Now into the fast tradewinds, there is little between the leaders of the Barcelona World Race
Now firmly into quick downwind tradewinds sailing after the Canary Islands, the lead of the Barcelona World Race swapped again this afternoon not long after Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart gybed on to a more southerly course on Foncia.
While Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) and Loïck Peyron (FRA) carried on, the leaders for the last five days, investing a more westerly track on Virbac-Paprec 3, the more direct route south towards the equator computes as an immediate gain for Foncia, the other half of the leading duopoly.
The well established tradewinds will offer some four days or so of fast conditions. The skippers have spoken since breaking out of the Mediterranean about establishing a real ‘ocean racing routine’.
With the trade winds should come the real chance to set a more settled routine. The protracted spell of NE’ly breezes of 17-25 knots should see manouvers, gybes, as the only interruptions to the fixed pattern of work and rest.
On today’s radio and audio vacs young skipper Ryan Breymaier (USA) – round the world rookie – and Mirabaud’s much more experienced Dominique Wavre (SUI) – on his seventh race circumnavigation – sounded slightly tired after their first week of racing, and both will look forward to the settled rhythm of the trades. Wavre admitted it was tiring and stressful, Breymaier said they were finding it quite easy to push the boat so hard.
Breymaier and Boris Herrmann (GER) have been setting the bar high on their Neutrogena in eighth place, and in the mix of the five boat pack which is still lead by the Olympic medallists Iker Martinez (ESP) and Xabi Fernandez (ESP) who in fifth have five miles in hand over Jean Le Cam and Bruno Garcia (ESP) in sixth.
This tightly packed group, with 24 miles from fifth to ninth-placed Dee Caffari (GBR) and Anna Corbella (ESP) , really does comprise the race’s most varied cross section of duos, all presently putting in the same level of performance.
From the Olympic duos on their IMOCA big race debut, to the highly accomplished Le Cam and Catalan round the world first time, to the well proven Groupe Bel, the hard driving Neutrogena duo to the GAES girls, the pace is tough and even between these boats just now but the cavalcade of the trade-winds will see much more of straight speed drag race.
For the pack which is chasing them there is the passage of the Canary Islands to deal with. They will have the chance to use the acceleration zones between the islands, where the wind funnels between the high land, as an opportunity to gain or to lose miles.
And to underline this final phase before the proper ‘routine’ that will come with the race south, fresh food is finished. Neutrogena, Virbac-Paprec 3 and Mirabaud all confirmed that they are down to the nitty gritty of freeze dried food now, save for a little remaining fresh fruit.
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