The leading boat in the Barcelona World Race, Paprec-Virbac 2 is now less than 2,000 miles from the finishing line, which translates to about ten more days of racing.
With a 462-mile lead on Hugo Boss, the situation is comfortable for the race leader, but by no means assured as Damian FOXALL (IRL) explained today as stronger winds - up to 30 knots! - have seen their boat speed rise, as well as their stress level.
"I'm beating my brains out...or at least the boat is,"
FOXALL said today on the video conference. "We're sailing pretty fast, cracked off the wind, heading due north. Running the miles down, putting some north in now so that we can tack over towards Gibraltar tonight or tomorrow morning. It's nice to see the speedo up but it brings some stress as well. The boat is always on our minds, we're doing a lot of banging and crashing. It's a bit worrying every time you jump off a wave and land on the other side of it. [But] it's a great boat and there's no reason why we can't keep going like this."
Current weather routing software puts Paprec-Virbac 2 sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar on 8 February, making a finish on 11 February likely. That will be exactly three months since the start of the race on 11 November- and not a moment too soon for FOXALL.
"It's funny you should mention this is day 83,"
he said laughing this afternoon. "I think I'm beginning to know what it feels like to be 83 years old! But if we can hold on to the finish we'll have really achieved something great for ourselves and the team."
Hugo Boss remains around 460 miles behind the leader in second place. In contrast, the battle for third place is still very close with Temenos II and Mutua Madrileña racing north together as if attached by a string. The delta is just shy of 100 miles with both boats sailing near identical headings and speeds. And the fight here is more immediate than for the finish - as they race towards the scoring gate at Fernando, both are vying for the best time on this seventh stage of the race.
"It's still a hard fight with Temenos II, that's for sure,"
said Pachi RIVERO (ESP) from Mutua Madrileña. "It's been an intense night, with the wind shifting a lot. Tonight we'll be at the gate."
The fifth place boat, Educación sin Fronteras, has been slower over the past 24 hours, stuck in the middle of a low pressure system off the Brazilian coast. While their speed is getting better now, it hasn't been a pleasant 24 hours, with the boat "violently hitting the waves"
as a fatigued Servane ESCOFFIER (FRA) described today.
Barcelona World Race - www.barcelonaworldrace.org