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BWR – a month at sea – 02 February 2015

Barcelona World Race skippers reflect on one month of racing
Former competitor Jérémie Beyou assesses the competition
Two merged tropical cyclonic systems set to cross leaders’ path Monday evening
GAES Centros Auditivos makes a break from the high.

BWR HANDS a-month-at-sea ©BWR skippers

BWR HANDS a-month-at-sea ©BWR skippers

The Barcelona World Race skippers have been racing for one month, and the toll of covering nearly 10,000 miles is beginning to show on the faces of the 14 skippers.
The seven partnerships – some lifelong, others hurriedly formed – have developed as each team finds their own rhythm of living and sailing together. Each has been tested, but each spoke of their appreciation of life at sea. The competition remains intense, with just over 200 miles between the two leading boats, and 150 miles separating third and fourth.

Former Barcelona World Race competitor Jérémie Beyou (who sailed in the first edition with Sydney Gavignet, until being dismasted in the Indian Ocean) commented: “The race at the front is very intensive, very interesting. We see two ways of sailing. Guillermo is from the same school as Alex Thomson, aggressive, constantly attacking. Cheminées is smoother. I think I recognise Jean’s hand in their style of navigation.

“The crew of GAES Centros Auditivos are also having a good race. Guys like Jean, Bernard and Guillermo know exactly when you need to be 110% and when we can ease back a l ittle. In the end, it makes the difference.”

Aggressive merger?

For the leaders, Cheminées Poujoulat and Neutrogena, the Indian Ocean may be about to lay down its biggest challenge yet, with two merged tropical cyclones due to cross their path over the course of this evening and tomorrow, as the low pressure system tracks south.

The leaders have, uncharacteristically, backed off – reducing sail area (three reefs for Cheminées Poujoulat), reducing pace and putting nearly 200 miles between themselves and the Antarctic Exclusion Zone. All will be monitoring the system’s progression closely. At its most severe it has potential to bring 55-knot winds and 6-8m seas, or it may track south more rapidly, with the leaders avoiding the most severe conditions — on Monday afternoon both were sailing in around 25-knot south-westerlies.

Third time lucky

For third placed Anna Corbella and Gerard Mari n, fortune may be turning. GAES Centros Auditivos has been caught in a high pressure system for four days – Anna commenting today that she felt as if it had trapped her three times – but is this afternoon back up to nearly 14 knots of boat speed.

Equally importantly for them, Renault Captur, who has closed to 150 miles of the third boat, now sees their speeds dropping to 10 knot paces as they in turn begin to feel the effects of the high.

Elsewhere in the fleet, there was an appreciation of the simple things in life. Conrad Colman on Spirit of Hungary joked: “We’ve got a crisis on board and it is that all of our socks are wet, and so we need to run the engine to make some heat so we can do some laundry and dry our socks! But considering that that’s the biggest problem that we have at the moment, life is pretty good.”

Jean Le Cam also commented: “We’re eating well, sleeping well, with no particular concerns, that’s life … fortunately, because we still have two months more ahead. We’ve got gas and water, we can keep warm and eat, so we’ve got no worries.”

Aleix Gelabert was also in reflective mood on One Planet One Ocean and Pharmaton, writing today: “With all the respect that it deserves, being very aware that we are sailing in the Indian Ocean, we will continue sailing in the best possible way and enjoying the maximum out of every single moment of this incredible Barcelona World Race.”

Top and low speeds

One month into the race, and the record for fastest in fleet goes to leaders Cheminées Poujoulat, averaging 18.5 knots over a 24-hour period in the South Atlantic, and sharing the honours over a four-hourly period with the now retired Hugo Boss, at a 20-knot average pace.

Spirit of Hungary suffered the slowest four-hour period in the Mediterranean, averaging just 0.9 knots, with the sam e average achieved between two points by GAES Centros Auditivosin the Indian Ocean and One Planet One Ocean in the Doldrums.

Rankings at 1400hrs UTC Monday 2nd February 2015

Cheminées Poujoulat (B. Stamm – J. Le Cam) at 14,885.2 miles to the finish
Neutrogena (G. Altadill – J. Muñoz) + 217.8 miles to the leader
GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella – G. Marín) + 1,112.6 miles to the leader
Renault Captur (J. Riechers – S. Audigane) + 1,274.0 miles to the leader
We Are Water (B. Garcia – W. Garcia) + 2,022.0 miles to the leader
One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert – D. Costa) + 2,408.2 miles to the leader
Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa – C. Colman) + 2,876.3 miles to the leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)
Skipper comments:

Anna Corbella, GAES Centros Auditivos

“We are concerned because [Renault Captur] is gaining on us, more than this, it is a kick in the teeth for us because they were quite far away. And now, thanks to bad luck, we have an anticyclone that has allowed them to catch us. They have not stopped for a moment, they’ve been gaining miles. But it won’t be easy for them to overtake us because with the same meteo and conditions we’ve always been, for the whole race, sailing faster than they are and I guess this is not going to change.

“Anyway we’ve taken advantage of the situation by repairing the boat and resting a lot. But if it just happens to you meanwhile the others are gaining miles and you cannot, it can make you quite angry and so in the end you have to make do with what you have and take advantage of the chance to fix things, rest and make the best of the conditions.”

Bernard St amm, Cheminées Poujoulat

“After the trade winds, it went pretty well, we managed to catch onto a front to reach the Southern Ocean, which was good because we were able to keep the wind. Then we carried the wind into a slightly stronger depression, and we’ve kept the wind so far, it’s not bad. Now we are beginning to feel tired, but we manage to swop over between one man who is resting and one man who is on the helm, so it’s not so bad. For now all is well. We still have some small technical problems that complicate life a little between the wind sensor and the halyards. These issues are being resolved but it is not finished. But otherwise, the boat is going well.”

Guillermo Altadill, Neutrogena

“The first month has been mainly spent in the Atlantic, which is conditions of trade winds and highs. Then last week we changed completely into Southern Ocean mode, where conditions are completely different. So almost all conditions we’ll see ar ound the world, we got last month. Since we sailed from Barcelona we’ve had almost all directions, sea states, highs, lows, Doldrums – it’s been very intense, especially the first times when Hugo Boss and Cheminées were close. The last week has been a bit more relaxed, because Cheminées is pulling away a little bit and we are pulling away from next boat.

“So it was a good month to get to know myself more, and we know as well how to sail the boat as fast as possible in the safe mode, so we have improved quite a lot of things in the last month.

“The best moments are probably when you’re sailing fast and relaxed, and you can make a cup of tea and talk. There have a few of those, especially in the Atlantic.

“The bad moments probably are always in the same place, which is the Doldrums where you’re a bit frustrated. You know you can’t move, you’ve got wind coming from everywhere and it is for us the worst moment.”

Jorg Riechers, Re nault Captur

“For us the first two weeks were a little bit tough because we struggled a little bit to get into the rhythm, and we struggled a little bit to get into the wind and into the waves. Which was also where we gained our deficit at the beginning.

“And now, since a good two weeks or 10 days, we are really getting into the race, we’re sailing the boat in a good way, we are getting miles back onto the third placed GAES, so we are pretty happy with how the race is at the moment.

“You have so many good moments on the boat together! Probably the nicest was sailing under spinnaker just after we got of the St Helena High, because it was a big relief to get out of the St Helena high and it was still warm, sunny, that was pretty cool.”

Aleix Gelabert, One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton

“After 32 days sailing on board One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton, we reached a great milestone for us: we crossed the Cape of Good Hope. This is the first of the three ‘Great Capes’ to cross before completing an around the world voyage: Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn.

“Good Hope is the gateway to the Indian Ocean, a fearsome one due to its storms with strong winds and big waves. But, this time, we found it quiet and docile — oddly quiet, I would say.

Both for Didac and me this is the first time we crossed the Cape of Good Hope sailing and we won’t easily forget it. This is one of those memories that we will remember forever.”

Conrad Colman, Spirit of Hungary

“To be reaching in these conditions which are exactly what this boat was designed for, it was quite easy sailing actually. I think we touched 40 knots but the rest of it was sort of low 30s, and so we’re sailing with the Solent Jib or the Staysail, we had relatively small sails but we were absolutely flying. And so it’s pretty satisfying to put big miles on the boat, it’s the fastest that either Nandor or I have gone in a boat, and we’re looking forward to increasing that as the race goes on.

“Nandor and I are very different people but we get along very well, we enjoy each other’s company. So I enjoy talking to him about his previous times, sharing stories. Last night he made me a very nice tea of his own recipe, which was loose-leaf tea with a little bit of honey and a drop of red wine from Lake Balaton, so we’re certainly sharing some nice moments together.”