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Barcelona World Race

Barcelona World Race – The Southern Ocean sorts out the fleet

2014 – 2015 Barcelona World Race – After a month of racing, the Barcelona World Race fleet is through into the Southern Ocean.

As is often the case, the distances between the boats have widened as they’ve entered the Roaring Forties. The leading crews, who were first to hit the strong winds of the southern latitudes, had a great opportunity to make good their escape.

Indeed, the Saint Helena High had pieced together a ridge of high pressure, which tripped up the bulk of the chasing pack. Only three boats were able to nicely extricate themselves: Cheminées Poujoulat, Neutrogena and GAES Centros Auditivos. It wasn’t until after the Cape of Good Hope that the trio dispersed, Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm gradually gaining the upper hand over Guillermo Altadill and José Muñoz. Meantime, Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin are in the process of losing the advantages of their first month of racing, ensnared in the Mascarene High, which had stretched down to 45° South.

After a month of racing, the duo on Cheminées Poujoulat boast a lead of nearly 24 hours over Neutrogena and have nearly three days on GAES. Spirit of Hungary is positioned some ten days or so behind the leaders.Barcelona World Race

The upshot of all this is that we currently have three separate groups in the race: the two leaders, a sprawling chasing pack comprising GAES, Renault Captur, We Are Water and One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton and finally Spirit of Hungary, which is attempting to make up the deficit it amassed on exiting the Mediterranean.

Exclusion zone, first in vivo testing

After much thought, the Barcelona World Race has decided to modify the device first adopted several years ago in the round the world IMOCA races to keep the competitors away from the ice fields. Indeed, the gate system showed some limitations, which notably translated as a rather sequential navigation from one point to the next. By proposing an exclusion zone, Race Management hopes to give the sailors back some room for manœuvre in terms of their strategic choices, since they are free to sail where they like within the defined lane between the northern latitudes and the exclusion zone located at around 45° South.

In return for this freedom, the exclusion zone means the competitors can no longer plunge southwards to get around a mass of high pressure. This is what is currently hindering progress aboard GAES Centros Auditivos, caught up in light airs with no possibility of escape. Obviously it’s much too early to assess the pros and cons of each option. Instead we’ll have to draw our conclusions later on with Race Management, the organisations responsible for monitoring the ice and the crews themselves.Barcelona World Race

A gesture for the planet 

In accordance with the guidelines of the programme led by UNESCO, the competitors in the Barcelona World Race launched their beacons in the middle of the South Atlantic between 23 and 25 January, in a zone away from the main shipping lanes. 

These beacons, which have a theoretical lifespan of five years, will send back precious information in 12-day cycles about the temperature and salinity of the water at different depths (1,000 and 2,000m). Carried along by the oceanic currents, they should gradually circumnavigate the globe via the Southern Ocean. Beyond the scientific appeal of the operation, it should be noted how enthusiastically the skippers have got involved in its success. 

With participation from schools and messages of support sent to the general public, everyone has really played a part, thus demonstrating their commitment to protecting the oceans. Such enthusiasm certainly augurs well for the next races in the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship. It is worth noting that the beacons’ positions are available on the Barcelona World Race cartography, which is a way of collecting the daily data gathered thanks to the participation of our duos in this round the world race

by Marion Cardon

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