Wednesday, 20 April 2011

BWR: Braking after the line in Barcelona might be the Boss problem?

HUGO BOSS ETA now 1700-1900UTC Thursday (5-7AM Friday in NZ)

HUGO BOSS charging along. Image copyright Alex Thomson Racing.

by Andi Robertson

Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak were this morning preparing for a fast, active final sprint to Barcelona, ready to be spurred to the line by an active low pressure system which will give them a fast, squally passage through the Balearics. At 0800hrs UTC this morning the Hugo Boss pair were 290 miles from the finish after a relatively tame night averaging just under 7 knots boat speed.

The low pressure which is off the Algerian coast is the weather feature which governs the final 36 hours of racing for Hugo Boss and the final 60-70 hours of the Barcelona World Race for Forum Maritim Catala.

This little active low will build and track NE’ly to become centred over the Balearics and that will produce a strong NE’ly to gale force in the Alboran and up to Cabo Gata which will leave a final sting for FMC but which Hugo Boss will be well ahead of. Indeed for Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak if they stretch east further today then they seem like they will get a straight Northerly course towards Barcelona in fast ENE’ly winds. In contrast FMC are too late to take the same benefit and would just be run over by the low pressure.

And so for Hugo Boss it seems like a fast finish Thursday evening, now predicted to be between 1700hrs and 1900hrs UTC (1900hrs and 2100hrs Barcelona) with a strong NE’ly Gregal wind blowing, parallel to the Catalan coast, around 25kts. Their routing should bring them between Ibiza and Mallorca, possibly closer to Mallorca but certainly with no shortage of breeze, as the report this morning from Wouter Verbraak suggests:

“ Less than 300 miles to the finish, and in stark contrast with the light winds at the start of the race, we are going to have to reef down and hang on. A low pressure system is about to stir things up, and when things get windy in the Med, it gets hectic with violent squalls and very gusty winds.

“ So while we are booting it out in moderate winds to the east, to set up for these strong easterly winds later today and tomorrow, we are taking the opportunity to eat as much as we can – yes, we still have just enough food left – and prepare the boat for tonight. Storm jib up, loose items packed away, new batteries in the head torches, warm clothing ready to go, and power bars and sports drinks ready to go at the top of the food bag.

“ Most of the guys in front of us have had the common light wind struggle in the last miles to the finish. Our challenge will be to stop the boat AFTER the finish and get her safely moored in the harbour. We might just throw the keys to the valet parking guys and go inside for some refreshments while they deal with it? ”Just be gentle with the gas, she has a bit of a bite to it and gets quickly out of control. AND DON'T SCRATCH IT! It’s Alex’s ride, he will be very upset.”

And the consequent slow-down for FMC, forced on to the more upwind course up the west side of the track, means they will now likely be around 24 hours behind Hugo Boss at the finish.

Meantime We Are Water have about 140 miles of their Doldrums left. Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti have just hit their biggest pothole of the Doldrums so far with a slowdown to 1.4 to 2 knots around 0600hrs UTC early this morning but since then the We Are Water Duo have been moving relatively smoothly, making between five and nine knots. So perhaps 24-36 hours more in the Doldrums before they get into the NE’ly trade winds which adhere to the usual format at the moment.

Barcelona World Race