As strong winds continue for the race leader Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam expecting another spell of 35-40kts winds tonight, so almost all of the fleet are profiting from strong westerlies. From Cheminées Poujoulat which is approaching the mid-point of the Pacific to Spirit of Hungary at 200 miles to Cape Leeuwin, the Big South is delivering the kind of conditions everyone expects and profits from. The one exception is We Are Water which is in a little, trapped cell of high pressure and so having just 10-15kts winds.
Who knows if the second placed crew in the Barcelona World Race, Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz have recently used the official scheduled reports to pinpoint the position of their nearest rivals GAES Centros Auditivos, but with the two IMOCA Open 60s seeming to be on converging courses in the South Pacific, just 16 miles apart this afternoon, there seems to be a good possibility they might even look out and see each other. At least on their respective AIS identifying and positioning systems.
Renault Captur has re-entered the race in a favorable pattern with a moderate N’ly wind and flat seas, allowing it to get quickly south into the roaring 40s/50s and back into the fight. Race leader Cheminees Poujoulat is making good progress toward Cape Horn in relatively moderate winds and seas, but conditions are expected to get a bit more robust in the coming day or two.
By comparison with Cape Horn's reputation for storms and big seas, Cheminées Poujoulat's Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam, leaders of the Barecelona World Race look set to be granted a relatively straightforward passage later today. This morning the duo have been making 15-16kts of boat speed towards Cape Horn which is still 256 miles away for them at 0500hrs UTC. They are sailing in 20-25kts of SW'ly wind which is going to veer W, presenting them with great conditions to go north, subsequently routing though the Le Maire Strait - the 18 miles wide stretch which separates Staten Island (Isla de los Estados) from the E extremity of the Argentine bit of Tierra del Fuego. They will also go west of the Falkland Islands. Their ETA at Cape Horn is around 21hrs UTC this evening
Above all Cape Horn is a time for extra care and caution. While observers and race fans may be poised to share and enjoy the passage of the Barcelona World Race leaders Cheminées Poujoulat this Tuesday evening, Swiss co-skipper Bernard Stamm was clear that there will be little time for celebration or reflection as they start their release from the Pacific.
The deliverance from the Pacific will have been notable for Cheminées Poujoulat. After passing Cape Horn at 0100hrs this Thursday morning in 20-25kts of WSW'ly winds, passing 14 miles south of the rock, Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam have accelerated into much flatter waters. Now they enjoy the twin benefits of the wind veered more to the west and the protection of Tierra del Fuego which has reduced the swell completely. And so as the Barcelona World Race leaders make towards the Straits de Lemaire which they should pass around 0900hrs UTC they are making 18kts in smooth seas. Today should feel like a good day, as they sprint north, set to pass west of the Falklands tonight.
With Cheminées Poujoulat making good progress up the Atlantic, making close to 18kts, 120 miles SW of the Falklands, Cape Horn marks the frontier between the two different worlds inhabited by skippers on the Barcelona World Race.
In the leading eastern fleet, gains are expected to continue for Cheminees Poujoulat as a strong SWíly flow from Cape Horn to north to 40S gives them good downwind running conditions for the nest day or two. Neutrogena and GAES Centros Auditivos are making good progress toward The Horn on a building W to NW flow. The western fleet have been in tricky conditions negotiating complex low pressure which has moved south out of the sub-tropics. Some moderate to fresh upwind conditions and short, rough seas slowed progress late yesterday. However as the low moves south of them today/tonight, their eastward pace will quicken.
Cape Horn beckons for second and third placed Neutrogena and GAES Centros Auditivos. While the two IMOCA 60s are expected to pass at speed with around six hours of separation, in what might be considered favourable conditions for one of the most inhospitable and complicated corners of the Barcelona World Race, amidst the long hours of stress and fatigue, there will surely still be moments for the crews to reflect, individually and together.