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Chi tra i battistrada della Barcelona World Race ha tratto maggiore vantaggio dall'attraversamento dei Doldrums? A conti fatti Mapfre. Iker Martinez e Xavier Fernandez,... Barcelona World Race, ancora testa a testa

Video courtesy Barcelona World Race.

Oceano Atlantico – Chi tra i battistrada della Barcelona World Race ha tratto maggiore vantaggio dall’attraversamento dei Doldrums? A conti fatti Mapfre. Iker Martinez e Xavier Fernandez, infatti, hanno ridotto lo svantaggio rispetto a Virbac Paprec 3 che mentre si appresta a raggiungereo la latitudine di Capo Verde vanta ancora 200 miglia di margine sull’unico inseguitore in grado di impensierirlo.

L’efficacia della strategia seguita durante il passaggio delle calme quatoriali ha dato nuovo vigore all’azione di Martinez-Fernandez, oggi più che mai consapevoli di dover mantenere alta la concentrazione per poter sfruttare ogni eventuale passo falso del battistrada. Già nelle prossime ore Jean Pierre Dick e Loick Peyron si troveranno alle prese con un’alta pressione particolarmete marcata, posizionata al largo delle Azzorre. Il dubbio per il duo francese sarà quando e dove manovrare per spingersi verso il continente africano. Per gli spagnoli, invece, il problema principale è la limitata riserva di gasolio: a bordo di Mapfre ci si consola ricordando che “…la fame fa prendere decisioni intelligenti”.

Intanto, qualche centinaio di miglia più indietro, gli inseguitori si preparano ad affrontare le calme equatoriali e le alte temperature che si respirano a latitudine zero. Renault Z.E., in terza posizione sin dal passaggio dello Stretto di Cook, ha guadagnato un po’ di terreno su Estrella Damm, salito in quarta posizione ai danni di Neutrogena. Dietro loro, solitario in sesta posizione, GAES Centros Auditivos viaggia veloce verso nord, ma le oltre 700 miglia di ritardo rispetto a Neutrogena appaiono difficili da colmare.

Un’occhiata alla parte bassa della classifica permette di notare che c’è ancora chi deve raggiungere Capo Horn. E’ il caso di We Are Water che, spinto dai forti venti tipici del Pacifico del sud, ha da poco passato l’ultimo ice gate.

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[Barcelona World Race Press Release] Mid-fleet skippers swelter in their approach to the Doldrums, while hunger adds an extra urgency to Mapfre’s chase. Meanwhile Forum Maritim Catala gain on Hugo Boss’s Falklands position, setting up an all-new South Atlantic showdown.

The Spring Equinox has sent the Equatorial sun high into the sky, beating directly down on those Barcelona World Race skippers sailing through the low latitudes: temperatures are running high across the fleet in the Atlantic Ocean.

“I think yesterday it was 30 degrees and yesterday night it was 25 so we’re going to have the same problem. You really feel it when you’re putting up and taking down sails because conditions are changing all the time,”explained Ryan Breymaier on Neutrogena.

The Neutrogena duo of Breymaier and Boris Herrmann are not just feeling the heat physically, but after 80 days of racing – many of them no more than 50 miles away from their nearest rival during a virtual match race first with Mirabaud, and now with Estrella Damm – they have the mental pressure of still being just 20 miles behind Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes. This afternoon both boats are averaging less than 4.5 knots, making progress sticky in every sense.

“I don’t think it bothers us to have someone close. It’s good, it gives us something to mark ourselves against. We actually saw them for a little while yesterday off in the distance which was pretty cool, first time we’d seen another boat in the race since Mirabaud back in the Indian Ocean one time. All we can do is hope the conditions are good for all of us, it’s certainly not very easy for us to keep up, that’s for sure,”explained Breymaier.

At the front of the fleet Mapfre are also working hard to maintain pressure on race leaders Virbac-Paprec 3, whose slow but steady gains now put them 192 miles ahead. Iker Martinez explained today how they were pleased with their Doldrums crossing, and now needed to wait patiently for any opportunities. One such opportunity may come in the form of a high pressure system set to form off the Azores which could raise tactical questions for the lead duo of whether, and when, to make a break for the African shore. For Martinez and Xabi Fernandez the race home cannot come quickly enough: the pair admitted that they are running low on both fuel and diesel, but took solace in a Spanish proverb that hunger is said to make you make cleverer decisions!

The next boat to meet the high pressure zone of the Doldrums will be Renault Z.E., still holding pace with the leaders and pulling away from Estrella Damm and Neutrogena. Behind these two, GAES Centros Auditivos are also steadily gaining on the boats in front, and hold firm to their position as the fastest in fleet, the only pair to clock over 300 miles in the past 24 hours. With solid reaching conditions, the all-female duo can expect their purple patch to continue:

“Knowing that we’re going to close that gap a little bit is really nice. We’re very lucky with the forecast we’ve got, and of course everyone else is going into transition zones or Doldrums or light airs, so it’s really nice to have the bonus while everyone else is suffering because it shows up a little more, so we’re pretty happy,”reported Dee Caffari today.

Hugo Boss have not yet returned to the racecourse, allowing Forum Martim Catala to line themselves up for a promising-looking battle up the Atlantic with the black IMOCA 60. The Spanish boat is less than 120 miles from Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak this afternoon, giving added urgency to their repair schedule.

Meanwhile We Are Water continue to enjoy rapid surfing conditions on their approach to Cape Horn, having today entered the final ice safety gate as they surge along at over 15 knots.

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