From Volvo Ocean Race to Barcelona World Race

Nico Martinez / Barcelona World Race
Estrella Damm co-skipper in the Barcelona World Race, Pepe Ribes discusses the move
Skippers in the Barcelona World Race come from all walks of the sailing world and along with Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez on Mapfre, and Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak on Hugo Boss, Pepe Ribes is a name most associated with the Volvo Ocean Race. Long considered one of Spain’s foremost bowmen he has sailed in the fully crewed round the world race three times, first with Grant Dalton on board Amer Sports One, then on Bouwe Bekking’s ‘sinker’ movistar and ultimately with Mapfre’s Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez aboard Telefonica Blue. He has also competed in two America’s Cups with Bravo España and in 2007 with the Swedish Victory Challenge. Over the last 18 months Ribes has been taking on a new challenge – learning to sail IMOCA 60s, boats that in theory are similar to Volvo Open 70s, in that they have a canting keel, but otherwise very different, weighing substantially less and with a much more ‘open’ class rule. For this Barcelona World Race, Ribes is co-skippering the red-hulled Estrella Damm with Spanish former Mini sailor Alex Pella. Although it is a Farr design and the same generation, this boat is not the same Estrella Damm that sailed the last race with Jonathan McKee and Guillermo Altadill (that subsequently went on to become Seb Josse’s Vendee Globe steed BT and most recently Roland Jourdain’s Route du Rhum winner, Veolia Environnement). It does however have a good pedigree in the Barcelona World Race being no other than Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall’s former Virbac Paprec 2, the boat which won the first event. Since the last race, Ribes says the boat has changed considerably. Notably they have managed to shed a huge amount of weight from her. The boat’s unique ‘turntable’ nav station/galley, has gone as has the big satcom dome