Saturday, 26 March 2011

BWR: Poker Faced

Was Virbac-Paprec 3’s decision to opt for ‘stealth’ mode something of a double bluff?

Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak on board HUGO BOSS. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.

by Barcelona World Race media

As Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron re-emerge in this evening’s position report, the French leaders appear to have essentially just carried on. No sudden departure to the North African shore, no determined dive north, certainly no radical westerly course – Virbac-Paprec 3 are still making 10 knots on a north-easterly track.

In a conversation to his team Loick Peyron today reported that they were sailing in uncomfortable conditions of 20-25 knots on the nose, with a heavy sea on their way towards Canary Islands. “"We sailed to the east of the anticyclone. There were no opportunities to pass it to the west; it is far too spread out, you would have to go back to the Azores,” he explained. Peyron added that they had not made huge progress as they have been sailing around the edge of the high pressure system, but “the positive thing is that we have always had wind.”

Still under their invisibility cloak, MAPFRE’s position remains unknown, with the Spanish duo having apparently tacked sharply east before they concealed their course from this morning’s early rankings. They will reappear tomorrow at 1500hrs (UTC).

Dee Caffari (GBR) on GAES Centros Auditivos has also been hidden away, but in a rather less comfortable scenario, as she explained by email today: “I have spent the last two days sanding carbon either in the sail locker or with my head actually inside the ballast tank. The high temperatures and carbon dust flying everywhere do not make for pleasant working conditions and my skin is massively itchy and painful as a result. It is a job that has to be done and thankfully the sea temperatures are warm enough now that bucket showers are easy to come by.”

GAES Centros Auditivos are currently making around 9 knots, having – rather ironically – so far avoided the slow down that befell Renault Z.E., Estrella Damm and Neutrogena. This trio, now all in the northern hemisphere, are currently sailing at 8-10 knots although average pace remains much lower as they exit the Doldrum conditions.

Meanwhile Hugo Boss have had their own run-in with an unseen adversary, as Wouter Verbraak (NED) reported this morning: “’There is something on the rudder!’ It is the middle of the night, and lots of turbulence with white foam coming from the leeward rudder. The boatspeed has dropped from 18 to 9 knots. This is more than a little piece of seaweed, that’s for sure.

“‘I can’t get it off with the boathook, we will have to stop the boat,’ replies Andy after a few minutes struggling to leeward. We furl the spinnaker and back the boat down. Now with the boat hook we can remove the rather large piece off the rudder. As it floats away we can see fins and a meter long fish…on closer inspection with a torch it turns out to be a shark! Poor fellow, not sure how well he will have survived our nightly encounter...hope it is fine. It reminds us we are not alone out here!”

Note from SailRaceWin: The shark was maybe after one of the tuna wraps that the guys took on board in the Falklands for lunch... :-))

Barcelona World Race