Photo: Guillermo Altadill / Neutrogena

Doldrums ahead

Cheminees Poujoulat closing on Hugo Boss in the Barcelona World Race

Saturday January 10th 2015, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: none selected

With Cheminées Poujoulat now closing ever closer to their wake, Hugo Boss has regained the lead of the Barcelona World Race as the front runners head for the Doldrums and the Equator tomorrow and consider their options in the south Atlantic.

Although the Trade Winds were due to ease this Saturday afternoon, as yet there has only been a small reduction in boat speeds. But the pace should reduce slightly over the course of Saturday night as the northeasterly breeze drops back to 15 knots from this evening.

Aboard the top four boats are some of the hardest, most experienced solo and short-handed and fully crewed round the world sailors, the best of them with decades of experience. But the combination of strong trade winds and the intensity and closeness of the competition has drained the leaders and so when the pace does relent, and the correspondingly the temperatures rise as the wind chill drops as well, so a period of respite will almost certainly be welcomed.

Sunday may not be billed as a day of rest, but the chance for each skipper to give their opposite number an extra hour of sleep will be possible, contrasting with the hard, intense routine since the Canary Islands.

All of the leaders look to be setting up for more or less the same Doldrums crossing point. The ITCZ is widening slightly and moving north, but the narrowest transition is quite well defined, around 100 miles wide.

In ‘real money’ Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes are 35 miles directly ahead of Neutrogena, Guillermo Altadill and Jose Muñoz, while Cheminées Poujoulat is racing at the same latitude as Neutrogena.

Cheminées Pouloulat’s Bernard Stamm was looking tired today: “We have not had time for much sleep. Since the start we have had to stay at the helm. We take in turns, but that doesn’t leave us much time to rest. It’s nice for all the boats to be close together. We did well getting out of the Mediterranean. We underestimated the speed with which the high was coming down after that and fell into a trap there, but we’ve made our way back. We’re not in the best position, but it’s going well and we’re battling it out with our friends, which is great. The other three boats are fast, so we can’t ease off and let them get ahead.”

The Cape Verdes was a double milestone for Le Cam, not only did he have to retire there in 2011 during this race when the mast of President broke, but during the 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre two handed race from Le Havre to Brazil, he and Vincent Riou had to pitstop into Mindelo to effect a fast rudder repair. The duo went on to win the IMOCA 60 Class into Itajai.

Some compression is still inevitable at the Doldrums which should help GAES Centros Auditivos creep back towards the lead trio to their south. Anna Corbella and Gérard Marin are actually more like 75 miles behind Thomson and Ribes.

On We Are Water Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa reported: "We know sooner or later We Are Water will catch us but maybe we will get to the Doldrums before Bruno and Willy but then a lot of thing will change. What we are sure about is they will be faster than us and we’ll not be able to push too hard, we don’t want to obsess about them. It will be bad to go as fast as they are because we could break something.”

Positions at 14:00 UTC
1 Hugo Boss (A Thomson – P Ribes) 21413.2 miles to finish
2 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm - J Le Cam) +2.5 miles to finish
3 Renault Captur (J Riechers - S Audigane) +2.7 miles to leader
4 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) +27.2 miles to leader
5 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella - G Marin) + 45.8 miles to leader
6 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 355.2 miles to leader
7 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 410.6 miles to leader
8 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa - C Colman) + 578 miles to leader

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