Cheminees Poujoulat on the make again

As Neutrogena passes Cape Leeuwin in the Barcelona World Race

Saturday February 7th 2015, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: none selected

As the Barcelona World Race leaders sail the long dive southeast that will take them down to around 51°S, Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam are putting distance again on second placed Neutrogena. Since 0300 this morning the Swiss-French crew has added a further 30 miles to their lead ahead over Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz, mainly a dividend from being able to makes the slant southeast before their rivals, who are still held north by the Antarctic Exclusion Zone.

Cheminées Poujoulat was in 23-25 knots of westerly wind today, co-skipper Jean Le Cam reaffirming how the combination of big, unruly seas and gusty breezes was making life testing.

Le Cam said today:  "Last night was not easy and now it is not easy either. The seas a big with a lot of waves. If you hear strange noises that is normal. The worst time in the last week was the passage of the depression, the ex cyclone. It was not awful though. The best bit is now, this morning, as we are managing to get down south a bit now that the ice exclusion zone has evolved. The ice exclusion zone is part of the course. It is a little south now and sometimes north. I am not sure it changes much for anyone. We'll see. It is the same for everyone, it depends at time T where you are in relation to your rival. It tends to favour the front or the back. In our case it probably favours the front but as of today i don't know who it is going to benefit.

"Bernard is asleep. It was a bit of a hard night. We gybed very close to the exclusion zone. And the winds are very unstable. As I speak I have the autopilot remote in my hand and watch the screens avidly. It is up and down all the time. It is not easy!"

The delta between the two leading Farr designed, near identical IMOCA 60s has waxed and waned small miles over the past weeks, but as Altadill and Munoz passed their second of the Great Capes together, crossing the longitude of Cape Leeuwin this morning at 0500 UTC there were still only around 13 hours between the top two boats. On 25 Janaury, 4,400 miles ago, when Neutrogena passed Cape of Good Hope there was about 11 hours, or 167 miles, between the Barcelona World Race's same two leaders.

Consider the last Barcelona World Race when at this point 'Under Down Under' the second placed boat was 670 miles behind the leader and eventual winner and went on to compress to being less than 120 miles behind them in the Doldrums. Altadill and Munoz know that patience and consistency, hour by hour, day in day out, will stand them in as good stead as any strategic choice - were one to go their way. Their philosophy is no different to that of most solo and short-handed round the world sailors at this time: Make sure you are in the match, ready to recover distance during the climb back up the Atlantic where anything can happen. From that viewpoint, as the two leaders have the mid-point of the race on next week's horizon, Altadill and Munoz can reflect that they remain on target.

After days of near windless penury, trapped in high pressure, the 'lose on the swings, but win on the roundabouts maxim' is now working out for Anna Corbella and Gerard Marín on GAES Centros Auditivos. The Spanish pair, who stayed patient and objective when they were slowed to pedestrian single digit boat speeds for three days, are now riding the top of a deep, active low pressure system in 35 knots of southwesterly breeze and were convincingly quickest of the fleet this Saturday afternoon. They have a 5-7m swell in their favour too and so regaining miles lost to Renault Captur behind them and to the leaders, looks set to continue for the foreseeable future for Corbella and Marín if they can keep up their high speeds.

But patience is required on a whole different level for Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman who have been dealt a tough hand once again, fighting slowly upwind still into high pressure, at the tail of the race fleet. Both sailors - the oldest and youngest in the race - share the same passion and simple pleasure for being at sea, enjoying all the ch allenges of being in the Southern Ocean together, but in terms of the learning for their own respective future hoped-for Vendée Globes, there is probably not so much to be gained for them right now.

Positions at 1400 UTC
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 13 198,4 miles from the finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) + 207,4 miles
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin) + 1156,5 miles
4 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) + 1419,8 miles
5 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 2054,0 miles
6 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 2869,5 miles
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) + 3420,8 miles

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