Momentary reprieve

Cheminees Poujoulat passing Rio in the Barcelona World Race

Thursday March 5th 2015, Author: Helen Fretter, Location: none selected

After a period last night and today when almost all of the Barcelona World Race fleet were struggling in light to moderate winds, both in the Atlantic and the Pacific, it looks more like Transition Time is ringing for many. The exception was Jorg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane on Renault Captur who were speeding across the Pacific at their statutory, speed limited 15-16 knots, riding ahead of a fairly typical depression.

The regime of reaching and downwind sailing was rudely interrupted for a few hours for Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat. The race leaders, just north of the latitude of Rio, will transition tonight into the more regular southeasterly tradewinds. They are now sailing the reciprocal course of some of the Transatlantic races that they have done many times in their career and that will enhance their feeling of returning home. Indeed Le Cam won the Transat Jacques Vabre into Brazil's Itajai 16 months ago, and both have been several times to Salvador de Bahia which they will pass on Saturday. And from now until the Doldrums, the leaders will enjoy a regular, if bouncy, ride north.

Also in transiton are Neutrogena and GAES Centros Auditivos. Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz are on the cusp of breaking into northwesterlies which will back into the southwest to give Neutrogena a welcome fast ride north in reaching and downwind conditions. Having served 48 hours penance in light, fickle and frustrating winds generated by the high pressure, a new depression is building from Uruguay, which the second and third placed boats will be able to take full advantage.

Munoz is enjoying his race with the vastly experienced Altadill, often mentioning the lessons and learning he has derived from his Spanish co-skipper. Asked today if he was enjoying sailing away from the south, he said: "Not so much, because that’s my home, even when it was quite cold it felt like home. Now the weather starts to get warmer (laughs). It is another type of sailing; something completely different. In the South there are always many different things, high pressure, low pressure, anticyclone … and how they form themselves on the sea. It is a little extreme, but you can also choose how to deal with it. We have a good boat and I have a very good skipper so we are looking for the best route to move fast and make the best of our position that we can all the way to Barcelona."

In the Pacific, We Are Water and One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton are approaching Cape Horn and both have taken a little northing now. Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa continue to drive the ex-Kingfisher hard and effectively and are now just 107 miles direct line distance behind Bruno and Willy Garcia on We Are Water in just now 750 miles from Cape Horn.

Renault Captur has the strongest breeze of the fleet right now. But her crew has mixed feelings. On the one hand they are gybing every 50 or 60 miles because they are dead downwind and so at least half the time their damaged rudder is not so stressed, but all the gybing doubelhanded is especially labour intensive. The strong breeze is allowing them to make up miles on the two boats ahead but at 550 miles they are still out of touch at present.

Seb Audigane reported from Renault Captur: "We are doing it on Renault Captur. We are under reefed mainsail and J3 and the seas are very very big There are 25 and 35 knots wind which is not that much, but in these seas it is hard going. Besides, this morning we had a small problem, but it's there all the time really. But then it will go a bit because we jibe soon at the exclusion zone. But then it's not great as the wind has turned to the west, so now we will be forced to make small legs of 50 miles each, downwind from here, heading to ... Cape Horn."

A change is due too for Spirit of Hungary where the Pacific has been more like summer on Nandor Fa's native Lake Balaton - clear blue skies, 10-12 knots of breeze and an easy routine means he and Conrad Colman are getting maximum sleep, ready for the resumption of strong winds at the weekend.

Colman reported: "The race sailed away for us a long time ago so there is no point in getting upset about the situation. So we are sailing as best we can with what we have. That is pretty much all we can do a the moment. We are enjoying being at sea at the moment. We have incredibly clear skies thanks to high pressure. We have beautiful moon which is like a super strong spotlight on us and so we can wander around, we can almost read books it is so strong with the full moon. We are not going very fast but it is certainly a great place to be at sea now."

Positions at 1400 UTC

1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 4325 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) + 1270 miles to leader
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin) + 1397 miles to leader
4 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 3338 miles to leader
5 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 3547 miles to leader
6 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) + 4073 miles to leader
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) + 5657 miles to leader
ABD : Hugo Boss (A. Thomson - P. Ribes)

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