Chris Cameron / www.chriscameron.co.nz

Battle for third place

Renault's position under threat in the Barcelona World Race

Tuesday March 1st 2011, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: none selected

The battle for third place in the Barcelona World Race may appear to be slightly remote from the leading duo, more than 1400 miles behind Virbac-Paprec 3 and Mapfre, which this afternoon had around 1200 miles to make to Cape Horn, but the trio of contenders should have stepped into more even and more robust conditions this afternoon to ensure the three cornered fight should be even more engaging.

Renault's Pachi Rivero and Toño Piris have not really been granted the firepower over recent days to be able to protect their podium place, their lead being eroded progressively by Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret on Mirabaud in fifth and more so by Ryan Breymaier and Boris Herrmann on Neutrogena. But with the passage of the front of a new low pressure system which is not reaching all three of them, all three will now be in a building breeze which already sees Neutrogena making more than 17 knots this afternoon.

Neutrogena had caught up to 44 miles behind Renault Z.E Sailing Team this afternoon, making up 190 miles since the Spanish pair lead them into the Cook Strait on eight days ago.

Looking tired but content today, the product as much of having spent Saturday and part of Sunday fixing their hydrogenerator system, Ryan Breymaier explained: “I think that we have been benefiting from the building breeze following behind us, and Renault Z.E probably have had the lighter breeze than we do, because Mirabaud have been doing the same thing to us. I think that the pressure should even out over the course and in the next three or four hours and we should all be in similar breeze.

"It is nice that we have finally caught up with my Spanish buddies. I thought that we had them when we left Gibraltar and were a fair way ahead of them and they passed us like we were sitting still. I head my head in my hands and so it is nice to finally be back.”

Following their beating from the ex-cyclone Aku, the crew from Estrella Damm reported in. Alex Pella: "We both still have quite a bit of pain. I hope it's nothing but it hurts when have to make a physical effort. We keep taking ibuprofen. We are now about 60 miles from the gate and we are really looking forward to pass it as a first step to forget everything we've been through last week and at the weekend. Groupe Bel has stretched a bit because in the last two watches we have fallen into a little wind hole caused by the tropical depression, but now the wind has returned and we are sailing at 18 knots. I hope the wind really comes until the gate and we start walking strong.”

Pepe Ribes: "It hurts pretty much on the side. I cannot operate the winch or the grinder. It's a little annoying, but I'm taking the medication that the Teknon tell us and I hope that in two or three days I will be better. It is what it is. We better get better because the days are coming strong and we will need to push hard. "

By tomorrow morning Gerard Marin and Ludovic Aglaor should have docked in Wellington on Forum Maritím Catalá. Both crew seem in need of the short respite on dry land as their boat, formerly Ellen MacArthur’s Kingfisher, is in need of repairs to the fresh water making systems, some minor sail repairs, a halyard replacement and remedial work to their hydrogenerator system. Indeed both said today they were most looking forward to good sleep and decent food. Veteran Aglaor, who broke the round the world Jules Verne Trophy record in 2005 as part of Bruno Peyron’s Orange 2 crew, said he is looking forward to a good steak and proper sleep, echoed by his younger Spanish co-skipper.

At the front of the fleet the Pacific face off between leaders Virbac-Paprec 3, who have been at the head of the fleet since 23 January, and Mapfre has lost none on its intensity, indeed with the promise of a fast, but challenging rounding of Cape Horn, the two leading duos remain on the edge while also reviewing their final approach which will be driven by a low pressure system which is entirely in keeping with what would be expected off the wind ravaged promontory. According to current routeing models the leader should pass Cape Horn perhaps between 0600 and 0800 on Thursday morning.

Problems have continued since yesterday with the tracking transmitter on Mapfre which has been tracked intermittently using the secondary Sat C system. All is known to be well on board. There are two main tracking systems, the main one which is automatic tracks an Iridium beacon generating a signal which is processed every 30 minutes which is the primary tracking system. Each boat carries three of these beacons which have their own power source and are hence entirely independent of the boat’s power system. The secondary system is the Sat C which can be polled independently as back up, it is plugged into the boats power source. At present the problem has been with Mapfre’s Iridium system and their Sat C system has been giving an intermittent signal. The crew, Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez are expected to be able to replace the faulty transmitter imminently with the first of their two back-up units.

A fast but challenging passage of the Tasman is promised for Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti on We Are Water. Mumbrú explained today: "We've had favorable winds around 25 knots and stable. We sailed well, fast and comfortable to the 49S, we gybed and we are going towards Cook and tonight there will be a big storm. We will get it after midnight with winds up to 50 knots. Fortunately, this storm is not going to be reaching, it is not clear but looks like we'll get the wind from behind. We do not know what the impact will be on the sea, the waves and currents but we are hoping the wind will push us in the right direction. We would have to reach Cook in four days.”

Mumbrú commented on the duo’s favourite items which have lifted their spirits during their long spell in the Southern Ocean: “Gore Tex socks, essential to keep the socks dry and the feet warm inside and outside on the boat. The Spinlock knee pads (used outside the foul-weather gear, inside it tears the lining). The book The Long Journey by Bernard Moiteissier, which we re-read constantly, a masterpiece. The “turrones” (typical Christmas sweet made out of almonds) from Mauri (famous bakery from Barcelona) which we embarked for the South-stage as replacement of the energy bars. Ensure chocolate shakes, the Puff ball (bean bags) from Roser, vital for those who live in a minimalist area on the floor of the boat. The sleeping bags from Angel of Diamir, the cold goes away completely (after is twice as hard to go on watch) The Fénix frontal head light that Jaime Arbones suggested The music from the Scottish band "Camera Obscura" ...

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