Mid-Pacific match race

GAES and Neutrogena just 16 miles apart in the Barcelona World Race

Friday February 20th 2015, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: none selected

Who knows if the second placed crew in the Barcelona World Race, Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz have looked at the recent sched to pinpoint the position of their nearest rivals GAES Centros Auditivos? But with the two IMOCA 60s seeming to be on converging courses in the South Pacific - just 16 miles apart this afternoon - there seems to be a good possibility they might even look out and see each other. At least on their respective AIS identifying and positioning systems.

After 51 days and over 13,000 miles of racing, the two boats are closing in on each other, Neutrogena's course slanting slightly northeast looking likely to cross just ahead of Anna Corbella and Gerard Marín on GAES. The speed differences swing back and forth between the two Farr designed near sisterships, Neutrogena often appearing to sail deeper angles and going slightly slower.

But for sure both will ultimately relish the challenge, not only in having a rival to match race with, but also in the measure of confidence added by having another boat within reach when racing in the middle of one of the loneliest and most inhospitable stretches of the planet's oceans.

Their trans-Pacific match race has nearly 2,600 miles to run yet to Cape Horn. In turn race leader Cheminées Poujoulat now has less than 1600 miles to reach the gateway back to the Atlantic and her crew expects to arrive there around breakfast, local time on Tuesday, according to current forecast and routing. Skippers Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam were getting into a new former sub-tropical depression which was set to blast them towards the most notorious of Capes.

Stamm confirmed today that they expect big winds and seas for their rounding and so are already working hard at routing for the optimum, safe approach. With the chasing head to head duo some 1200 miles behind,

The Swiss skipper commented: "Things have improved a bit. The seas have calmed down. We have been really slow for quite some time, with the wind going from 20-25 knots, meaning it wasn’t very easy. There were cross seas and so we couldn’t get our speed up. It’s looking better now as it is more stable…

"It’s easier when there is a bit less breeze. We aren’t using the spinnaker. We’re in our usual watch system with 4-5 hours each. The watches aren’t fixed. They depend on how we’re feeling, what we’re capable of doing before collapsing (laughs).

"The fact that the rivals are all some way back. That changes a lot of things. We take more time doing manoeuvres, and are more cautious… It gives us the opportunity not to take so many risks. But there is one rival we must not forget and that is the Pacific. That’s what sets our pace. If we don’t make good headway, we suffer more from the sea state. It doesn’t change much as far as our speed is concerned, as we try to sail as fast as we can. But it does change the pressure we feel. We don’t have any real pressure on us."

As they head for this pinnacle landmark of round the world sailing, Cheminées Poujoulat has entered the maritime area which is the under the responsibility of the Chilean MRCC. The local rescue authorities have been in contact with the boat to remind that it is entering one of the most dangerous shipping lanes in the world. The Chilean Navy holds the responsibility for one of the largest maritime areas in the world and will watch over the Barcelona World Race boats as they round Cape Horn.

Cheminées Poujoulat may have set the 24 hour speed record for this edition of the race, so far, with 480 miles, but One Planet One Ocean has been knocking out some remarkable 24 hour runs in the 16 year old Kingfisher - nearly 440 miles until early this morning. In sixth place Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa are just 360 miles behind the Garcia brothers on We Are Water.

Bruno Garcia said he looked forwards to racing across the Pacific with their friends and rivals in closer proximity: "Of course everybody is worried when your boat is not making the most miles. But, you know, objectively having OpOo quite near when we are crossing the Pacific together, they are good sailors and good friends, so it is good for us, a better option."

Renault Captur has been slowed by light winds as its progress towards Wellington where her crew will attempt to repair her damaged rudders. They are expected tomorrow and had 190 miles to go this afternoon, averaging 10-11 knots.

Making good, solid speeds on board Spirit of Hungary, Conrad Colman took the opportunity presented by his third trip to the top of the mast to take one of the most exciting images of the race so far!

Positions at 1400
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 8463.1 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) + 1205 miles to leader
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin) + 1219 miles to leader
4 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) +2861 miles to leader
5 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 2860 miles to leader
6 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 3220 miles to leader
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) + 4136 miles to leader
ABD : Hugo Boss (A. Thomson - P. Ribes)

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