Indian Ocean extremes

Barcelona World Race leaders braced themselves for cyclones Diamondra and Eunice

Sunday February 1st 2015, Author: Helen Fretter, Location: none selected

The Barcelona World Race fleet is today feeling the effects of both extremes of the Indian Ocean.

Crew on the leaders Cheminées Poujoulat and Neutrogena are bracing themselves for the possible impact of two cyclonic low pressure systems which could bring 38-40 knots on Monday, with potential for prolonged 50+ knots through Tuesday into Wednesday. The two frontrunners are currently separated by around 220 miles with Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam the further east, and Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz to the northwest of the pace-setters.

Today both teams have diverged from their previous path of skirting the very southern limits of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, instead taking a more northerly route, which may offer them more tactical options to avoid the strongest centre of the low as the remnants of Cyclone Diamondra (988mb) tracks southeast across their course. In its wake follows Eunice (985mb), moving in an ESE direction. Both systems should weaken as they meet the colder waters of the south, reducing their severity.

By contrast, GAES Centros Auditivos continues to be slowed by the ongoing effects of a high pressure system which has reduced her average pace to just 8.7 knots for the past 24 hours. Fourth-placed Renault Captur has reduced the deficit between her to just over 200 miles this afternoon, but crew Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane are likely to see Sunday morning’s 18 knot northerlies decreasing to around 10 knots by the evening.

New experiences

We Are Water, in fifth place, also continues on its northeasterly course. Willy Garcia this morning reporting that he and brother Bruno were experiencing very confused sea states with wind against wave direction.

“The conditions now are we have rough seas, cross-seas, because we have to cross a ridge now into a different wind. The sea is cross to the wind so it’s very choppy and very uncomfortable on board.

“The boat is 100%. So we have all the sails are okay, all the little things that we have broken are fixed. And we are okay, maybe a little bit thinner, but everything is ok on board.

“The South sailing that we have tried is rough, very cross seas, and with big gusts of wind in the fronts, and also cold temperatures, so it’s really what we expected.”

One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton is the latest to pass the Cape of Good Hope, crossing 20°E to enter the Indian Ocean at 10.20 UTC. Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa are also within 40 miles of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, in what is for both sailors a first venture into the ‘Deep South’.

Aleix reported today that both crew and boat felt strong one month into the Barcelona World Race: “For the first time we are sailing in the Indian Ocean. There is a mix of feelings now. The first feeling is one of respect because we always hear about the history of the Indian Ocean and you always have to have a respect for these powerful oceans.&n bsp;And also we are very proud and we are very happy to be here, and to continue racing.

“After one month’s sailing the boat is really good. We had a little thing to repair but nothing major. The boat is in really good condition. And we are also in really good condition, physically and mentally, we feel strong. We can relax and we feel that we can sail in the Indian Ocean in 100% top condition, the boat and ourselves. So we feel really confident and really good about this.

“Now we are sailing further south, but this is something that we didn’t really want – well, we decided to go south but it was a decision made for the meteorlogical conditions that we had. But for the moment this is not a big issue, it’s not a problem. We are sailing south so we are doing less miles, the route is shorter further south, which is good.

“The only thing is we need to be careful that we don’t get caught between the very strong winds and the exclusion zone. We cou ld have a problem for us with strong winds and the exclusion zone to be too close to us, but apart from this for the moment we don’t expect very strong winds and we are happy to be here, and we are doing good miles.

“Life on the boat is very easy. Didac is a really good person, and we are very happy together here sailing. I think we match very well sailing, and it’s easy to sail with him. We are very happy to be together here.”

Starlight sailing

There was optimism too onboard Spirit of Hungary, with Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman comfortably the fastest boat in the fleet over the last 24 hours, covering 368 miles.

Colman blogged from the boat about the spectacular sailing conditions they had enjoyed: ““We are flying eastwards now, tied with Neutrogena for the fastest boat in the fleet at one point today! It’s fantastic to have some strong reaching conditions where Spirit of Hungary can pick up her skirts and really run.

“We went through a small transition zone last night with lighter winds and a gybe when the wind changed from the south to the north east. As we are being chased by a big Southern Ocean depression with a serious packet of wi nd we carefully timed the sail changes during the night as the wind built so we wouldn’t be caught out with too much sail up. As such we have shifted through the gears from our biggest reaching gennaker to the fractional reacher to the solent jib and now to the small staysail. The staysail is the last stop before the storm jib but its only gusting 36 knots at the moment so we should be safe for now.

“The night was a beautiful calm before the storm with a strong moon and clear skies marked only by light pre-frontal cirrus clouds. These are high altitude clouds made of ice crystals, instead of water droplets like all other clouds, and are beautiful and delicate but herald stronger conditions in the future. Now we have been thumping our way eastwards with a bright blue sky and a steady 30+ knots of wind, the severe blue seas highlighted in silver by the shining sun and torn into white spray by the gusty wind. All in all a great day on the water and a refreshing change from th e palettes of grey that dominate these parts.”

Positiond at 1400 UTC

1. Cheminées Poujoulat (B. Stamm - J. Le Cam) at 15,191.1 miles to the finish
2. Neutrogena (G. Altadill - J. Muñoz) + 224.4 miles to the leader
3. GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella - G. Marín) + 1,030.7 miles to the leader
4. Renault Captur (J. Riechers - S. Audigane) + 1,245.7 miles to the leader
5. We Are Water (B. Garcia - W. Garcia) + 1,881.1 miles to the leader
6. One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert - D. Costa) + 2,388.6 miles to the leader
7. Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa - C. Colman) + 2,810.7 miles to the leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson - P. Ribes)

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