In the Barcelona World Race Virbac-Paprec 3 leads, while second and third placed Mapfre and Estrella Damm are now enduring their most challenging sea conditions during their final miles in the Indian Ocean, at the back of the fleet, almost 90 degrees of longitude behind, We Are Water’s Cali Sanmarti and Jaume Mumbru were facing up to a long spell with very light breezes and very slow speeds.
Contacted by their shore team this morning, the Olympic medals winning duo Iker Fernandez and Xabi Martinez, spoke of ‘waves like mountains’. Pepe Ribes from third placed Estrella Damm, a veteran of three Volvo Ocean Races told his team ashore:
“We have had spectacular weather. The wind has dropped a bit now but the waves are huge and every one we have watch. Inside the boat you can only be in the bunk, and when you are outside you have to take great care, and really take care of the boat because it makes huge jumps.”
Reported Ribes: “It happened quickly. The boat is fine. We are exhausted. The waves were monsters. We cannot put up more sail yet”
Martinez and Fernandez said they sailed through the morning with no headsails to try and look after the boat and themselves, but the duo were still quickest through the morning whilst Estrella Damm.
The wind was expected to ease for the second and third placed duo, 444 miles behind and 570 miles respectively behind long time race leader Virbac-Paprec 3, but in fact the sea state was out of proportion to the wind, both teams reporting back in 20-25 knots of wind, but Ribes’ report detailed gusts of up to 50 knots.
The contrast with the back of the Barcelona World Race fleet could not be more stark. Cali Sanmarti and Jaume Mumbru remain resolute and focused on their ten year old We Are Water, which stared its life as Bernard Stamm’s first IMOCA Open 60.
The Barcelona duo had around 10 knots of wind when they spoke with this morning’s Visio-Conference live with Barcelona. But the We Are Water duo, along with FMC and Central Lechera Asturiana have an expanding, east moving high pressure which will make life slow for them for the next 48 hours at least. We Are Water made less than 29 miles in the five hours to 1400hrs this afternoon. We Are Water’s Jaume Mumbrú noted that they will almost inevitably be slower having lost their second gennaker overboard since the start of the race during their first big storm a few days ago:
“Some days ago we lost the big gennaker, so along with the big spinnaker, we lost the two medium sails. The pilot gybed the boat and the water pulled out two stanchions and the gennaker blew. Now we lack the appropriate sails for medium winds. “said Mumbrú
“I only hope the weather forecasts are wrong.” Smiled FMC’s Gerard Marín from a grey south Indian Ocean day this morning, north west of the Kerguelens.
Several days ago Girona’s Marín, 27, confirmed that he had six books with him, including texts on Meteorology, Chemistry and Astronomy.
From an inky black night, now into the Pacific Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac-Paprec 3 reported that it was not the wind strength which was causing them the most stress, but the very gusty unsettled pressure which was making it difficult to set an optimum sail area.
“It is a bit distressing with all these gusts around. The boat rattles and shakes. At night you can see nothing by the glow from inside and the lights of the instruments. When a 35 knots gust hits it is a worry and all you are concentrating on is trying not to break anything. That is the key thing. So it is hard not to set too much sail for the squalls, or too little for the quieter spells. And so that can be a little bit frustrating because it feels like you are always searching for the right balance.”
Barcelona World Race Quotes:
Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) Virbac-Paprec 3: “ I have not really discussed our lead with Loïck but our view is to just stay on guard and to make the boat go as well as we can but to hold some safety margin. We are a bit more careful now for sure, taking fewer risks than when we were in the fight with Foncia. And MAPFRE behind are certainly quick, the sailing champions and they show that every day, so we are absolutely in race mode.”
Wouter Verbraak (NED) Hugo Boss:“ We are well in phase with the front, we should be able to hang to this front until at least the second Australian Barrier, after that I think things look a little more uncertain.”
Jaume Mumbrú (ESP) We Are Water: “Right now we are going at about 5 to 7 knots, we are trapped by the high that attacks from behind. We try to find a way out. We made a choice to the north, we have less wind but we have the gate to deal with. ”
“Some days ago we lost the big gennaker, so along with the big spinnaker, we lost the two medium sails. The pilot gybed the boat and the water pulled out two stanchions and the gennaker blew. Now we lack the right sails for medium winds. ”
“These lows in the Great South require a lot of respect, I am not used to winds of 40 to 50 knots. I think we had a good preparation perhaps we should have done more sail changes, but we go step by step, learning a lot. This is our battle, we had always reaching or upwind conditions, and the sea coming from the front. No downwind sailing. It’s a little frustrating to go through storms and then be becalmed ”
“Now we’re here you do not understand how smalerl boats navigate in these latitudes. Seeing the temperature of the water, the sea, the wind … it’s amazing to think that there are people who dare to sail around here with small boats. With an IMOCA you feel secure because it is a big boat and it goes fast.. We feel safe on board. ”
“We must anticipate a lot, if not the problems can be tremendous. This is as big as we expected. The force of nature has had a lot of impact on me.”
“The problem here is the sea and the waves, especially those that break in different directions. You need speed and the sea can cause problems. The wind is manageable by reducing sail. ”
“Now we are more confident in tackling the storms, we know that we can pass them. The only thing we want is to get out of these calms and take the downwind allures that we still have not seen.”
Barcelona World Race Rankings
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC at 12575,7 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE at 444 miles to leader
3 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 520 miles
4 GROUPE BEL at 812,2 miles
5 RENAULT Z.E at 1319,1 miles
6 MIRABAUD at 1716 miles
7 NEUTROGENA at 1773,7 miles
8 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 2115,4 miles
9 HUGO BOSS at 2171,6 miles
10 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 3402,6 miles
11 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 3702,3 miles
12 WE ARE WATER at 3767,2 miles