGO BOSS. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/HUGO BOSS.

Rankings at 1400hrs Thursday 10th March

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 4859,5 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE at 347,3 miles to leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at 1205,3 miles to leader
4 NEUTROGENA at 1531,1 miles to leader
5 MIRABAUD at 1657 miles to leader
6 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 1660 miles to leader
7 GROUPE BEL at 1997,7 miles to leader
8 HUGO BOSS at 2380,3 miles to leader
9 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 2451,2 miles to leader
10 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 4402,4 miles to leader
11 WE ARE WATER at 6558,3 miles to leader
12 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 6690,8 miles to leader


Loick Peyron (FRA) Virbac-Paprec 3

“It’s not new for me to do a round the world race. This is my third chance to do a round the world race, the first one I was alone, that was 20 years ago, the second was a crewed race, when we started from Barcelona again, 10 years ago in a big cat. And this time we are two-handed, which is quite interesting. The ways of sailing and racing when you are all alone, or with crew or doublehanded, are really different.

“The other big difference compared to everything I’ve done before is that I’m not the skipper, I’m the co-skipper, I’m the crew of Jean-Pierre. You don’t have all the responsibility of the whole project, you just have to do your job.

“On these kind of races – or any kind of race, whether it’s just between 3 buoys or around the world – the biggest challenge is to try to finish the race. The best way to finish a race is to win it, but the best way to win it is to finish it.

“It could be a definite challenge [to live together for 69 days on board. For sure it’s not comfortable, for sure it’s really noisy, it’s really wet. But we choose this game. And there are so many other reasons to suffer we have absolutely no reasons to complain.”

Dee Caffari (GBR), GAES Centros Auditivos:

“I think we had the worst of the weather yesterday, we’ve got a pretty straight run in now. But the wind’s a little bit inconsistent, a little bit up and down in the gusts and the squalls. But we’re just taking it a little bit easy now, not wanting to break anything with less than 450 miles to go. It’s nice knowing that that corner is coming closer.

“It’s all about managing your time and managing how you run the boat, and knowing when to back off when things are a little bit too much. The last 24-48 hours have been pretty intense for us, so actually I’m feeling quite tired now, but knowing it’s the last push to get to the corner is quite a good focus. The weather in the Atlantic will hopefully give us a bit of a break, but it is never-ending and it is quite soul-destroying that every time you think you can get a sleep you need to do a sail change. But it’s all worth it, and it’s just managing your sleep and your expectations. Last night we took it easy and that allowed us to re-catch up on some sleep a little bit.

“The South Atlantic is known for being quite complex in its weather and it would be an ideal opportunity to close the gap. I was really lucky two years ago in the Vendee Globe and I’m hoping I can have that luck again, and close on the guys in front because the race is still going on, there’s a long way to go.

“I’m pretty happy that all those little niggles that we’ve had on the boat we’ve managed, there’s nothing we haven’t overcome, so I’m pretty confident we can go for it big time in the Atlantic. Once we’re in warmer weather I think Anna’s going to feel more confident and more comfortable so that’ll be good as well.

“Anna’s doing really well, as for me learning Spanish that isn’t going well but her English is getting really good. But she’s definitely Mediterranean, the sun and the warmth are what she’s longing for. I think the novelty value of the Southern Ocean has worn off now.

“I’ve had a whole mixture of Cape Horn roundings, my first one was horrendous, my second one I was almost becalmed and I got all my photos taken then, and the third one we know all about the big storm in the Vendée Globe. So I’m hoping this one I’ll have decent wind, get a nice photo for Anna, and then turn the corner and charge down the rest of the guys!”

Neutrogena. Image copyright Boris Herrmann/Neutrogena.

Ryan Breymaier (USA) Neutrogena:

“It’s a little bit damp again, we’re on our favourite point of sail going upwind! Life is okay, we rounded the Horn, and had a little problem straight afterwards – yet again! – and fixed that, and have been going upwind every since basically. So it’s not too bad all things considered.

“The solent headstay on our boat is the second one aft, that is held onto the rig with a metal fitting which also spins so you can roll up the sail. That fitting broke in half so the sail, which was in use at the time, fell directly in the water to leeward of the boat, and in a big mess. So we pulled it all back on board first, took the cable out of the sail and lashed the cable back into place to support the mast, so we more or less put it back in place because it supports the rig. But we don’t have any metal on it at this point so we’re missing our solent jib, which is a 15-25 knots sail.

“First of all we’re very happy with where we are in the fleet. To manage to stay ahead of these other boats with having the trouble that we do, we’re pretty lucky and I think the boat’s still moving pretty well for having had so many things adding up to a pretty decent loss in potential. As far as the weather situation goes we’re going upwind right now, trying to get as far to the west as possible because there’s a little low spinning off the land and we want to be on the downwind side of it, on the western side of it when it does arrive, so we’re trying to do that, and trying to get the boat back to as high a percentage of its potential as possible. The loss of that sail is not hurting us nearly as bad as we expected it to, we’re just using the trinquet which is the smaller one, or the staysail, and we seem to go upwind with that without a whole lot of worries. So at the moment we’re doing fine and after that we should go downwind where we’re not affected.

“I’m not sure that I got stressed out for Bilou, just like when he watches us he says ‘Yeah, they have a problem,’ but he has confidence that we’re going to be able to fix it without any worries. I think the same goes for us, when I watched his Vendée I thought whatever problem he had he’s just going to work through it and it’s going to be fine.

“The sky is fairly blue, we’re going upwind in 22 knots of breeze and rolling waves, it’s not short chop or anything so the boat’s still moving well. It’s starting to warm up a bit already. For sure going upwind is not my favourite point of sail, but the Atlantic is much nicer than the Pacific for the moment.

“I worry about Estrella Damm all the time. I haven’t heard anything about whether their boat is 100 per cent or not, I have to assume that it is and they’re going to be very quick. Mirabaud – I hope Michele is doing okay these days, they don’t seem to be going that fast so it seems to me he’s [Dominique Wavre] probably sailing fairly solitarily at the moment, but both boats if they’re in better shape than we are at the moment have a good chance of passing us before this is over.”

Jean Pierre Dick (FRA) Virbac-Paprec 3: “We chose to sail east of the Saint-Helena anticyclone, avoiding getting too close to the centre of this high pressure area where there’s no wind. We sailed round it at a distance of roughly 200 miles. Our calculation was a good one. It was a wager; we bet on a long term strategy favouring safety. In these conditions you must accept the “bungee effect”, i.e. you give away miles to widen the gap later.”

Jaume Mumbru (ESP) We Are Water

“We’re happy to be back at sea, sailing east into the Pacific, so we’re happy and in a good mood because the boat is in good shape. It wasn’t hard at all [to restart]. We have to sail across the whole Pacific, we have Cape Horn in front, the season is getting late so in fact it was a relief to get on sailing because the sooner the better. We felt that we needed to start sailing towards Cape Horn.

“We are happy, we were saying that the Kiwi push that we have had here has been fantastic. The people here, the local sail maker, everybody, they have understood what we are doing and we really needed their help and they have just been there all the hours necessary. At the end we feel that we have really taken a step forward and that we have made the right decision, and we are pushing forward our project and our ambition of arriving in Barcelona inside the race.

“We didn’t take any more fuel because we had enough, our numbers were always for 120 days and we are keeping well in fuel because our charging system is working well.

“We didn’t take a lot of food because we were okay in that, just some fresh food and little things. We’re trying not to eat some many rehydrated foods, so we took 5kgs of pasta with different sauces, so we plan to eat solid pasta meals every day at least here in the southern ocean. A lot of tuna – a LOT of tuna! – so we can put in our rice. And we took some chocolate as well, but not many more things. We share the food and we have a very good communication, food is the moment where we both sit together for one meal a day, so no-one is eating the chocolate behind the other one’s back!

“We have always been conservative in our race since we entered the Southern Ocean. That has been a strategy which we have always followed, we never, never broke our conservative strategy. We’re just going to sail exactly the same. We have been extremely careful, we were careful in the ocean, when we took some shelter in the Cook Strait because we want to keep the boat in one piece. So we’re going to do exactly what we’ve been doing. We’re trying to be regular, to be solid, not to put our boat – which is a good boat, but it deserves a lot of care. Just sail safe, trying to anticipate a lot with our sail changes and make sure when you get these big loads you have the right sailcloth and the right set-up of the boat.

“In our Tasman Sea we had three storms on a roll and I think we are the only boat that had 50 knots in the Cook Strait on the nose and a high tide. It seems like in the Pacific they’re going to treat us better, at least for the beginning, as we have a nice weather forecast for the next week. We keep our fingers crossed, some time we have to have a lucky stroke, and it might be this one, you never know!”

Bienvenue dans un océan d'incertitudes...

- La visioconférence de demain, se déroulera en direct depuis le Global Sports Forum de Barcelone entre 13h30 et 14h30
- Sept équipages progressent en Atlantique Sud
- Groupe Bel attendu à partir de 19h à Ushuaia pour examiner sa quille

We Are Water prior to departure from Wellington. Image copyright Mike Clare/DPPI/Barcelona World Race.

Quel trafic au large du cap Horn depuis hier ! Après le passage en fanfare de la paire germano-américaine de Neutrogena, les complices de Groupe Bel, le double mixte de Mirabaud et le tandem espagnol d’Estrella Damm ont à leur tour salué le célèbre caillou noir. Devant les étraves : l’échiquier de l’océan Atlantique qui promet, au regard de la complexité des conditions météo, de relancer la course jusqu’au bout. Aux avant-postes de la flotte de la Barcelona World Race, les co-skippers de Virbac-Paprec 3 et de MAPFRE, à la lutte dans les petits airs capricieux de l’anticyclone de Sainte-Hélène, en savent quelque chose. Avec un écart de 130 milles entre ces deux équipages engagés dans un bras de fer à haute teneur stratégique, le suspense reste entier. Et tous les coups tactiques sont plus que jamais permis…

La magie du caillou noir a encore fonctionné à plein au 67e jour de la course au passage du nouveau jeune cap-hornier de Groupe Bel, émerveillé aux côtés de Sébastien Audigane, par les paysages, sauvages et somptueux, que dévoilent la Terre de Feu en cette fin d’après-midi (22h20 HF). Les co-skippers du bateau rouge n’ont pas boudé ce précieux moment volé à l’intensité de la course et à l’adversité du Pacifique Sud. Après les conditions musclées de ces derniers jours, c’est au près qu'ils sont passés au pied et au ras de la falaise noire. Désormais, les complices du bord laissent leurs camarades de jeu filer vers le Nord, tandis qu'ils font route vers Ushuaia via le canal de Beagle pour inspecter leur quille. Ils y sont attendus vers 19h ce mercredi soir.

Au bal du Horn

Au Horn, le bal pouvait continuer de plus belle : sur les douze coups de minuit en Terre de Feu, Dominique Wavre et Michèle Paret (4h10 HF) signent de leur côté leur onzième Horn à eux deux. On devine qu’un sentiment de soulagement l’emporte à bord du bateau suisse Mirabaud, à l’heure de rejoindre des espaces océaniques moins hostiles, qui permettront, on l’espère, à la skipper méditerranéenne de reprendre des forces et de se rétablir au plus vite. Le couple dans la vie et au large est suivi 1h40 plus tard par la paire d’Estrella Damm. A son bord, le troisième bizuth de la course, Alex Pella, pare à son tour cette sentinelle aussi prestigieuse que redoutée, perçue par tous comme le « cap de la délivrance » après un Grand Sud diablement tempétueux qui a autant malmené les hommes que les bateaux.

Sainte-Hélène et cie...

Pour autant, l’Atlantique n’a sans nul doute pas fini de les mettre à nouveau à très rude épreuve. Après les coups de poing du Grand Sud, la compétition et l’intensité de la régate reprennent tous leurs droits. Place à la stratégie aux détours des différents systèmes qui ouvrent les portes de ces espaces océaniques propices aux options. Il y a bien sûr ce fameux anticyclone de Sainte-Hélène, que les leaders contournent actuellement par l’Est. Mais c’est sans compter avec deux dépressions qui se forment sur les îles Malouines et sur les côtes du Brésil, et sur les caprices des alizés qui seront autant de nouveaux protagonistes à ne pas perdre de vue sur la route du retour. Seuls 413 milles séparent ce soir Pachi Rivero et Antonio Piris sur Renault ZE de leurs compatriotes d’Estrella Damm, en 6e position. Pas grand chose au regard de l’immensité d’un océan d’incertitudes et du nouveau chapitre qui ouvre devant les étraves...

Classement du 9 mars à 15 heures (TU+1) :

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 à 5145,5 milles de l’arrivée
2 MAPFRE à 134,5 milles du leader
3 RENAULT ZE à 1238,3 milles
4 NEUTROGENA à 1510,7 milles
5 MIRABAUD à 1654,4 milles
6 ESTRELLA DAMM à 1665,2 milles
7 GROUPE BEL à 1700,3 milles
8 HUGO BOSS à 2330,2 milles
9 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS à 2450,3 milles
10 FORUM MARITIM CATALA à 4379,9 milles
12 WE ARE WATER à 6404,8 milles

Groupe Bel. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/Groupe Bel.

Ils ont dit

Kito de Pavant, Groupe Bel : « C'est quand même incroyable, ces côtes sauvages vierges de tout ! C'est grandiose… Le Cap en lui-même c'est un gros caillou mais les îles derrière sont somptueuses, il y a de la neige partout et nous avons du soleil pour admirer cela. On l'a bien mérité ! Je ne cesse de le répéter, mais c'est vrai qu'elle est sacrément longue cette route vers le Horn ! Après tant de chemin, après cette bagarre intense qui nous avait permis de reprendre des milles sur Estrella Damm et Mirabaud et surtout avant cette belle course qui se préparait pour recoller sur Neutrogena et Renault dans l'Atlantique. »

Sébastien Audigane, Groupe Bel : « La première fois, je suis passé très loin et c'est toujours incroyable de voir cela de près. C'est très sauvage, j'ai du mal à trouver les mots. Nous sommes comme deux gamins devant un sapin de Noël, enfin surtout Kito d'ailleurs ! Il y a entre 18 et 25 nœuds de vent et du clapot donc on est vigilant pour le bateau. Nous profitons du paysage pour penser à autre chose ! On fait un super métier, ce parcours est merveilleux et on l'a vu, il y a toujours des aléas. Je retire de chaque navigation une grosse expérience, et de faire la Barcelona World Race en double sur Groupe Bel, cela va m'apporter beaucoup pour le Vendée Globe ! »

Jean-Pierre Dick, Virbac-Paprec 3 : « Nous ne sommes pas très loin de Sainte-Hélène, mais nous ne savons pas exactement où il se trouve, nous n'avons que des estimations avec nos fichiers. Nous espérons être à l'Est et nous en dégager dans la journée. Il faut être un peu patient. Nous savions que le passage serait difficile, pas à très grande vitesse. Tout se passe selon les plans. C'est normal que MAPFRE revienne un peu, car il va buter lui aussi après nous dans cet anticyclone. Nous sommes dans une partie de stratégie. Nous sommes décalés un petit peu plus Est que MAPFRE en termes de positionnement, pour passer dans des zones de vent un peu plus fortes. Nous allons voir si nous y arrivons. Mais il y a un facteur qui joue aussi, le déplacement de l'anticyclone. Nous n'avons aucun contrôle dessus. Les modèles tentent de l'estimer, il faut avoir de la chance au bon moment. Si ça se décale à l'Ouest nous aurons plus de vent, si c’est à l'Est, ça viendra nous perturber. Maintenant les dés sont jetés ! »

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