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Leaders Dick & Peyrons rejoin the race

Virbac-Paprec 3 is back in front after 48-hour pit-stop

vendredi 18 février 2011Redaction SSS [Source RP]

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After two days on land, making key repairs to the rig and boat, Virbac-Paprec 3 is back on the racecourse and in pole position this afternoon. Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron (FRA) slipped their lines at exactly 1111hrs (CET) today, having completed the mandatory 48-hours on shore for their technical stopover. The Virbac-Paprec 3 team reported that by noon, the French duo had exited Wellington Bay under full sail and in this afternoon’s 1500hrs ranking were making 11 knots into the Pacific Ocean.

“We must win this race,”commented Jean-Pierre Dick this afternoon after the duo had been sailing for around an hour. “We will do everything to keep the race lead and continue the great run we started.”

Around 150 miles behind, MAPFRE were making solid 10-11 knot speeds in tricky unstable breezes off the coast of New Zealand. Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez (ESP) rounded Farewell Point at 1430 (CET) and are expected through the centre of Cook Strait tomorrow morning. Meanwhile Groupe Bel was around 150 miles from Farewell Point, with Estrella Damm about 22 miles behind. However, with unpredictable shifty conditions who will yet fare best during the final approach to Wellington is hard to determine.

As Pepe Ribes (ESP) emailed from Estrella Damm earlier today :

“The forecast is not the same as the conditions we are actually experiencing. With all this instability it’s difficult to predict when we will get to Cook. A few hours ago we were running, now we’re close-hauled, it’s now impossible to guess.”

And while Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron were able to enjoy a shower and two nights of solid rest in Wellington, for the boats who will be sailing straight through this coastal section of the Barcelona World Race Barcelona World Race #barcelonaworldrace also represents a tough 200 miles : “The Cook Strait is a lottery, with little wind and strong currents, i.e. a lot of work,” added Ribes.

Kito de Pavant(FRA), their nearest rival on Groupe Bel, echoed the sentiment, writing :

“It’s a little lottery. The jackpot will be for Virbac-Paprec 3 who will leave tonight with a boat that’s been given a thorough after-sales service on site. He has built a comfortable lead from the second boat, who is slowed by light winds. But others can also take some consolation prizes : Renault Z.E. should not be too unhappy about this, as well as Neutrogena and Mirabaud.”

Fifth-placed Renault Z.E. have gained 60 miles on Estrella Damm in the past 24 hours, while Neutrogena have pulled away by 45 miles from Mirabaud in the same period.

Of course, regardless of who is fastest to Wellington, Groupe Bel will be turning left into the Kiwi capital to repair sails. That will leave MAPFRE and Estrella Damm to contest the honour of being first Spanish team through Cook Strait : as yet no announcement from either on whether they will or will not be making a pit-stop with all the skippers keeping their tactics close to their chest. Who will show their hand first remains to be seen.

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Virbac-Paprec 3 :

“The good news is that we have left port on our next adventure ! We’re currently underway. The wind is very fluctuating because we are close to the coast and we have to get out from underneath it. We don’t expect there to be a lot of wind in the coming hours as we are under the influence of a high pressure zone. We’ll see what happens afterwards.

“Everything went well. We’re pleased with the work. The batten cars were quickly changed, they were only spare parts. There were other things like the bubble roof, parts of the rig and autopilot. But we leave in pretty good shape. We also have made the necessary checks but in the end we didn’t get too deeply into it, because our entire team was not there.

“We ate well and we rested a little. We cannot say it was a fun stopover as there were so many things to do and we stayed with our technical team. But we still slept in a proper bedroom, took a good shower and we set off again with some fresh food such as fruit.

“We must win this race. We will do everything to keep the race lead and continue the great run we started. We knew when we stopped that we had a good opportunity. We had nothing planned at all. We knew we had to stop to be seamanlike about this, because to continue sailing without spare parts wouldn’t be very intelligent.”

- Press info

Rankings at 1400hrs UTC Friday 18th February

  • 1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 11510 miles to finish
  • 2 MAPFRE at 127 miles to leader
  • 3 GROUPE BEL at 298 miles
  • 4 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 320 miles
  • 5 RENAULT Z.E at 583 miles
  • 6 NEUTROGENA at 885 miles
  • 6 MIRABAUD at 945 miles
  • 8 HUGO BOSS at 1216 miles
  • 9 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 1431 miles
  • 10 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 3029 miles
  • 11 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 3639 miles
  • 12 WE ARE WATER at 3965 miles

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