The race leaders have profited from a quick exit from the Gibraltar Straits as the rest of the fleet suffer very light winds

The first Barcelona World Race trophy was taken by Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron when they won the first of the six stage trophies – the North-South Mediterranean Trophy – after sailing into the Atlantic and passing Gibraltar at 19:55 UTC on Monday night.

But the Virbac-Paprec duo, second placed Foncia and third placed Mirabaud will all have looked back today at the frustration and disappointment in their wake as their rivals spent hours trapped in the Straits of Gibraltar and given thanks that, by comparison, their escapes were relatively simple.

“We have 25 miles to go to the exit. But we have three knots of wind and don’t progress. The current has been up to five knots. Like this it could be hours before we get there. Or days,” explained Anna Corbella (ESP) yesterday afternoon from GAES Centros Auditivos.

“It’s been the worst of our lives,” said Boris Herrmann (GER, Neutrogena). “If no wind comes we could be here forever. And that’s frightening.”

Virbac Paprec 3 have profited from their quick exit, heading south west with twice the speed of second placed Foncia to extend their margin to 56 miles this afternoon.

Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA) and François Gabart (FRA) on Foncia appear to be sticking with a more westerly track and have 20.5 miles in hand over third placed Dominique Wavre (SUI) and Michèle Paret (FRA) on Mirabaud who have put their incident with Moroccan officials yesterday afternoon behind them and gained nicely in third. Wavre put some of their recent success down to good fortune, making the right sail selection at the right time to drive themselves free of the Straits’ grasping tentacles.

And while the leaders have got away, and may extend still further, the difficult combination of very light winds and fast flowing westerly current in the Straits has halted their adversaries for many hours. Neutrogena’s co-skipper Herrmann reckoned they were no more than half an hour from Mirabaud on Monday afternoon, but while Wavre and Paret passed the 5 deg 37 mark at 00:50 UTC early yesterday morning, the American-German finally escaped to the Atlantic at 16:30 UTC – the fifth boat to break out of the Med.

It’s been especially tough for those who two days ago chose that Spanish coast option. As Kito de Pavant noted sagely from Groupe Bel, they were in touch with the leaders but now they are ninth and have a deficit of 144 miles on Virbac-Paprec 3.

Meanwhile British skipper Alex Thomson should be back in the UK, after being declared fit enough to return home to follow a strict rehabilitation programme designed to have him ready to beat the 10 day medical assessment deadline.

After that deadline Thomson and the Hugo Boss team must have a schedule agreed with Race Direction for the skipper to join the boat.

Standings at 14:00 UCT, Tuesday 4 January
1 Jean Pierre Dick – Loick Peyron Virbac-Paprec 3 23961.5 miles to finish
2 Michel Desjoyeaux – Francois Gabart Foncia +56.5 miles
3 Dominique Wavre – Michele Paret Mirabaud +77 miles
4 Alex Pella – Pepe Ribes Estrella Damm Sailing Team +89.7 miles,
5 Boris Herrmann – Ryan Breymaier Neutrogena +113.9 miles
6 Dee Caffari – Anna Corbella Gaes Centros Auditivos +115.5 miles
7 Iker Martinez – Xabi Fernandez Mapfre +142.miles
8 Jean le Cam – Bruno Garcia President +143.9 miles
9 Kito de Pavant – Sebastien Audigane Groupe Bel +144.2 miles
10 Jaume Mumbru – Cali Sanmarti We Are Water +181 miles
11 Gerard Marin – Ludovic Aglaor Foruma Maritim Catala +183.5miles
12 Pachi Rivero – Antonio Piris Renault Z.E. +187.8miles
13 Juan Merediz – Fran Palacio Central Lechera Asturiana + 188.8 miles
14 Wouter Verbraak – Andy Meiklejohn Hugo Boss +225.9 miles