As Paprec-Virbac 2, the lead boat in the Barcelona World Race nears the finish line, it is facing tough upwind conditions. Tacking upwind into more than 35 knots and big waves, the team of Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall have their nearest competitor, Hugo Boss, gaining ground on them. To top it off, they are running low on food. Sounds like a dramatic way to finish a race around the world.
From the press release: Winning a global, non-stop, short-handed ocean race is never easy, but the two sailors on Paprec-Virbac 2 are facing a very stern test in the closing days of their circumnavigation. With the finishing line just 700 miles away, the wind and waves have picked up dramatically, and the second placed boat is closing fast. To add to the difficult circumstances on board, food is now in short supply with the finish still four days away.
“It’s very windy now and quite rough on board,” said an audibly tense Jean-Pierre when he was reached this afternoon. “We are sailing upwind of course, expecting even stronger winds. Now we have 25 knots, big waves, and we’re keeping our finger crossed. We have not been fast these last hours, mostly because of the waves which are up to three metres. The swell is very short and strong, and the boat is pounding into the waves a lot. It’s not great for our speed and not good for our tired boat. We’re going to have similar conditions after Gibraltar, but that’s the way the race goes. The wind is like this.”
Piling the pressure on the leader is Hugo Boss. The black boat has completed a phenomenal 24 hours in gaining just a shade under 200 miles. The margin between first and second is now less than 400 miles and the forecast continues to favour skippers Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape who are cutting the corner to Gibraltar. Although it won’t be long before Hugo Boss is tacking up the strong headwinds as well.
The cat and mouse game between Temenos II and Mutua Madrilena continues with a new twist. After days of shadowing each other, Mutua Madrilena made a move towards the west overnight, as conditions became slightly less stable. The move didn’t pay off initially as it takes them further from their goal at Gibraltar. But the team is hoping that stronger winds will compensate for the extra distance.