At the front of the Barcelona World Race the leaders appear to be escaping the clutches of the Santa Helena high pressure system and finally hooking in to the 'Southern train'.
With speeds of 19 knots registered by Paprec Virbac 2
and Hugo Boss
overnight, Jean Pierre DICK (FRA) and Damian FOXALL (IRL) maintain their second position only 32 miles behind PRB
- whilst the fastest 24 hour run once again was Hugo Boss with 390 miles. Veolia also seems to be doing their utmost to hang onto their third position and only lost three miles to the leaders, but could well be threatened now from behind.
All the boats are sailing in north northeasterly force five to six winds, with the majority doing 15 or 16 knots. Interestingly it is Delta Dore
that is the fastest in the fleet at present, and they will be feeling the pressure in fifth place, as Hugo Boss
takes another chunk out of Veolia
- now only 100 miles away from them.
hit some lighter air as they struggle to make up for their little sidetracking yesterday, a move which Estrella Damm could well make use of to come in closer.
"It's starting to feel like the South",
said Vincent RIOU (FRA) yesterday during the video conference, echoing what Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA) noted earlier in the morning.
"Going around the Saint Helena High has been slow, and to be honest we're quite impatient to encounter stronger winds",
said RIOU, still leading aboard PRB
. "We caught a small front generating northerlies, and are still sailing under spinnaker, but we'll be glad to make progress under reefed main and staysail",
According to the weather forecast, this was not predicted to happen before 24 to 48 hours, but RIOU and his co-skipper Sebastien JOSSE (FRA) are naturally anxious to catch the "Southern train" and escape as soon as possible! A configuration which is not likely to please the boats at the back of the fleet, notably Mutua Madrileña
(who lost some miles by temporarily heading west in search of more pressure yesterday) and Estrella Damm
, respectively 782 and 841 miles behind the leader at yesterday's 16:00 UTC poll.
Having encountered lighter winds on Monday evening, the two race leaders lost some miles to their pursuers during Tuesday - Veolia Environnement
closed to less than 180 miles behind PRB
, and Hugo Boss
, lying fourth, was credited with the best 24 hours run (390 miles). Nevertheless, the weather situation was still favouring the leaders, while some 250 miles behind them, things were not completely clear as Hugo Boss skipper Alex THOMSON (GBR) pointed out: "The models are in conflict, we have to wait and see how it evolves (...) For the moment it doesn't feel like the South yet, the waves are bit confused, it's not cold."
As Javier SANSO (ESP) commented, a slight compression of the fleet can be expected, but yet another stretch should follow quickly, and the overall situation is not likely to change dramatically in the next few days. In terms of tactics, the presence of the first Ice Gate will not modify the leaders' course as RIOU confirmed: "There is ice between 44 and 50 degrees South, so we would not have ventured further anyway".
They could reach that compulsory mark in three days...
Barcelona World Race - http://www.barcelonaworldrace.org