Count down begins
Today the official countdown begins for the Barcelona World Race, with just 50 days to go until the start on 31 December when 15 entries are set to be on the start line. The team in charge of organising this project, including six of the 13 Spanish skippers, taking part were at the Barcelona International Boat Show yesterday to present this adventure to the public.
Representatives of the Barcelona World Race highlighted how the event has grown from nine entries to 15, despite the global economic downturn.
“If someone had said to us during the first edition of the regatta that we'd have 15 boats and 30 skippers racing, we wouldn't have believed them”, said Pere Alcober, Sports Councilor for Barcelona City Council and President of the Fundació Navegació Oceánica Barcelona (FNOB), the body responsible for organising the regatta. Alcober also expressed the satisfaction at having an all-female crew among the participants, made up of Barcelona's Anna Corbella and Britain's Dee Caffari: “It's no small matter: we didn't manage to set this up for the first edition, but now here we are”.
Luis Conde, President of the Salón Náutico, highlighted the need for “pushing the limits”, just as the BWR skippers do when they race, to pull the country and industry out of the downturn with projects like these.
Andor Serra, Director General of the FNOB also announced the celebrations to be held on 18 December for the inauguration of the regatta Expo in Barcelona. “It's going to be very special, no run of the mill affair”, he said. “That's because all of the skippers as well as the 40 or more sponsors we have supporting us are all very special”. He also underlined the fact that this is the first time 13 Spaniards will take part in a circumnavigation together, adding “as well as ample national interest in the regatta from within Spain, we also have the world's best skippers taking part”.
Following this initial presentation, six of the 13 Spanish skippers took the stage for a joint press conference, in which they spoke of the extremely tough nature of the challenge, as well as the comprehensive training they have all undertaken and the sense of excitement as the start of the competition draws closer.
Barcelona had three skippers there: Anna Corbella, Jaume Mumbrú and Cali Sanmartí, as well as Gerard Marín from the Catalan town of Figueras, not far away from the city. They described "the dream", which is not only taking part in a round the world regatta, but to do so by setting off and finishing in your home town, as well as the fact that the competition is named after the city. Sanmartí (We are Water) also spoke of his pride at transmitting his passion for the sport to the city, as well as the responsibility that comes with the expectations of a challenge such as this.
When asked about the the inclement Southern oceans, Anna Corbella (GAES Centros Auditivos) admitted that she hadn't been able to train down there, but added: “I am lucky enough to have someone of the calibre of Dee (Caffari, her co-skipper, the only woman to have sailed solo around the globe in both directions) beside me, with her wealth of experience. She has been there and she knows what we have to do once we're there”.
Santander's Pachi Rivero (Renault ZE), the only ever Spaniard to complete in the Barcelona World Race to date, is back for the second edition. He said that the Southern Ocean “where it's cold and there are waves and lots of wind, is the most beautiful area in the regatta”. His co-skipper Toño Piris is also from the Northern Spanish city of Santander and with two round the world races behind him he said that the IMOCA Open 60s the skippers will race on “are very light boats, with a lot of sail and lots of stability, but they're also very demanding”.
On that point, Mumbrú (We Are Water) agreed: “Heavy structural loads the yachts have to handle and the difficulty of solving problems” that can come up. He said that it is therefore important to prepare and be one step ahead of what might happen.
Marín (Fòrum Marítim Català), one of the youngest skippers taking part in the regatta at 28 years old, said that these yachts were “a lot tougher than the Minis” he'd sailed until now, and “mistakes can be costly”.