Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race

New record to Gibraltar

Hugo Boss leads the Barcelona World Race fleet out into the Atlantic

Saturday January 3rd 2015, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Spain

Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes on Hugo Boss have set a new record time for the 538 mile Barcelona to Gibraltar course of of 2 days, 5 hours, 50 minutes.

Hugo Boss is the former Virbac-Paprec 3, a VPLP-Verdier design launched in 2010, and set the previous Barcelona-Gibraltar record time of 3 days, 7 hours, 55 minutes, when the boat was skippered by Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) and Loick Peyron (FRA) in the 2010-2011 Barcelona World Race .

Having regained the lead yesterday morning, Hugo Boss has extended her advantage slightly. Thomson and Ribes profited from the most northerly route of the lead boats before settling into the intense routine of trying to cover their rivals. But when they break into the Atlantic and pick up the trade winds, their superior speed potential should give them more confidence to sail for speed rather than concerning themselves with their rivals.

Alex Thomson said this morning that their second night at sea allowed them only snatched, brief catnaps broken by the need to gybe to stay in the best corridor of wind as they transitioned out of the fickle breezes of the Alboran Sea.

“We’re very good, it’s a beautiful sunny day. The wind’s increased a little bit having been very light and shifty overnight and it’s been very difficult to know which way to go. But we seem to be doing a good job so far, and we’re hoping that we’re first to Gibraltar and we’ll manage to make some more gains. [Last night] wasn’t too bad, we haven’t been able to sleep for very long, but we’ve had quite a few little naps. But the focus more than anything is just to be working as hard as we can to and making as many miles as we can. We both feel pretty good to be honest, and obviously being at the front helps.

“Once we get to the Straits, I’m sure there will be wind and there will probably be a fair amount of wind after we’re through the Straits. It would be nice to see the wind increasing like the GRIB files say it should do sooner than then. I think both Pepe and I were both worried that we might be wallowing out here for three or four days, like it has been before, but it seems to be fairly quick so far and we’ll be delighted if we can get there and get a record. At the moment it’s looking round about just over two days – two days three hours or something like that. Pepe and I have spent a lot of time on deck together in the manoeuvres and trying to work out what we’re going to do, and so far it seems to be going really well.”

Just over 13 miles behind them, Neutrogena – Guillermo Altadill and Chilean Jose Muñoz, team-mates from Thomson’s 5 Degrees West racing stable – this morning moved up into second place, also opting for a track closer to the Spanish coastline. Cheminées Poujoulat is now lying in third, around 12 miles south of Neutrogena, with GAES Centros Auditivos a further 11 miles to the southeast. Both the third and fourth placed boats were making a more southwesterly course, towards the Algerian and Morroccan coast where they believed there will be more wind pressure.

From Cheminées Poujoulat Bernard Stamm reported: “It’s not going too badly. We have been lucky with the weather, it could have been very different. The wind is a little unstable right now anyway. We make some good gains, some less good, and we’re try to approach Gibraltar as best we can. Normally the wind should stabilise. This is unexpected from the forecast that we had at the start. But it’s fine, the sea is flat, we have 8 to 9 knots. We are on a port tack towards Morocco and we hope that the wind will shift in the expected direction. We have shifted south compared to Neutrogena and Hugo Boss. We want to get a little more pressure. We'll see what happens.

“We’re not yet into the routine of a round the world race. We did not sleep much, you start to nap, but we’ll really get into our routine when we get out of the Mediterranean.

“It looks like we should get to Gibraltar before we’re becalmed, but you still have to cross your fingers. We’re on the look-out for light winds.
“We’ve seen a few freighters. We spoke with a boat while ago who kindly diverted his course. Moroccan customs have warned us about them!” [referring to the Dominique Wavre incident in the 2010 race when he was stopped and boarded by customs]

Renault Captur is fifth, around 80 miles to the east of the leaders. Her crew reported this morning: “We have very light winds in the Alboran Sea which have taken us hostage, whi le the boat in front has escaped – such is life in the Mediterranean.”

One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton in sixth is currently taking a central route across the Alboran Sea, with We Are Water opting to follow the leaders to the north. Nandor Fa (HUN) and Conrad Colman (NZL) in eighth place are also experiencing frustrating conditions. Colman confirmed this afternoon that their first 48 hours racing for the very first time on Spirit of Hungary have been extremely tough. After setting out necessarily conservative in their sail choices – they had never even set a spinnaker together before the start gun sounded, they have been left behind a little bit as light, contrary winds conspire against them, in what the youngest skipper in the race, the 31 years old Kiwi-American described as a ‘house of horrors’.

“We were a little conservative in our sail choice the first night and as a result struggled to keep the same course and speed as the others. This lead us to be caught in the light winds behind Ibiza with We are Water, but were again slow adding bigger sails and have been caught by a ridge of high pressure.

“We are now in the axis of the ridge and it’s a house of horrors with the wind turning from north to east to south and back again. Every sail change or tack gives renewed hope that a change will stick but it’s not long before the inevitable shift comes again and we need to start all over again.

“It’s a long race and I hope we'll have opportunities to catch up later. That’s the only thought I can hang onto now! Fingers crossed for the next few hours.”

The eight teams are still largely in high tempo ‘inshore’ race mode, after a busy night for the leaders with frequent gybing, and only occasional minutes of sleep to recover. For the leaders the question is whether to focus on covering those boats which have split to the south, or extending away into the open ocean section of the Atlantic. The ‘rich get richer’ scenario is one which will satisfy Thomson and his Barcelona based co-skipper Ribes. Pre-start Thomson affirmed several times that one of his concerns was not performing on the first stage and being forced to play catch up because of a tactical error.

Positions at 14:00 UTC

1. Hugo Boss (A Thomson - Ribes P) 22,973.6 miles from the finish
2. Neutrogena (G Altadill - Muñoz J) 13.4 miles to leader
3. Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm - J Le Cam) 17.3 miles to leader
4. GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella - G Marino) 26.9 miles to leader
5. Renault Captur (J Riechers - S Audigane) 89 miles to leader
6. One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert - Costa D) 118.3 miles to leader
7. We Are Water (B Garcia - Garcia W) 136.4 miles to leader
8. Spirit of Hungary (N F - C Colman) 174.7 miles to leader


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