Photo: Jorge Reichers / Barcelona World Race

Across the Equator

Less than four miles separate Hugo Boss and Neutrogena in the Barcelona World Race

Monday January 12th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The first boats in the Barcelona World Race have passed into the Southern Hemisphere. Race leader Hugo Boss crossed the Equator at 0150 UTC this morning, followed at 0300 UTC by Neutrogena, around 40 miles further west and at 0420 UTC by Cheminées Poujoulat. Hugo Boss is 24 hours 10 minutes ahead of the pace set in the 2010-2011 Barcelona World Race.

At the latest sched the leaders into the southeasterly trades, currently blowing at around 10 knots, with Neutrogena and Cheminees Poujoulat having split to the west. Given the circuitous route the boats look set to have to make around the St Helena high, their route is likely to prove the preferable one and we can expect to see Hugo Boss coming down on to their course once the front runners see the wind build.

Image below (click to enlarge) courtesy of Expedition and Predictwind

While the official numbers are misleading, by our calculation, Hugo Boss holds a lead of just four miles over Neutrogena, with Cheminees Poujoulat a further 28 miles astern, with fourth placed GAES Centros Auditivos a further 73 miles back and set to cross the Equator later this morning.

Fifth placed Renault Captur has taken a route through the Doldrums some 180 miles to the east of Hugo Boss' track and currently making 3.9 knots would appear to be in the thick of the Doldrums at the latest sched.

The next major meteorological hurdle for the competitors is the St Helena high and whether there is the possibility of 'cutting the corner' to get to the Southern Ocean. At present this isn't looking hopeful. At present the high is centred at 25°S in the western half of the South Atlantic. By Wednesday it has dropped slightly south to around 27°S, and, annoyingly, further west. By Friday morning when the leaders will be in the vicinity, a front associated with a Southern Ocean depression is passing through and the main area of high pressure at this point spans pretty much the breadth of the Atlantic ahead of the front, while another bubble of high pressure is forming behind it to the southeast of Uruguary. Over the course of Saturday these two highs merge.

The upshot is the front runners at least are likely to have a torrid time breaking through this area to get on to the 'Southern Ocean express' and this could create a concertinaing of the fleet that enables those behind to play catch up to a degree, particularly they find strong southeast trades in the northern part of the South Atlantic. 

Conrad Colman reports from Spirit of Hungary:

Day 11. Position: approaching Cape Verde. Heading 239°.Speed, 13,9 knots.

Its not just in children's bedrooms that things go bump in the night apparently. I had spent a long afternoon driving the boat like I have the habit from my previous class of boat... A bottle of water close by, a pocket full of peanuts and hours of surfing entertainment with the big gennaker and one reef in the main. Sadly as night fell the wind increadsed out of the safe range for the sail and we sprang to change it for the small reacher. Nandor and I were talking in the cockpit after the change and in a moment when we were both quiet we heard a soft "dunk" noise. I suggested that we had hit something but we checked the rudders and what we could see of the keel and all was clear. We continued on our way with the smaller sails but struggled all night with the instruments not showing the numbers we would expect. At day break we thought the solution lay in the bigger sails so up again with the big gennaker but the speed did not improve as expected.

Then the lightbulb went off in my head and I remembered the strange noise the night before. I put the GoPro camera under the hull and came up with photos of a huge wad of netting or cloth that was balled up on the leading edge of the keel. We furled the gennaker and turned up into the wind to stop and go backwards, allowing the mass to drift free.

Now I know that some people can come to resemble their pets in extreme cases, with bearded bedraggled men taking similarly shaggy dogs for their daily walks but this is just craziness. No need for the boat and boat builder to be sporting scars at the same time!

Further photos showed that the netting had worn away some of the paint on the keel fin but we were otherwise undamaged.
Not completely however, because in the excitement Nandor slipped when returning to the cockpit and banged his head. When we were on our way again he took off his hat and revealed a bloody gash 3 cm long on the back of his head. In full Emergency Room mode I cut his hair, shaved around the cut then he washed his head with betadine soap, I cleaned the wound with betadine and applied steristrips to hold it closed. I was all ready to put my new suturing skills to work after our medical training session before the start but Nandor thought better of it. Perhaps I put him off by reaching instinctively for my splicing kit with 10cm needles and 1mm dyneema thread!

Now I know that some people can come to resemble their pets in extreme cases, with bearded bedraggled men taking similarly shaggy dogs for their daily walks but this is just craziness. No need for the boat and boat builder to be sporting scars at the same time!

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