Thierry Martinez / www.thmartinez.com

First past the Cape of Good Hope

Cheminees Poujoulat leads the Barcelona World Race into the Indian Ocean

Sunday January 25th 2015, Author: Helen Fretter, Location: none selected

The first of the iconic Great Capes has been passed in the Barcelona World Race with Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat crossing 20°E, the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope, 400 miles to the south earlier at 0935 UTC today and have begun the Indian Ocean leg of their race.

Second-placed Neutrogena initially looked set to follow just four or five hours behind, but lighter westerlies have hindered their exit from the Atlantic. Crew Guillermo Altadill and Jose Muñoz, who opted for a much more southerly approach to the Cape, now look set to make the crossing at 1900-2000 this evening and are around 160 miles behind, almost directly west of the lead boat.

Renault accelerates

GAES Centros Auditivos and Renault Captur have meanwhile been gaining on the front pair, shaving 20 miles off their advantage over the course of the day as they clock up 17-18 knot speeds.

After a lengthy period of delays off the western coast of Africa, Jörg Riechers and Sebastien Audigane on Renault Captur were relieved to switch into speed mode in 28-30 knot southwesterlies this morning, and have their targets set on third-placed GAES Centros Auditivos, around 500 miles to the east.

Riechers reported: “We are capable, we are faster than the fifth boat [We Are Water], so we’ll stay there and if we see an opportunity to catch up we will do that. If we are lucky we can get on the podium, if we’re not lucky we stay fourth.

“We expect more than one and a half days like this, after that it gets a bit lighter, more east, so bigger headsails. And then the first technical hard bit will be the Madagascar high, which is probably blocking the course in the next 10 days, so that could be an opportunity for us to attack a little bit, and if GAES get unlucky and we get lucky, but speed-wise we’ll have to do good to catch GAES because it’s a really fast boat and they’re sailing really well.”

One Ocean, many colours

By contrast, One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton has firmly hit the brakes, with a high pressure system currently tracking east, directly across their path. Crew Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa were sailing at just 1.2 knots this morning with light and unstable southerlies severely hindering progress, averaging sub-5 knots. Gelabert commented: “For the next 24 hours we will expect that there’s a high pressure on top of us so we need to be patient because we will be quite slow today.”

However the crew reiterated that their goals are not purely about performance – they are also taking part in scientific and environmental projects, and completing the circumnavigation is a major goal. “We are going quite fast and we try to push as hard as possible, but always keeping in mind that our goal is to finish not to win. And if we need to reduce sail just to be more careful and more safety, we will do it, we don’t take any risks, and we try to go as fast as possible.”

Thoughts onboard One Planet One Ocean are also turning to the South. Like Reichers, and the Garcia brothers on We Are Water, this will the first time in the Southern Oceans for Aleix and Didac, Aleix explaining: “For the south what we feel is respect. I don’t feel nervous now but I feel respect because neither of us have been sailing there, it will be our first time. We have talked with a lot of people that have been there but you never know exactly what it is until you get there.”

Indian welcome

The leaders entering the Indian Ocean will initially see a confused sea state following a period of changeable winds to the east of South Africa. Cheminées Poujoulat was sailing this afternoon in 15-18 knot westerlies that look set to strength to 25-28 knots this evening. However, within the next 24-36 hours an east-moving low pressure system should pass to the south of the lead boats, bringing fast 35-40 windspeeds.

With 10-12 days likely to separate the first and last boats by the time the entire fleet is in the Indian Ocean, race organisers have also announced a minor change to the An tarctic Exclusion Zone in order to protect the boats at the rear of the fleet. In Amendment 2 of Appendix 7 five points have been moved north 1°-2°.

Race Director Jacques Caraes explained the decision: “With our partner CLS and meteorologist Marcel Van Triest we decided to move some points slightly further north after detecting floating ice just north of the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands, and we must ensure the safety of the whole fleet.” As per the pre-race agreement, the teams have been notified before any boat reaches the longitude of 30°E.

Positions at 1400 UTC

1. Cheminées Poujoulat (B. Stamm – J. Le Cam) at 17,579.2 miles to the finish
2. Neutrogena (G. Altadill – J. Muñoz) + 167.0 miles to leader
3. GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella – G. Marín) + 563.0 miles to leader
4. Renault Captur (J. Riechers – S. Audigane) + 1096.6 miles to leader
5. We Are Water (B. Garcia – W. Garcia) + 1582.1 miles to leader
6. One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert – D. Costa) + 2048.7 miles to leader
7. Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa – C. Colman) + 2563.7 miles to leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)
Skippers’ quotes:

Jorg Riechers, Renault Captur

“It’s getting colder and colder every day. It went from 15-20 knots and 30-degree air temperature to 30 knots and 3-degree air temperature, so it goes from shorts and flip flops to sailing boots and polar tops.

“We’ve got 30 knots gusting up to 35, we’re sailing with one reef in the main, the J2 genoa, so it’s pretty easy stuff at the moment.

“It’s good for now because you are spending more time inside the boat, so basically it’s a different style of sailing now.

“We are fourth, which is good with what we have with the boat. We are capable, we are faster than the fifth boat, so we’ll stay there and if we see an opportunity to catch up we will do that. If we are lucky we can get on the podium, if we’re not lucky we stay fourth. That’s like it is at the moment.

“We expect more than one and a half days like this, after that it gets a bit lighter, more east, so bigger headsails. And then the first technical hard bit will be the Madagascar high, which is probably blocking the course in the next 10 days, so that could be an opportunity for us to attack a little bit, and if GAES get unlucky and we get lucky, but speed-wise we’ll have to do good to catch GAES because it’s a really fast boat and they’re sailing really well.”

Aleix Gelabert, One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton

“For the next 24 hours we will expect that there’s a high pressure on top of us so we need to be patient because we will be quite slow today. This high pressure is ready to pass over us, and then we will have new wind, a stronger wind, which will lead us to go to the east and to the south, which is where we want to go.

“Well, for the south what we feel is respect. I don’t feel nervous now but I feel respect because neither of us have been sailing there, it will be our first tim e.

Well we know what we are going to find there, because we have talked with a lot of people that have been there but you never know exactly what it is until you get there. So we want to arrive there to see what it is, but we also to go there and go out there quickly, so we come back to the Atlantic and come back home.

“The boat is performing quite well, I think if we think that it is nearly 15 years old. So we happy with the boat. We are going quite fast and we try to push as hard as possible, but always keeping in mind that our goal is to finish not to win. And if we need to reduce sail just to be more careful and more safety, we will do it, we don’t take any risks, and we try to go as fast as possible.”

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