Thursday, 17 March 2011

BWR: The F Word

- Blissful conditions for the Peloton trio off Brazil
- APFRE start Doldrums experience too
- HUGO BOSS await shore team in the Falklands

Virbac Paprec 3. Image copyright Chris Cameron/DPPI/Barcelona World Race.

by Barcelona World Race media

Seventy five days of hard racing, the living might be relatively easy now but the small miles, and fractions of a miles are hard won for the Barcelona World Race’s ‘peloton’ trio: Renault Z.E Sailing Team, Neutrogena and Estrella Damm.

With good speeds in the brisk SE’ly winds some 700 miles off the coast of Florianapolis, BRA, blessed now with sunshine, ready miles and even the chance to build some serious hours in the bunk, to try to recharge the weary bones and stressed, aching muscles.

But, with the DTF miles counting down nicely and memories of southern storms, soaring albatross, and the south’s endless pallid, grey chill packed away with the extra thermals, balaclavas, gloves and thick socks, so the F Word inevitably bobs into conversations:
“ We also want to finish for our sponsor Estrella Damm, because we know that it is important to them. And I personally, can’t wait to come back to Barcelona, ​​to my city, to our people, to the welcome ... now Pepe and I are very excited to think we will be able to finish the course”. Said Estrella Damm’s Alex Pella today.

One hundred or so miles to the NE, aboard Estrella Damm’s nearest rival, Ryan Breymaier also uses the F Word, the not the expletive that the Annapolis bred co-skipper might just have let slip a few times over the last 11 weeks at sea:
“For sure you are aware the finish gets closer each day, it’s feeling like that more and more, honestly I am pretty ready to be done! I am really, really pleased with the weather systems we have. It is going to enable us to get up this South Atlantic very quickly and that is great for me. We are definitely savouring the moments as they pass, moments of bliss, of the weather we have got right now, it makes the icing on the cake. I just hope the North Atlantic treats us as well as the South Atlantic is treating us right now.”

Reported Breymaier to today’s live Visio-Conference in Barcelona, where the F-Word is very much at the top of agendas from City Hall to the Barceloneta streets and beachside walkways, where everyone it seems wants to know when the boats will be finishing.

But, in fact, Pella answers that question succinctly:
"We have three variable areas ahead: one off Cabo Frio, a quiet transition zone, then the Doldrums and then the Mediterranean, which can be very variable. This makes it very difficult to estimate the date of finishing.”

The two red hulled IMOCA Open 60’s have been enjoying red carpet conditions, but both equally aware that every little mile makes a difference during this stage of their ascent up the Atlantic. But for Pachi Rivero and Toño Piris on Renault Z.E the opportunity to build their cushion during the last 24 hours, to bank an extra 20-25 miles on the pursuing duo. They are expected to hit a transition zone of light airs first, perhaps even by tomorrow morning, and any extra margin is additional insulation as Neutrogena and Estrella Damm are forecast to hold the fast downwind conditions for longer. Indeed this afternoon it is the two red devils both making 17.5 to 17.8 kts which are quickest in the fleet.

For Hugo Boss’ Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak there is the disappointment of knowing that 48 hours of constant hard work since they stopped, trying to make their repairs independently in the Falklands, has not been enough. They will have to wait now for the arrival of their shore team members who were due to fly to the remote South Atlantic Archipelago today (Wednesday) on the one scheduled flight per week from RAF Brize Norton in England. The duo were staying at sea, off the east coast of East Falkland, before an expected rendezvous with their team off Stanley, the Islands’ capital.

At the front of the fleet Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez have just started to feel their first hints of their own Doldrums slowdown, but not before they have clawed back 137 miles on the race leaders Virbac-Paprec 3 who are 323 miles ahead.

Mapfre. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.
Rankings at Wednesday 16th March at 1400hrs UTC

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 3322,7 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE at 323,5 miles to leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at 1300,1 miles
4 NEUTROGENA at 1527,5 miles
5 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 1619,7 miles
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 2237,9 miles
7 MIRABAUD at 2660,9 miles
8 HUGO BOSS at 3131,1 miles
9 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 4557,8 miles
10 WE ARE WATER at 6478,1 miles

Ryan Breymaier (USA) Estrella Damm
: “ It is awesome to see Alex. I have known him since before the European Pro Tour and I know that he has been preparing for a long time to do this race, it is really nice to see him. It is so cool to have five minutes to communicate with a fellow skipper, even if you don’t say much the facial expressions and the thumbs up and the smiles and the hand signals between us is enough, It really shows that we are competitors but in a friendly sense, which I enjoy.

To be honest I have not paid too much attention to Renault I know they are quite a way ahead of us and are going to slow, but I have been busy trying to make sure we stay ahead of this red boat behind us because I am very afraid about them. If their boat is at 100% they should be faster than us. The weather situation is super, super good. It will be good to have a few days of nice reaching conditions then we have our own little nasty transition of our own, as well when this all ends. We have a bit of a hole for a while and then the trades may be established for a while and then straight into the Doldrums.

Hopefully, hopefully the Doldrums calm down, hopefully hopefully this transition goes well for and maybe we will still be ahead, maybe even a bit further ahead. We need every mile we can get to be in front of those guys to be sure.

We are trying to recover from our days of exhaustion, Boris is in the bunk, sleeping and letting the boat do its thing. The boat is perfectly capable of handling itself at the moment.

Right now to be honest I am not sure what is making the difference, the hull form is quite OK when you have this rolling swell, it is just when it gets super flat that we suffer. Other than that we have a very, very low drag nice keel, a huge sail plan which helps right now, we are only sailing with genoa and main we don’t have a gennaker up, and the boat is sailing at a very high percentage of its polars, it is easily driven, under water all the appendages are low drag and we just can take advantage of having a nice sailplan.

For sure it feeling like that more and more, honestly I am pretty ready to be done! I am really, really pleased with the weather systems we have. It is going to enable us to get up this South Atlantic very quickly and that is great for me. We are definitely savouring the moments as they pass, moments of bliss, of the weather we have got right now, it makes the icing on the cake. I just hope the North Atlantic treats us as well as the South Atlantic is treating us right now.

I think this has been a bit of a wake up in the US, for this all to happen, and I think every body is very pleased to see it, and I hope I am opening the door for other people to get involved. I think we had Jonathan McKee before but his project hit technical problems and stuff like that. I really hope we can get Americans over to France to get into this scene and to get moving. If one day we could have one or two or three IMOCA Open 60’s in the USA, that would be incredible for me, especially as I might have had a part in starting it.”

Forum Maritim Catala. Image copyright Chris Cameron/DPPI/Barcelona World Race.

Alex Pella (ESP) Estrella Damm
:"We have a good fight ahead.

"It's a sunny day, great, under spinnaker, staysail and the full main" "We’ve had about 24 hours of downwind conditions now, it was a long time since we had these perfect conditions, after the storm passed the other day. This is the life!”

"We were able to fix the hook yesterday. It was not a complicated repair itself, but to get up the mast we needed to have flatter seas. This was impossible in the midst of the storm and we lost so many miles. But it is solved and we hope it will not happen again.

"Let’s see if we're lucky, because every time we're in the rhythm something happens to us, like the other day with the staysail. We were very close to Neutrogena and even overtook them, and then that happened and it cost us a hundred miles. Renault Z.E. is way ahead, there will be many accordions (closing up and opening again).

We come from a position a long time ago now, a very strange situation since we stopped in New Zealand, with everything that happened, the cyclone and our injuries... But we are very pleased to have two boats around and knowing that there will be many options that are ahead. We have plenty to play for eat some miles and stress them a little”.

"We have three variable areas ahead: one in front of Cabo Frio, a quiet zone, then the Doldrums and the Mediterranean, which can be very variable. This makes it very difficult to estimate the date of arrival

"I have been waiting for this opportunity to go around the world. It has been two years of training exclusively for this project along with Pepe Ribes on this Estrella Damm. There are hard times, but then you just remember all the preparation, the whole team, everyone who has helped you ... and that helps push you forward and through it.

We have suffered many setbacks – bit and little - many difficult times, but we prepared for all these times and here we are.

"Our goal has always been finishing. Especially after the stop in New Zealand. We try to finish this race for many reasons: first because it is the goal we had set, but also for the people who helped us, also to take the experience: we are now racing to day 74, and if you don’t do it, you don’t live it.

“Obviously the intensity, pace, material fatigue... is not the same if you do not finish. To prepare for an upcoming edition it is very important to finish this race. We also want to finish for our sponsor Estrella Damm, because we know that it is important to them. And I personally, to come back to Barcelona, ​​my city, our people, the welcome ... now Pepe and I are very excited to be able to complete the course”.
"The truth is that I was a quite the star of the class. I was never the one sat in the front row. But I have very fond memories of school. We were four brothers and we all went to Lycee Français and really have many friends. I remember many teachers and anecdotes and take this opportunity to say hello to them all.

"I hope you are enjoying the race and let’s see if we on Estrella Damm can catch a few miles to both the front boats and add excitement to the race."

Xabi Fernandez (ESP) MAPFRE:“ Here we are making 11 knots or so. We are at 300 nm of distance from the leaders. . In a way, we expected this accordion effect once again, but we have to sail in the Doldrums also… I guess we will keep gaining miles during the next few hours but then we will stop also, so we will see how we can manage it. The important thing here is seeing where the French pair is and also where we are immediately alter the Doldrums because maybe they are almost leaving the Doldrums now and we have not faced them yet...

We are trying to rest as much as possible since we are very tired, but fine. Being able to sleep for a few hours is a godsend! Besides, we are saving some food… But we are fine, looking forward to leave the Doldrums behind us and see what happens then... Afterwards, we will have to sail upwind like crazies! Being honest, we are very much looking forward to the finish in Barcelona... At least the sun is shining now... We can even take some consolation from that.”

In French:


Virbac Paprec 3. Image copyright Virbac Paprec 3.

- MAPFRE et Virbac Paprec 3 subissent les premiers effets du Pot au Noir
- Hugo Boss retourne sur Port Stanley pour un arrêt technique
- Le reste de la flotte atlantique profite de conditions exceptionnelles

Ce qui est pris n’est plus à prendre. Sur la route du retour, la grande majorité des équipages goûte depuis plus de vingt-quatre heures des conditions idylliques. Navigation au portant, vent modéré, grand soleil, le type même de conditions qui vous lave de toutes les blessures tant morales que physiques, encaissées dans les mers du sud. Seuls Virbac-Paprec 3 et Hugo Boss n’ont pas vraiment de motifs de se réjouir.

A la vacation, ils ont l’air enjoué de gamins en vacances. Les sourires sont de retour et la course, si elle n’a rien perdu de son intensité, a des airs d’aimable régate dominicale au large des côtes brésiliennes. De Renault Z.E. à GAES Centros Auditivos, tous naviguent entre douze et dix-sept nœuds sur une mer assagie et profitent des rayons du soleil retrouvés. On prête aux cures de soleil des vertus essentielles : régénération en vitamines D, diminution du stress, entre autres. S’il n’est pas question de mettre la course entre parenthèses, les belles conditions retrouvées permettent de veiller aux travaux d’entretien du bateau : nettoyage de printemps et bricolage viennent rompre l’éventuelle monotonie du bord. Alex Pella et Pepe Ribes, à bord d’Estrella Damm, ont pu ainsi profiter de ces heures bénies pour monter en tête de mât et remettre en service le hook de trinquette.

Pot d’échappement

Pour Virbac-Paprec 3 et dans une moindre mesure MAPFRE la seule question qui vaille est de trouver la sortie de ce Pot au Noir dans lequel ils viennent d’entrer, avec sous-jacente l’inquiétude que la zone de convergence intertropicale ne se déplace pas vers le nord en même temps que les leaders de la course. Avec le secret espoir pour Iker Martinez et Xabi Fernandez de pouvoir tenter un coup en se démarquant de la route du premier. Duel relancé en tête de course, bagarre au couteau pour la troisième place, la remontée de l’Atlantique offre un menu toujours aussi pimenté.

Seules les filles de GAES Centros Auditivos ont perdu leur partenaire de course en la présence d’Hugo Boss. Dee Caffari commençait à être une habituée de ces compagnonnages puisque c’est le même bateau, mené alors par Brian Thompson, qui lui avait soufflé la cinquième place lors du dernier Vendée Globe.

Hugo Boss au travail à Port Stanley

Les demoiselles auraient bien voulu venger l’affront à l’issue d’un duel à la régulière, mais l’équipage d’Hugo Boss, en proie à l’impossibilité de réparer par eux-mêmes les avaries dont ils sont victimes ont choisi de faire escale à Port Stanley. Après avoir mouillé dans le sound Adventure, Andy Meiklejohn et Wouter Verbraak sont repartis sans avoir pu terminer le travail. Les conditions météorologiques défavorables avec du vent dans le nez et la somme des handicaps dont souffre leur monture les a incité après moult hésitations à revenir sur la capitale des Malouines où leur équipe technique devrait les rejoindre.

Plus à l’arrière, Gerard Marin et Ludovic Aglaor (Forum Maritim Catala) ont pu affiner leurs prévisions de passage du cap Horn. Ce devrait être dans la journée du 20 mars, quand Jaume Mumbru et Cali Sanmarti (We Are Water) pourraient franchir le caillou aux abords du 25 du même mois. Pendant ce temps, Central Lechera Asturiana est toujours bloqué à Wellington. Fran Palacio et Juan Merediz risquent, s’ils décident de continuer la course, de repartir de la capitale néo-zélandaise avec un océan de retard sur leur plus proche prédécesseur. A l’approche de l’automne austral, le sujet mérite d’être étudié avec attention.

Forum Maritim Catala. Image copyright Forum Maritim Catala.

Classement du 16 mars à 15 heures (TU+1) :
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 à 3322,7 milles de l’arrivée
2 MAPFRE à 323,5 milles du leader
3 RENAULT Z.E à 1300,1 milles
4 NEUTROGENA à 1527,5 milles
5 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team à 1619,7 milles
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS à 2237,9 milles
7 MIRABAUD à 2660,9 milles
8 HUGO BOSS à 3131,1 milles
9 FORUM MARITIM CATALA à 4557,8 milles
10 WE ARE WATER à 6478,1 milles

Ils ont dit :

Alex Pella, Estrella Damm
: « On a des conditions fantastiques. On navigue sous spi, grand-voile haute et trinquette. On a réussi à refixer le hook de trinquette hier. Ce n’était pas compliqué, il fallait juste monter dans le mât. On attendait juste d’avoir une mer plus calme pour le faire. Pour nous, c’est très motivant de naviguer bord à bord avec les deux autres bateaux. On attend de voir ce qui va se passer avec Renault ZE, mais on garde espoir.

J’ai beaucoup appris de ce tour du monde : parfois on a fait des erreurs de stratégie ou bien des mauvaises manoeuvres. Il faut faire beaucoup d’efforts pour gagner un dixième de milles mais on peut en perdre cinquante sur une petite faute…
Concernant notre date d’arrivée à Barcelone, il y a encore trop d’incertitudes pour la déterminer avec précision. Il nous reste encore à traverser le Pot au Noir puis à négocier la Méditerranée.»

Forum Maritim Catala. Image copyright Forum Maritim Catala.

Jaume Mumbru, We Are Water
: « On est en train de sortir de l’influence de la dépression qui nous accompagnait. Hier on a eu 35 à 45 nœuds de vent. Depuis qu’on est entré dans l’océan Indien on a essayé de naviguer prudemment. Notre mât et notre quille ont déjà un tour du monde derrière eux. Le bateau est en bon état et mis à part le problème que nous avons rencontré en mer de Tasmanie, tout va bien. On essaye de ne rien casser d’autre et on est souvent partagé entre pousser le bateau et être prudent. On s’attendait à trouver ces conditions dans le Pacifique mais c’est quand même impressionnant. On a perdu le grand gennaker, mais ce n’est pas trop handicapant dans les mers du sud.»

Ryan Breymaier, Neutrogena : « C’est vrai qu’on est très content de la préparation du bateau et que ça contribue à la place que nous avons maintenant. Avec Alex (Pella), nous nous sommes connus pendant le tour de l’Europe et je sais que ça fait longtemps qu’ils se prépare pour ce tour du monde. Entre nous, c’est à la fois une vraie compétition, mais cela reste amical ce dont je me réjouis. Pour pétré franc, je ne me suis pas vraiment préoccupé de la position de Renault Z.E. Je sais qu’ils sont devant nous, qu’ils vont ralentir, mais on est assez occupé à bord à choisir notre propre route et à conserver l’autre bateau rouge derrière nous. Les conditions de navigations sont excellentes. Ça fait du bien d’avoir quelques jours comme ça après ce que l’on a subi. On devrait juste avoir une petite transition à gérer et ensuite on devrait retrouver les alizés jusqu’au Pot au Noir. En espérant qu’il soit clément avec nous...»

Barcelona World Race media