Gibraltar on Sunday

As the Doldrums proves sticky for the mid-fleet in the Barcelona World Race

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

Sunday should see Cheminées Poujoulat back in the Mediterranean. Some time Sunday. It is hard to be precise because the Barcelona World leaders Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam are forecast to have only light winds for their passage through the Strait of Gibraltar and it is quite possible they will slow up. The likelihood is Sunday afternoon, but don't programme lunch around the Swiss-French duo's return.

At present the race leaders have good pace, averaging 15-17 knots, and posting a meaningful 24 hour run of 374 miles. They accelerated yesterday as the breeze backed to offer them some fast reaching conditions. But this evening the wind is forecast to drop and continue to back, all the way round from northwest to southwest. And then all the way to the Straits and beyond it will be just pleasant, modest downwind and reaching.

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

It's a little point along the way, a measure of the mental security for Stamm and Le Cam, which is conversely an almost inevitabley be piquing Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz on second placed Neutrogena: The leaders are closer to the finish now than Neutrogena is to them.

The Mediterranean looks benign from Sunday to Tuesday, downwind until they turn north, then on the nose and light to the finish. But the current outlook offers a sting in the tail, a vicious Tramontana offshore northeastly, with 30 knots for their last night at sea, between Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th.

Even taking into account that the course is some 2000 miles shorter than before, and direct, Cheminées Poujoulat has still made good time compared to previous race. Finishing on the 25th would mean 84 days, nine days quicker than Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron who finished on 4 April 2011 aboard their race winner, Virbac-Paprec 3.

It's also interesting to note that this is the first solo or doublehanded round the world race since 2008 that all the boats will have rounded Cape Horn and been in the Atlantic when the winner crosses the line.

The battle northwards in the trade winds continues for Neutrogena and GAES Centros Auditovos. The second placed crew have had a couple of knots more wind and so been able to make better speed than Anna Corbella and Gérard Marín. There is still 160 miles north-south between the two boats.

The match between We Are Water and One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton is a slow motion affair in the Doldrums right now with We Are Water trying to cross some 130 miles to the west of their rivals. Both have been slow, Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa making just 0.8 knots on the 'instantaneous' 30 mins speed gun this afternoon. Whoever escapes first gains the upper hand for many miles.

Renault Captur is currently 120 miles off Rio, trying to escape the high pressure and find a lane to the trade winds, averaging 9.9 knots for the last 24 hours.

In contrast Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman on Spirit of Hungary would be forgiven for thinking that having struggled down the Atlantic, so often plagued by light winds. Their reward comes now with a favourable climb back up from Cape Horn.

Conrad Colman explained: "We are on a fine reach at the moment. Charging up behind us is another depression and so we actually have some quite interesting choices ahead as to how best to benefit from that, but the depression behind us is one of the reasons we have chosen this westerly course, because we will see a nice slingshot effect in the next 36 hours or so, we should be getting north to the higher latitudes and get into Saint Helena to get a lift northwards. So I think we have a nice road ahead, so we are looking forwards to just keeping on trucking. The boat's good shape, we still can't use the full main but at the moment that does n ot harm us. The boat is in good shape and so are we."

Positions at 1400 UTC
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 988.8 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) + 1128 miles to leader
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin) + 1269 miles to leader
4 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 2201miles to leader
5 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 2248 miles to leader
6 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) + 3594 miles to leader
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) + 4740 miles to leader
ABD : Hugo Boss (A. Thomson - P. Ribes)

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