Daily Yacht Boat News
Ads Block Yacht Boat News
Barcelona World Race ~ Moments of truth

Barcelona World Race ~ Moments of truth

Off the North African coast, Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa must wish they quite literally had eyes in the back of their heads. Sailing just 90 miles off the busy port of Casablanca they have challenging coastal breezes to contend with, with the north-easterlies that have carried them towards Africa fading and shifting to the north, and their boat speed correspondingly dipping to just over 5 knots at the 1400hrs update.

Behind them, their long-time pursuers We Are Water have closed to 66 miles, shaving nearly 30 per cent off their advantage in just 24 hours. The Garcia brothers, still in the more established north-easterlies, were this afternoon making over 11 knots.
And ahead, Gelabert and Costa face a challenging crossing into the Straits of Gibraltar, with strong easterly Levante winds. The combination of headwinds and the tight navigational restrictions required to race through the Straits alongside the hundreds of commercial ships which use the passage between Africa and Europe every day ­will be quite challenging enough – let alone with an evenly matched team in close pursuit for the coveted fourth place position.
The fourth and fifth placed boats are expected to arrive in Barcelona on the evening of Wednesday, April 8. The deciding moment is likely to be found in the Mediterranean – current forecasts suggest One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton will be crossing the Straits early tomorrow afternoon, and We Are Water early on Monday.
Wildest dreams
Speaking in video conference earlier today, Aleix Gelabert confessed he would never have expected to be competing for defending a position at this point in regatta: “We had never raised the possibility of having a boat less than one hundred miles approaching the Strait of Gibraltar. We thought of many possibilities, but that is not one that occurred to us. The truth is that it is amazing to have a boat so close after so many miles.”
He explained the conditions they expect to face over the next 24 hours: “Our last miles to Gibraltar are going to be a little bit tricky, it is still a little bit difficult with the weather system that we have. We have light winds and very variable winds, so these last 24 hours will be very difficult. And then we will pass the Straits of Gibraltar probably with easterly winds, and probably with stronger winds, so it will be difficult, and it will be also difficult sailing into the Mediterranean in the beginning with the stronger winds of the east. But we are really close to Barcelona, to home and we are very excited to arrive.
“In the Mediterranean we will probably have to do a lot of manoeuvres, change sails, or gybe – a lot of things because we will have strong weather. But another thing is we are trying to rest as much as possible, although always we have to be careful about We Are Water and try to do our best to keep up the speed of the boat, but we will try to rest, to sleep as much as possible and then be in a better physical position to sail in the Mediterranean.”
Sixes and sevens
Meanwhile, Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane in sixth place on Renault Captur, who have spent several hours in some unstable winds due to an anticyclone, will now see their situation improve with the passage of a cold front that has re-established the trade winds to their normal pattern. They are expected to tack for a direct course to Gibraltar sooner than their predecessors. They are currently in 15-knot north-easterlies which are expected to veer to the left, with boat speed picking back up to double figures.
Spirit of Hungary has finally escaped from their prolonged and complex Doldrums crossing, and are beginning to pick up the North Atlantic trade winds, which will increase in strength as make progress towards the north. Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman have now broken the psychological 3,000-mile mark until the finish in Barcelona.
As food for thought, this time four years ago was when the winners of the 2010-111 Barcelona World Race, Virbac-Paprec 3 and the all-French duo of Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïc Peyron crossed the finish line to finish first after 93 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes and 36 seconds of racing. This year’s title holders, Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat have of course lowered that time by over nine days.
Skippers’ quotes:
Aleix Gelabert, One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton
“Our last miles to Gibraltar are going to be a little bit tricky, it is still a little bit difficult with the weather system that we have. We have light winds and very variable winds, so these last 24 hours will be very difficult. And then we will pass the Straits of Gibraltar probably with easterly winds, and probably with stronger winds, so it will be difficult, and it will be also difficult sailing into the Mediterranean in the beginning with the stronger winds of the east. But we are really close to Barcelona, to home and we are very excited to arrive.
“Having had We Are Water for so long so close to us is very difficult mentally because you need to push harder all the time, and also I think it’s good because if we didn’t have this boat we would probably have relaxed a little bit more, and we are pushing all the time and trying to arrive as fast as possible always. So I think having this boat here is a good thing for us because now we are sailing better and faster.
“In the Mediterranean we will probably have to do a lot of manoeuvres, change sails, or gybe – a lot of things because we will have strong weather. But another thing is we are trying to rest as much as possible, although always we have to be careful about We Are Water and try to do our best to keep up the speed of the boat, but we will try to rest, to sleep as much as possible and then be in a better physical position to sail in the Mediterranean.
“For us whatever the result is, to arrive in Barcelona is a victory. Of course we will prefer to arrive fourth, because now we think we can do it. If Anna, Gerard and Guillermo think that we are sailing good and we are doing a great race, for us that is an honour.”

About YachtBoatNews