The first four boats are now "officially" in the South as the Barcelona World Race enters a new phase with stronger winds, darker skies and the promise of rougher seas.
This morning the four leading boats, from first to fourth, PRB
, Paprec Virbac 2
, Veolia Environnement
and Hugo Boss
, are all below 40 degrees South. At the 08:00 UTC poll Vincent RIOU (FRA) and Seb JOSSE (FRA) onboard PRB
still held the lead, 30 miles ahead of Paprec Virbac 2
. RIOU said this morning that they had been catching better winds for the past two hours, and PRB
is sailing in a freezing fog. In fourth place Hugo Boss
is the fastest boat in the fleet, recording 19.1 knots this morning and closing the gap to the leaders.
Now that the bulk of the fleet is heading straight towards the first ice gate (just over 1,000 miles in front of PRB
's bow), the pursuers are in a better position since the St Helena high moved, allowing them to "take a shortcut" to the east, gaining precious miles in the process.
It was interesting to see the contrast between the conditions experienced by Veolia Environnement
and Temenos II
during Wednesday's video conference. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) was helming bare chested at 39 degrees of south latitude, while some 330 miles behind and 5 degrees further north, Dominique WAVRE (SUI) and Michele PARET (FRA) were all geared up, riding a cold front generating 30 knot + winds!
"We're heading straight towards the first ice gate",
said WAVRE. PARET commented, "It's good to finally get some stronger winds and to see the speed go up (...) The weather is very cloudy, and the boat is now prepared for the southern latitudes, all the safety gear has been taken out and checked."
The front in which Temenos II
is sailing should extend, and Hugo Boss
as well as Delta Dore
may well experience 30-knot winds too.
On board Delta Dore
, in fifth place, Jérémie BEYOU (FRA) sounded very happy with the pace himself and Sidney GAVIGNET (FRA) are able to maintain - the French crew has been very fast during Wednesday, consistently displaying speeds of 17 knots or more. "For once, we're in a better position than the leading boats and Delta Dore is doing great."
In third place, chased by a fast and determined Hugo Boss, Veolia Environnement reported experiencing conditions "similar to those that the leaders have" (in terms of wind speed and direction, not temperature!), said an ever-cheerful Jean-Luc NÉLIAS (FRA), sailing close to the Santa Helena high pressure system. "The weather is almost too fine", added JOURDAIN's co-skipper. The French duet seemed on the right track to reduce the gap separating them from Paprec-Virbac 2, and the leading trio may well catch the same weather system after passing through the first ice gate...
The leading boats are expected to reach the ice gate on Friday morning.
Barcelona World Race - http://www.barcelonaworldrace.org