The routing may be slower and slightly more frustrating than when he was off the Azores counting down the miles to victory in 2008, but Jean-Pierre Dick is hoping the net result will be the same, as the French skipper, along with Loïck Peyron remains firmly in control of the second edition of the Barcelona World Race.
With just over 1200 miles to the finish, this afternoon the lead of Virbac-Paprec 3 is computed to be 267 miles over Spanish rivals Mapfre.
On a continued long beat which is currently almost devoid of tactical opportunities, Dick and Peyron’s confidence must grow with each mile towards the finish, but both know very well the pitfalls and slowdowns which can happen in the fickle Spring winds of the Mediterranean, especially overnight. And memories of the problematic exits from the Straits of Gibraltar 84 days ago are not exactly dead and buried.
Three years ago in the first edition of the Barcelona World Race Dick had Ireland’s Damian Foxall at his side and on the 87th day of racing on Paprec-Virbac 2 they were sailing on an almost direct easterly course at 14-15 knots of boat speed, having passed to the west of the Azores high and heading directly for Gibraltar which they passed on Day 90.
This time it is an uphill struggle, climbing past the Canaries today toward the Moroccan coast which they will scale this week, expecting to pass Gibraltar Thursday night, on the night of Day 91. In 2008 Dick had a lead of 678 miles over Hugo Boss 2, with Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret third at 1507 miles behind the leader.
And in third place in today’s race it is the Barcelona World Race’s only remaining ‘second-timer’ Pachi Rivero, racing with Toño Piris. On Renault Z.E Sailing Team, formerly Loick Peyron's Gitana 80, they are still holding off the 2007-8 race winning former Paprec-Virbac 2, now Estrella Damm. Rivero and Piris have nicely strengthened their hand by another five miles today to 160 miles.
Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella passed the Equator this morning at between 0930 and 0945 GMT, ready to celebrate not just for their return into their ‘home’ hemisphere, but because they have been blessed with favourable 10-12 knots of easterly breezes for their ‘Doldrums’ so far, and because they have also completed their composite repair to the forward ballast tank, Caffari said: "The first repair I did on the outside of the tank, which we thought would be sufficient did not really take very well, and Joff (Brown, boat captain) told us we were moving too much and that the flexing of the hull ring frame was too much so the resin did not take and have a chance to cure, so we went for kill or cure, and we have gone inside the bow tank and so I had two jobs to do (the repair and close the tank again) and that is why we really slowed down to reduce the movement. The worst job was doing all the sanding, preparing the surfaces, there was carbon dust everywhere which was horrible in this heat.
"We have given it 48 hours, doing 24 hours very slowly and sailed really easily for another 24 hours and as Joff said that is as good as it is going to get. So now we need to keep an eye on it. The worst thing for it is, of course, upwind on starboard tack, which is what we have for the next week to ten days. We will have to be quite careful and sail for the sea state, and try not to slam too much. We are in right hemisphere, we are on countdown and it is all more positive now.
"I think that’s my tenth equator [crossing]. It is outrageous when I think about it. I feel very lucky because some people do it once in a lifetime. It is frustrating in a way thought because we have had really good weather, we have made gains but had the boat been at 100% I am confident I would have been a couple of hundred miles up the course, closer to the boats in front, so it is a little frustrating but we all have got issues, including the keel on Neutrogena for example, but we have done the repair, we still have breeze and have not stopped, we have not stopped, so we are in the right place and we are heading home. I feel positive."
After a difficult 24 hours in very big and confused seas during which they were largely unable to get upwind into the 40 knots NNEerly winds due to their lack of mainsail and the fact that the steep waves were coming at them side-on, Jaume Mumbru and Cali Sanmarti had got to within 35 miles of passing the longitude of Cape Horn on We Are Water, finally making 11 knots after the winds had clocked to a more favourable northwesterly direction.
Central Lechera Asturiana have remained on hold in Wellington due to an adverse weather forecast, partly to see how Tropical Storm Bune develops.
From on board Hugo Boss Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak report: "Boots are off, retired, and shoes are on. That means the end of the south and the cold southerlies, and we are making the transition into the warmer trade winds off the Brazil coast. It has been an amazing relief to get into warmer climates, the fascinating fact is that everything starts to grow again, your nails, your hair, after six weeks in the southern ocean everything starts growing, so it looks like the body finally has some energy again for more than just looking after itself. I don’t know how the first bike ride is going to feel, but for sure I want to do a triathlon this summer I will need to put in some solid hours on the bike.
"Wouter normally does the bow when we do manoeuvres and so he gets to walk further than I do each day, so I am probably in worse shape than him.
"The upper body gets a good work out all the time, grinding and lifting sails and so on, but that side of it returns pretty quickly but you don’t walk more than 60 feet a day, so there is not a lot of exercise going on.
"We have a list of ideas or things which we think to help Alex and that is one of them (Cammas bicycle winch).
"At this stage we just do all we can to keep some air going through the boat.
"I think a little more comfort is always helpful, but after 85 days we are pretty used to what we see, we would get a shock if we got on another boat.
"It is an exciting summer for both of us, with the IMOCA 60’s on the Europa Race, with the Fastnet, Transtlantic races at the start of the summer and the end of the summer, there is J Class regatta in Newport, a lot of exciting events on the calendar, and the Volvo Ocean Race, we will be looking at our calendars and seeing if anyone is still phoning us up for work.
"We have had an amazing sleigh ride since the Falklands, now we have to make the transition into the Trade Winds, unfortunately the Trade Winds in front of us are pretty weak, so there is quite a big transition are we have to go through, at the moment we have 9 knots, and we expect to have quite light winds for the next two to three days to get to trades and make way to the Doldrums.”