As anticipated by many, Virbac-Paprec 3 has tacked north again this afternoon, taking a short hitch to avoid passing directly through the Canary Islands and the long wind shadows cast by the high mountains, especially Tenerife. With some 90 miles left to reach the westernmost extremity of the islands, Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron will take a short hitch back to the north before extending east all the way to the Moroccan coast.
On Mapfre Iker Martinez retains his fierce optimism, believing that there will be chances to pull back some miles on the leading pair after they have passed the Canary Islands. He reported: “All is good on board and we are pressing on. Right now we are beating, upwind which we have been doing pretty much since the Equator. I don’t remember when we last did such a long upwind, I guess since the last Volvo, but it is not really upwind like the Copa del Rey, tacking back and forth. As for our food situation, well it is really precipitated by a problem we have had with some of the freeze dried which got contaminated, we will find out how or why later, but we have been rationing it for three weeks now, but in fact we are quite used to watching our weight for the 49er racing, so it is not unusual for us.
"The problem with the daggerboard is not so noticeable, on port it goes a little better but we are talking fractions of a knot, but the figures are not so important.
"As far as strategy goes there is not much before the Canary Islands, we make a mainly northerly course and will tack to the east depending on the evolution of the anticyclone, but what seems more complex is after the Canaries to the Straits of Gibraltar when it seems like there will be less wind.
"The race feels like it is counting down the end feels not far away but like others at the stage that kind of makes the days feel longer. This section feels quite long. But the motivation increases all the time. To be closer to the finish really motivates you, just the same as it does in the Olympics. But the tiredness catches up with you now, too. And for us the added problem is the lack of food because after all it is the fuel, and we are lacking fuel
"What worries us, if anything, just now is breaking something because the boat still slams and waves hit the boat a bit, so you are not always forcing it.”
Meanwhile Neutrogena duo Boris Herrmann and his co-skipper Ryan Breymaier are much more frustrated by the fact they cannot cant their keel to its maximum, so losing valuable righting moment as they duel with Estrella Damm. Herrmann’s assertion is backed up by their loss of 14 miles over the last 24 hours to their Spanish rivals, who are now 36 miles ahead.
Herrmann reported: “It is just a bit nuts for us just now because we feel like if we had the full potential of our keel then it would be a totally different game, for us it is like driving a car with only four out of five gears. We cant switch into fifth gear and get the last bit of speed. We reckon that it is almost a knot that we are missing, so it is a good thing for them. They seem to be able to sail away from us with no trouble.
"It is like in a dinghy, a lighter dinghy crew has to sail a higher angle, a closer angle to the wind, trying to do the same VMG like that. That is what we try to do here. The boat has slightly less righting moment, the only option is to sail higher at a slower speed, but that works pretty well. In any case this is a very good boat upwind, which makes us even more mad. If we had everything together we could be doing very well, and sail quite fast.
"Upwind we have established a four hours routine in these conditions, one of us is four hours is controlling the pilot, trimming, and trying to optimise the speed or performance all the time while the other one is down below looking at the weather and stuff like that. I have one good book that I am reading now.
"I play with thoughts when you have time to think just now, the thoughts can take you anywhere into the future, for future professional life I would hope that if it was not sailing it could be in a sector like that (adventure and environmental projects). Maybe every 15 minutes there is one big slam in a wave, but mostly we go through quite smoothly. We have a reef in the main because of the keel, it is a little bit gusty and puffy but we are quite happy with this pace doing 9.5 to 10 knots.
"We don’t have GRIB files which reach from here to Gibraltar so it is hard to make a route more than a week ahead, we expect probably five days upwind on this tack. To be honest I am not pressed by tactical options, I am just hoping the whole scenario will change to give more opportunities. I would like to go into the Pyrenees when I get back, it is not far from Barcelona, maybe still in April so I hope to find time for that.”
For the Spanish-English duo of Anna Corbella and Dee Caffari on GAES Centros Auditivos there is the hope that they will be able to sail the north Atlantic with their IMOCA Open 60 back at very close to 100% potential after completing their ballast tank repair yesterday. Corbella confirmed they will be giving the lamination 48 hours to cure completely before building up to maximum speed.
But the biggest repair of all has been that of Central Lechera who have been in Wellington since 3 March when they arrived with their broken mast, but the team informed Race Direction in Barcelona that they intend to set out from the Kiwi capital tonight.
“Our objective was and continues to be the completion of the circumnavigation. As the Mexican song goes, ‘finishing first is not really the important thing, the important thing is to know how to finish’. We really have this desire to complete what we started” explained Juan Merediz, while his co-skipper, Fran Palacio, explains: “Our shore team, management and the FNOB are doing all in their power for us to be able to fulfill our dream. We do not have enough words of gratitude to express all we feel for this help. Without a doubt we have worked
with the best."