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Cold, Wet, Windy and with Ice on the Horizon

The three leaders in the Barcelona World Race are pushing deep towards ‘iceberg country’. Veolia Environnement, in second place, awoke to find a couple of centimeters of snow on deck this morning. And race leader Paprec-Virbac 2 is already making course corrections to avoid the threat of icebergs.

“We lost some distance last night because we wanted to avoid the ice,” said Paprec-Virbac 2 skipper Jean-Pierre Dick this morning. “The temperature is very, very cold where we are. We took a wise decision in some extremes conditions. It is really cold, and damp inside and outside. It is painful on our hands when we are manoeuvring. To warm up, we are covering ourselves with more fleeces, hats and gloves. The thing is not to get wet otherwise it’s the end.”

All of the sailors have been speaking about how relentless the weather is – it’s cold, windy, with big waves and the pressure never lets up. Add to that pressure cooker the possibility of growlers – little icebergs – and the experience for the sailors really becomes intensely unpleasant.

But there is some consolation: “The degree of harshness, match e s the degree of beauty,” was the way a poetic Dominique Wavre described life on board Temenos II today.

In third place, Hugo Boss is the furthest south of the leading trio at nearly 54-degrees south. It’s a treacherous area, the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre has informed the race organisers – who have passed the information along to the fleet – that the ice limit is 52-degrees south near the Kerguelen Islands.

There is an ice gate that the leaders must pass at 53-degrees south, which has been placed by the race organisers to prevent the sailors from allowing their competitive instincts to drive them into danger by sailing too far to the south. The leaders are now about 350 miles from that gate.

For Hugo Boss, skipper Alex Thomson and co-skipper Andrew Cape have had their 24 hour record ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. The record now stands at 501.27 nautical miles.

Hugo Boss is also the stage four winner of the Barcelo n a World Race, making the passage from Fernando de Noronha to the gate south of the Cape of Good Hope in 10 Days, 15 Hours and 24 Minutes. That was nearly six hours faster than Veolia Environnement. While Mutua Madrileña and Educación sin Fronteras haven’t reached the gate yet, they cannot beat that time.

The four race stages of the race have now had four different winners, showing exactly how competitive this fleet is.

Sadly, it’s a fleet that no longer includes PRB, already at the dock in Cape Town and Delta Dore, who is making its way slowly towards South Africa. Meanwhile, Estrella Damm is due to arrive in Cape Town on Wednesday evening, where its shore team is on standby, ready to quickly make repairs to give skippers Guillermo Altadill and Jonathan McKee an opportunity to get back into the race.

Day 32 – December 12, 16:00 GMT – Position report with distance to leader

1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 – Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL – 0
2. VEO L IA ENVIRONNEMENT – Roland JOURDAIN / Jean Luc NELIAS – 122
3. HUGO BOSS – Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE – 206
4. TEMENOS 2 – Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 922
5. MUTUA MADRILENA – Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO – 1631
6. ESTRELLA DAMM – Guillermo ALTADILL / Jonathan MCKEE – 2043
7. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS – Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES – 2363

Abandoned – PRB – Vincent Riou / Sebastien JOSSE
Abandoned – DELTA DORE – Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007 at 12:45 pm and is filed under 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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