Leaders Virbac-Paprec 3 are making good speed towards the Cook Straits

After a tough weekend Barcelona World Race leaders Virbac-Paprec 3 are now making good speed north east toward the Cook Straits. Yesterday afternoon they passed the latitude of the tip of the South Island, 280 miles off Cape Providence, and for the leaders this ascent of the Tasman and through the straits will not be without its challenges, but it promises to be one of the most memorable stages for Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron.

The duo have their lead at 504 miles over MAPFRE who crossed into the Pacific Sunday morning, and Estrella Damm who passed from the Indian at 14:20hrs UTC yesterday afternoon. There have been glimpses of sunshine and often benign conditions in the south, but after three weeks in the high latitudes – spirits and moods will climb as the typically grey southern oceans vista, chill temperatures and drizzle gives way to the vibrant colours, blues and greens, and summer temperatures of New Zealand in its pomp.

For Dick and Peyron’s it will be their first sight of land since their technical stop in Brazil on 15-16 January, for MAPFRE and Estrella Damm probably since leaving the Mediterranean five weeks ago.

Virbac-Paprec 3 are still expected to start their passage of the Straits on Wednesday afternoon or evening. Their arrival to the northern corner looks set to become increasingly slowed by the light winds of the high pressure.

Saturday the crews of Estrella Damm and MAPFRE reported unusually big waves at around 47 degrees south, in strong SW’ly winds, waves which were significantly bigger than those suggested on the weather forecasts for the area.

These formations happen occasionally driven by a range of different factors, sometimes what Anglo Saxons call ‘freak’ waves, but are usually the result of the aggregation of different swells and wind waves.

The weather scenario still looks generally favourable for the top three boats for their approach to the Cook Strait.

Positions at 14:00hrs UTC, Sunday 13 February

1. Virbac-Paprec, 12162 nm to finish

2. Mapfre, 504 nm to leader

3. Estrella Damm Sailing Team, 627

4. Groupe Bel, 908

5. Renault Z.E, 1471

6. Mirabaud, 1796

7. Neutrogena, 1796 

8. Hugo Boss, 2091

9. Gaes Centros Auditivos, 2189

10. Forum Maritim Catala, 3651

11. Central Lechera Asturiana, 3981

12. We Are Water, 4057



For more, visit www.barcelonaworldrace.org