For the pairs of co-skippers the Barcelona World Race itself may only span some 90-odd days at sea but behind the scenes in the Catalan capital the planning and preparation which goes in to ensuring the race is safe, it is fair, it is commercially viable and it is followed all around the globe, continues year round, almost seamlessly from one edition to the next.
One change which is being promoted in agreement with the skippers for this edition of the Barcelona World Race is that the series of ice gates which were a feature of the last race, and for example of the Vendee Globe, have been replaced by an exclusion zone which ringfences the Antarctic ice zones. In essence 72 points - one each 5 degrees of longitude - form a polygon inside which the Barcelona World Race skippers must not pass.
The fastest route around the world this evening appears to be along the very edge of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone. Neutrogena gybed at around 1500hrs this afternoon as they approached the northernmost limit of the AEZ at 44°S, and have gybed back once more this evening after making just 40 miles in a northerly direction.
The Ice Exclusion Zone is becoming a significant factor. The most favorable conditions entering the Indian Ocea are within a narrow lane between the Ice Exclusion Boundary to the south and a zone of high pressure moving along 38-39S just to the north.
The routing east is pretty clear for most of the fleet. Basically, staying within a couple degrees of the Ice Exclusion Zone is the optimum strategy. However, there may be an interesting situation for We Are Water coming in a few days, as a low pressure is expected to deepen off the southeast coast of South Africa. A deviation north may be necessary for them to deal with this low.
At the front of the fleet, attention is focused on two tropical systems moving south out of the central Indian Ocean. These are forecast to move south toward the ice exclusion zone over the next few days, and may bring some extreme conditions as the leaders approach them from the west. En la cabeza de la flota, la atención se centra en los dos sistemas tropicales que se desplazan hacia el sur desde el Índico central. Se prevé que se muevan hacia la zona de exclusión durante los próximos días, y podrían causar condiciones muy duras al aproximarse a los líderes por el oeste.
The race fleet continues to play in the stronger breezes that are present along the edge of the Ice Exclusion Zone. A low pressure will cause some upwind work for One Planet, One Ocean and Spirit of Hungary. This will cost them miles against the rest of the fleet which will continue to enjoy a faster mix of reaching and running breezes.
Within the next couple days, the leaders will sail south of Australia, where the Ice Exclusion Zone shifts south. This increase in available ocean space will likely be quite welcome since high pressure is expected to develop over the Australian Bight, restricting the westerlies to higher latitudes, but within range given the new ice limits. Meanwhile, at the back of the fleet, Spirit of Hungary is likely to experience an extended period of heavy weather upwind sailing in very rough seas. The same weather system bringing this, may also catch up to One Plant, One Ocean in the next day or so.
As they sail the long dive south east which will take them down to around 51 degrees South, Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam are opening distance again on second placed Neutrogena. Since 0300hrs this morning the Swiss-French pair had regained a further 30 miles to their lead ahead of Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz, mainly as the dividend for being able to makes the slant SE before their rivals who are still held north by the Antarctic Exclusion Zone.