Unpredictable weather pattern forecast for last stretch 1/2/08

While Hugo Boss duo Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape psychologically prepare to struggle against light conditions until Gibraltar, things started to move a bit more swiftly this afternoon for race leader Paprec-Virbac 2. This certainly doesn’t mean the situation is clear for Dick and Foxall, who will have to play hide and seek with a high-pressure system whose movements are less than predictable – “a tricky beast”, said Jean-Pierre today during the videoconference.

Making their way towards the North as fast as they can in order to catch the strong (25 knots) easterlies blowing west of the Canary Islands, the Franco-Irish team have been keeping busy at the chart table for the past four days, trying to figure out how to avoid their “invisible” enemy. “We’ll have a hard time determining how the high pressure system might move, and things will be difficult all the way to Gibraltar, basically”, said Jean-Pierre. Weather models seem to contradict each other and tactical decisions will have to be made very cautiously – “It’s not the right time to make a big mistake, so we’re assessing various scenarios, examining all the options we have”, added Paprec-Virbac 2’s skipper, before concluding, “For the moment, it’s a matter of catching those easterlies before they drop. that would certainly give us an edge.”

Further back it’s still painfully slow for Hugo Boss, but “we’re getting there” Capey explained today. Grey weather, 15 knots of wind from the North East, and Gibraltar lies some 12 days ahead for Thomson and Cape.

Temenos 2 and Mutua Madrilena are both up to speed, with a similar average of 12 knots – their passage towards Gate 7 facilitated by steadier east northeasterly trade winds. Dominique and Michele (Temenos 2) are now just over 400 miles from Fernando de Noronha. With the Spanish boat just 91 miles behind in forth, both should cross the gate in the next 48 hours.

Currently benefiting from steady south-easterlies off the Brazilian coast, Educacion Sin Fronteras is this afternoon the fastest boat in the fleet, and should continue to gain miles on the leaders, helped by a low-pressure system located off Rio de Janeiro.

Leaderboard 01/02/08:

1. Paprec-Virbac 2 – Jean Pierre Dick / Damian Foxall – 2164 To Finish
2. Hugo Boss – Alex Thomson / Andrew Cape – 459
3. Temenos 2 – Dominique Wavre / Michele Paret- 1454
4. Mutua Madrilena – Javier Sanso / Pachi Rivero – 1544
5. Educacion Sin Fronteras – Servane Escoffier / Albert Bargues – 2788

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