On the final strait towards the start of the Barcelona World Race the teams are ticking off different phases of preparation. One of these is an essential part of promoting the team: the photo shoot with the skippers aboard their yachts, the incredible IMOCA 60s. The Neutrogena team have added a splash of creativity with portraits of Guillermo Altadill and José Muñoz emulating the “keel walk” made famous by Alex Thomson.
He is back. Fourth in the last Barcelona World Race where he sailed with Alex Pella on the Farr designed Estrella Damm, Pepe Ribes reveals that almost as soon as he finished the last race he had the hunger to do it again, but this time better, faster and more efficient. With a programme which has the potential to win the dual handed race around the world.
Stewart Hosford runs one of the biggest and most prominent IMOCA race teams through the 5 Degrees West company, which in this instance look after Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss and Neutrogena, the Farr design which took third in the Vendée Globe in the hands of Alex Thomson. Hosford joined Alex Thomson just before their slightly turbulent start to the last Barcelona World Race. As well as expanding and optimising their commercial interests, he was instrumental in the changes which massively improved reliability, ensuring that Alex brought an older, but well proven IMOCA 60 on to the Vendée Globe podium, thereby producing a much needed race result just on time. Hugo Boss have committed to Alex for the foreseeable future, ensuring that he now has a new Hugo Boss – a VPLP-Verdier design – in build.
Maybe it will be with the family at home, the table laden with food, all enjoying the usual laughter and gifts. Some will spend Christmas at home and try to relax and make it as ‘normal’ as possible, others will spend it in Barcelona close to the boat and the programme but having family and friends travelling to see them. Others may even only take a few hours off. For sure Christmas is upon the 16 skipper of the Barcelona World Race, but the way they enjoy it or deal with it will be different from team to team, and skipper to skipper. But for everyone the thoughts of the 31st December start, and what lies ahead for the coming three months, are impossible to suppress. Even on Christmas Day.
The leaders of the Barcelona World Race may have had to miss the New Year celebrations ashore but nevertheless they brought in 2015 as they might have chosen, reaching relatively quickly on the heels of a brisk NE’ly breeze which has carried them down the race course towards Straits of Gibraltar slightly quicker than was expected.
After yesterday’s light winds start, which tested the patience of the 16 skippers with a busy, if slightly slo-motion, send off from the waters off the iconic Hotel Vela (W-Hotel), there has been a steady building of wind strength, and a smooth acceleration of pace for the transition into offshore racing mode for the eight boats competing in the Barcelona World Race.