Thursday, 17 March 2011

BWR: Iker and Xabi Move In on the Leader Before Negotiating the Doldrums

Facing a new opportunity to attack?

Mapfre. Image copyright Maria Muina/Barcelona World Race.

by Helena Paz

“MAPFRE” has managed to reap some benefits from the leader's position, right in the middle of the equatorial lulls, whilst sailing themselves in an area with superior levels of breeze than found in the Doldrums.

During the past 14 hours of racing, “Virbac Paprec 3” has slowed down considerably, a situation that the Olympic champions have been able to make the most of, cutting down the gap by another 92 miles.

Since 19:00 GMT yesterday and until 09:00 GMT today (Wednesday), “MAPFRE”'s average speed has been 12 knots, compared with Jean Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron's 2.8 knot average, now some 343.5 miles ahead of Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández.

This new phase of the 'accordion effect' hasn't caught the Basque sailors by surprise, as this is the type of situation that tends to arise when a boat heads into an area of less wind. However, the Spaniards never forget that the first to get out of the zone will also be the first to get their foot back on the gas, while those left behind can become trapped in conditions with little breeze.

As such, Xabi Fernández said that it'll be worth looking even more closely at the situation when the first and second placed entries have emerged from the equatorial lulls: “I imagine we'll continue to move in closer over the coming hours and then we'll be slowed down, so we'll have to see how we get out of that one”, emphasising that; “the important thing is to look at how far the French are from getting out of the Doldrums, because they might already be emerging and we still haven't entered...well, in the mean time we'll keep on moving in, right?,” grinned the skipper from Ibarra, Spain.

There is no doubt that the French will continue to try to reach the trades as quickly as possible, whilst “MAPFRE” will fight to go as fast as possible and to chase as many miles as possible before reaching the lulls.

Doses of effort

All of this is evolving with doses of much-needed rest in between, following 75 days of racing, as Xabi confessed: “We are trying to rest, as we really are very tired. You can't imagine how good a few hours of sleep feel... We are also being careful with food and storing some...Anyway...Well, we are good, and we are looking forward to getting through the lulls to see what's what...and to then get close hauling as if our lives depend on it.”

3,600 miles more and Iker and Xabi will be able to step back onto dry land; the same they waved goodbye to on the 31st of December. They are certainly looking forward to it: “We are really looking forward to getting back to Barcelona, but we are doing well. At least the weather is good now... there's always a bright side to everything!haha!” concluded Xabi.

Another “birthday”: Happy Birthday Joan!”

Just two days ago Xabi celebrated the first birthday of his daughter Noa from a distance, and just two days later, Iker will celebrate the birthday of his son Joan, who is also one year old.

Iker reflected on this yesterday: “They were almost born on the same day… it really is worthy of a plot-line for a book!,” he joked. “We are really happy and we try to keep in contact with them and to see them on screen. Children are so special, and it's Xabi's second and my first child, and it really is harder to set off and to leave them behind when you have to go”.

Day 75 - 09:00 GMT

1. VIRBAC PAPREC 3 (Jean Pierre Dick - Loïck Peyron) FRA, 3,332 miles from
2. MAPFRE (Iker Martínez - Xabi Fernández) ESP, +343.5 miles
3. RENAULT Z. E. (Pachi Rivero - Antonio Piris) ESP, + 1,371.9 miles
4. NEUTROGENA FÓRMULA NORUEGA (Boris Herrmann - Ryan Breymaier) NOR, +1,594.8 miles
5. ESTRELLA DAMM SAILING TEAM (Alex Pella - Pepe Ribes) ESP, + 1,693.1 miles
6. GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS (Dee Caffari - Anna Corbella) GBR/ESP, + 2,275.6 miles
7. MIRABAUD (Dominique Wavre - Michéle Paret) SUI, + 2,645.8 miles
8. HUGO BOSS (Wouter Verbraak - Andy Meiklejohn) GBR, +3,120.2 miles
9. FÒRUM MARÍTIM CATALÀ (Gerard Marín - Ludovic Aglaor) ESP, +4,603.2 miles
10. WE ARE WATER (Jaume Mumbrú - Cali Sanmartí) ESP, +6,529.3 miles
11. CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA (Juan Merediz - Fran Palacio) ESP, +8,218.3 miles ** TECHNICAL STOPOVER IN WELLINGTON **
* GROUPE BEL (Kito de Pavant - Sebastien Audigane) FRA, RACE ABANDONED 11th March.
* 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