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‘Softly Softly’ at Barcelona World Race

The Barcelona World Race is off to a gentle start, but is perhaps no less demanding on the skippers than a gale would have been. The weather situation is complex and difficult to decipher with light, fluky winds making the early part of this race a potential minefield.

The entire fleet of nine IMOCA 60s came through its first 24 hours at sea in good condition, with each team reporting in to say they had experienced no major difficulties. When the boats are as complex and cutting-edge as these, that’s no mean feat.

Sailing in light conditions since the start has meant the top three boats are within three miles of each other (on the 16:00 GMT poll). The fleet split around the island of Ibiza, with the leaders sailing to the east of the famed island, while Veolia Environnement, Mutua Madrilena and Delta Dore staying closer to the Spanish mainland. This has put them nearly 20 miles behind the top boat.

Ensconced in the top group of three, Estrella Damm co-skipper Jonathan McKee says he doesn’t feel particularly smart in making that decision regarding Ibiza but he’ s happy with how it turned out:

“It was a hard decision and it wasn’t one made with a lot of confidence…I think all of the other boats would tell you the same thing. For some reason, the weather models are having a difficult time dealing with the conditions right now,” he said. At the time, Estrella Damm was sailing in close company with Paprec-Virbac 2 and PRB, making about 6 knots of speed in 6 knots of wind.

Jean-Pierre Dick, the skipper of Paprec-Virbac 2, the race leader on the 16:00 poll, says he doesn’t expect the situation to improve anytime soon:

“For tonight it is going to be very tough to choose our route. The forecast is for it to get light e r again, and we know that a small distance can end up making a very big difference so we really have to concentrate tonight.”

Each of the skippers spoke of their satisfaction with finally being at sea after the long preparation period for the race. Vincent Riou, whose PRB raced through the spectator fleet at the start, said despite some close encounters with the hundreds of boats crowding the starting line, he was thrilled to see so much support for the race.

And Servanne Escoffier, who with skipper Albert Bargues is mired at the back of the fleet after running into calms at the Sitges buoy last night, was nonetheless effusive about being off the dock and getting into the race.

“It was very emotional saying goodbye to friends and family, but now that we’re on the water, we’re getting into our system and its very good out here,” she said.

16:00 GMT Positions with distance to go

1 PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 – 24428.6
2 ESTRELLA DAMM – 24430.5 < br>3 PRB – 24431.2
4 HUGO BOSS – 24440.0
5 TEMENOS 2 – 24443.2
7 DELTA DORE – 24446.6

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 12th, 2007 at 1:27 pm and is filed under Hunter Sailboats, Main Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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