Saturday, 19 March 2011

BWR: When the computer is no longer your friend?

* Estrella Damm challenging Neutrogena for fourth
* Renault Z.E Sailing Team slow in transition zone
* Virbac-Paprec 3 lead back into the Northern Hemisphere

Virbac-Paprec 3 back in the northern hemisphere, but still in the Doldrums and losing miles to Mapfre. Image copyright Virbac-Paprec 3.

by Barcelona World Race media

The numbers never lie, but it is the on-board computer which delivers the devilish detail. While for Estrella Damm, the rising stars of the Barcelona World Race ‘peloton trio’ the five- hourly rankings report will have been a spur to keep them pressing home their advantage, pulling back miles on their nearest rivals Neutrogena and also on Renault Z.E Sailing Team.

But for other pair of crews, the rankings reports more recently have become more of a source of stress than satisfaction.

“Sometime you are afraid to log on to the internet and see how many miles you are losing, sometimes it’s just a bit like that!” grimaced Renault Z.E’s Toño Piris this morning on the Visio-Conference, confirming that he and Rivero had hit the wall-like transition zone of variable breezes.

And for Boris Herrmann, now only 153 miles behind Renault Z.E Sailing Team, but correspondingly with their lead to Estrella Damm shrunk to just four miles this afternoon, there was the same reticence to log on perhaps this afternoon, fully expecting to have lost their long held fourth place to the Barcelona duo Pepe Ribes and Alex Pella:

“ We obviously lost a bit, this might be the last position report showing us ahead of Estrella Damm. We definitely have been a bit handicapped with the keel we can’t cant fully, also we had lighter breeze I think because their speed since yesterday afternoon has been better so they must have had some better breeze.”

The difficult, widely expected cold front transition zone is still likely to see considerable compression between the trio, but it is Renault Z.E Sailing Team which was first to endure the pain of seeing their speedo plumbing the depths of single digits, making only 3.4 knots, Herrmann describing the area as a ‘mini doldrums’ to be dealt with on the way north to the real thing.

Virbac-Paprec 3 back in the north

Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron lead back into their ‘home’ hemisphere, passing north across the equator at midday today, at the top of the rankings just as they were when they passed north to south back on January 13th when they held a 40 miles lead over Foncia which they were managing to grow.

Today the duo’s lead was still shrinking, down to 167 miles ahead of MAPFRE and the Spanish Olympic medallists’ challenge was still growing even if their waistlines have not been. Iker Martinez admitted today their enforced diet and the heat is starting to take a toll: “At first it's funny, but now that we can not eat much ... it’s not that much fun.” Martinez said.

And for Gerard Marin there is the knowledge that he and Ludovic Aglaor should complete a comparatively quick passage of the Pacific sometime between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning on the vintage Forum Maritim Catala. They had 370 miles to Marin’s first ever passage of the Cape of Storms.

Comic Relief Red Nose Day on GAES (courtesy Baby Bel!). Image copyright Dee Caffari/

Standings at Friday 18th March at 1400hrs

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 3092 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE at 167 miles to leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at 913 miles
4 NEUTROGENA at 1066 miles
5 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 1070 miles
7 HUGO BOSS at 3375miles
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 4176 miles
9 WE ARE WATER at 6134 miles

Dee Caffari (GBR) GAES Centros Auditivos: “It is very bouncy out here. It is pretty miserable, a bit grey, the waves are very messy, the seas short and sharp, so we are slamming quite a lot. We have 25-28 knots of wind, and I think that tonight when it gets dark the front will come through and I should that will be quite squally with a lot of rain. And then quite a big change of wind direction to get to the nice downwind stuff. We have 24 hours of bouncy, horrible stuff to go.

"I am really concentrating on looking ahead, I want to take those miles down. It has been really difficult those last 48 hours, traversing the high pressure and these guys had really good, fast conditions, so we have lost miles to them there. There is still the Doldrums and a fair amount of time to go. So I am still confident and aiming to get those miles back and maybe finishing a little too close for comfort.

"The showers made us feel great and were just at the right time. It depends how desperate you are for a shower. It was 15 degrees and we were quite desperate and it was quite hard work, it was certainly nice to put lots of layers on and have a hot drink after that. Yesterday the sea temperature was 20 degrees and I could happily put the bucket over my head and enjoy it.”

Iker Martinez (ESP) MAPFRE:“On their food ‘shortage’ and the heat which means they have lost some weight’: “At first it's funny, but now that we can not eat much ... it’s not that much fun.

"We have passed the coast of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil quite far from the coast. A high pressure near Buenos Aires has prevented us from making a shorter route and we see now how the race is still getting longer..

"Every day that passes we are closer to get to Barcelona and although on the one hand we believe in hunting the leader, on the other we have that fear behind the ear that we can suffer some serious damage that prevents us from finishing. But hey, it is normal, when there is something you care about you are afraid to lose it, right? "
" If all goes well, we'll be in a week more between Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, almost smelling “papas arrugadas” (canarian crinkled potatoes) and Canarian gofio (Canarian flour made from roasted grain), ¡I can’t wait to be there! We trained hard this winter in those waters and we will feel like home, so ... go, go! "

Forum Maritim Catala. Image copyright Forum Maritim Catala.

Boris Herrmann (GER) Neutrogena:“We obviously lost a bit, this might be the last position report showing us ahead of Estrella Damm and we definitely have been a bit handicapped with the keel we can’t cant fully, also we had lighter breeze I think because their speed since yesterday afternoon has been better so they must have had some better breeze. We do all we can to sail as fast as possible, making lots of sail changes, and we had between the big kite and the gennaker, to play with the wind shifts, now we are down to the gennaker, and VMG running as close as possible to the rhumb line, that is our strategy, we don’t think this area in front of us is anything predictable we just detail it as a mini doldrums to go through as quickly as possible.

"If we do our routage is shows us going west, gybing away from the rhumb line, and we don’t want to do that because we don’t see the weather pattern here very reliably enough to take such an extreme option to gybe off the lay line and go sideways for a day or something like that, That is what the models show, so we prefer to stay on a course as close as possible to where we aim. We see Renault moving at only seven knots but we too are getting slower every hour too, I think we have some compression for a while with Estrella and hopefully get much closer to Renault and it is going to be a very challenging two days for Estrella and us, this light wind sailing is always more of an effort than you might think. The big kite is a heavy sail to get up and down and it is so warm and the sun is burning down on us.”

Toño Piris (ESP) Renault Z.E Sailing Team: “It does not look very healthy for us going through some light stuff, especially last night and we are going through some big squalls, we are feeling like this is a wall we are hitting, and we need that wall to kind of stop so that we get a bit of relativity to it, and we can get through it and us not slow up with it completely. That is what we have been waiting for, for this cold front not to keep going north and then even if we can get out and grab those northerly winds and feel like we can get there, then maybe we can keep moving rather than the other guys just getting closer to us and to the wall.

“ Yes it is not a very relaxing time for us. Sometime you are afraid to log on to the internet and see how many miles you are losing so, sometimes it’s a bit like that!”

In French:

Pas de deux

- Virbac-Paprec 3 cède encore du terrain à MAPFRE
- Estrella Damm et Neutrogena au coude à coude
- Renault ZE surveille ses arrières

Forum Maritim Catala. Image copyright Forum Maritim Catala.

De l’Argentine au Brésil, la flotte de la Barcelona World Race vit à des rythmes bien différents. La situation fait, tout au moins provisoirement, l’affaire d’Iker Martinez et Xabi Fernandez qui pointent maintenant à 170 milles de la tête de course. Dee Caffari et Anna Corbella testent les allers-retours d’une météo influencée par le tango, les tandems d’Estrella Damm et Neutrogena avancent au rythme d’une samba endiablée quand résonnent aux oreilles de Virbac-Paprec 3 et Renault ZE englués dans les calmes, les accents mélancoliques d’une saudade.

Situation figée ou presque sur l’Atlantique Sud. En tête Virbac-Paprec 3 peine toujours à s’extraire des calmes émollients du Pot au Noir. Tout au moins, le monocoque de Jean-Pierre Dick a de nouveau franchi l’équateur à 12h TU et navigue maintenant la tête à l’endroit. La situation fait, tout au moins provisoirement, l’affaire d’Iker Martinez et Xabi Fernandez qui pointent maintenant à 130 milles de la tête de course. Même si il y a fort à parier que l’écart va de nouveau se creuser, dès lors que Jean-Pierre Dick et Loïck Peyron auront touché les alizés de nord-est. Il restera alors 3000 milles jusqu’à l’arrivée, soit entre dix et quinze jours pour rallier Barcelone suivant les conditions rencontrées en Atlantique Nord.

Les derniers seront les premiers ?

La bagarre pour la troisième place devrait encore monter d’un cran compte tenu de la situation sur zone. En tête, Renault ZE est englué dans une zone de calmes générée par un front froid ondulant qui tend à se déplacer vers le nord. Derrière lui, Estrella Damm et Neutrogena cravachent, toujours poussés par un régime de sud-est plutôt soutenu. A ce petit jeu Ryan Breymaier et Boris Herrmann cèdent régulièrement du terrain. Les deux navigateurs ne peuvent pas basculer leur quille au maximum et à ces allures de reaching, proches du vent de travers, le bateau a besoin de disposer de son potentiel de puissance maximum pour avancer. L’écart avec Estrella Damm se réduit donc comme peau de chagrin et il ne serait pas surprenant de retrouver d’ici vingt-quatre heures un classement totalement chamboulé au sein de ce trio. A bord de GAES Centros Auditivos, Dee Caffari et Anna Corbella attendent quant à elles que le vent retourne au sud pour ouvrir à nouveau les écoutes. Un jour au près, un autre au portant, à l’est puis à l’ouest de l’anticyclone, les demoiselles ont entamé un drôle de tango avec les vents.

Renault ZE. Image copyright Renault ZE.

Vivement dimanche

C’est ce que doivent se dire tant l’équipage de Forum Maritim Catala qui a toujours le cap Horn en ligne de mire que celui d’Hugo Boss qui est engagé dans une course contre la montre pour repartir au plus vite. Pour Gerard Marin, c’est une première tant attendue, qu’un petit coup de pouce du Seigneur pour proposer un passage du cap de jour, avec une belle visibilité, serait sûrement bienvenu. L’équipage d’Hugo Boss devra, quant à lui, faire place nette au sein de l’église de Port Stanley transformée en atelier de voilerie, pour laisser les fidèles accomplir leur devoir dominical. Andy Meiklejohn et Wouter Verbraak ont pu récupérer sur place leur équipe technique arrivée par avion à Port Stanley, de même que le voilier du bateau qui devra proposer des solutions efficaces pour réparer les voiles, fortement délaminées. Pendant ce temps, en Atlantique Nord, ce sera le début de l’heure des comptes entre les deux leaders.

Classement du 18 mars à 15 heures (TU+1) :

1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 à 3092,7 milles de l’arrivée
2 MAPFRE à 166,6 milles du leader
3 RENAULT Z.E à 913,8 milles
4 NEUTROGENA à 1066,1 milles
5 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team à 1070,8 milles
6 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS à 2176,3 milles
7 HUGO BOSS à 3374,8 milles
8 FORUM MARITIM CATALA à 4176,7 milles
9 WE ARE WATER à 6134 milles

Ils ont dit :

Antonio Pïris, Renault ZE. Image copyright Renault ZE.

Antonio Pïris, Renault ZE : « Tout va bien même si la météo ne nous aide pas. Nous sommes dans une zone avec pas mal de grains. Cette nuit nous avons rattrapé ce front dans lequel nous nous trouvons actuellement et qui monte vers le nord en même temps que nous, avec ses nuages et ses grains. Nous nous sommes donc arrêtés quelques fois. C’est une situation assez frustrante d’autant que nous pouvons rester beaucoup de temps ici. Ce n’est pas génial pour conserver notre place au classement.

« Ce sont des conditions qui créent une certaine tension à bord. Nous devons le prendre avec philosophie, mais la tension monte vraiment et ce n’est pas agréable. J’espère que la situation va bientôt s’inverser et que nous allons trouver au nord des vents plus favorables pour reconstituer un petit matelas d’avance... »

Boris Herrmann, Neutrogena : « On va bien. On est un peu handicapé par notre problème de quille. On va essayer d’aller le plus vite possible. Notre routage nous indiquait qu’on aurait pu prendre une option radicale en empannant vers l’ouest. On préfère faire une option au plus près de la route directe. La situation devrait changer un peu avec un rapproché des trois bateaux. Je ne me prends pas la tête avec le temps qu’il reste. Je préfère prendre les jours comme ils sont.

« Pour être honnête, j’avais embarqué trois bouquins et je n’en ai lu qu’un seul. En revanche, je me suis tenu informé de l’actualité. En fait, comme on a toujours un œil sur la marche du bateau, c’est plus facile de lire des textes courts, comme sur les sites d’information. »

Dee Caffari, GAES Centros Auditivos : «Les vagues sont très courtes et très hautes. Actuellement, on a entre 25 et 28 nœuds de vent et on marche au près. On devrait retrouver des allures portantes d’ici demain. On a eu un petit souci de ballast qui s’est vidé en partie dans le bateau, mais tout est réparé. Concernant notre position, je reste confiante. On se projette plutôt vers les bateaux de devant et on se dit qu’il reste de la route. On devrait avoir maintenant de bonnes conditions pour remonter et il peut encore se passer beaucoup de choses jusqu’à la sortie du Pot au Noir.»

Barcelona World Race