Racing

Barcelona World Race

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After four grueling days battling light winds and contrary currents in the Mediterranean, the entire 14-boat Barcelona World Race fleet is now out on the open Atlantic and headed south, with American Ryan Breymaier and his teammate, Boris Herrmann, aboard the Open 60 Neutrogena in sixth place.

The non-stop, doublehanded race began off Barcelona, Spain, on December 31. Competitors are expected to finish where they started in March, after rounding the three Great Capes—the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn.

Neutrogena is currently in seventh place about 300 miles behind current leaders Jean-Pierre Dick (who won the race in 2007-08) and Loick Peyron aboard Virba-Paprec 3. In second place, just 83 miles back, are Francois Gabart and French two-time Vende Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux aboard Foncia. However, on Sunday Foncia collided with an unidentified floating object, damaging the sacrificial "crash box" in the boat's bow, which will force them to put into Recife, Brazil, for repairs early next week.

The Spanish duo of Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes aboard Estrella Dam is in third. The entire fleet has been rocketing southward in strong tradewind conditions that have resulted in 400-plus-mile days for some competitors. However, the winds and waves proved too much for Jean Le Cam and Bruno Garcia aboard President, who were dismasted on Monday and are currently heading toward the Cape Verde islands under power. They will likely have to withdraw, because they lack another set of sails to replace the ones that were lost.

"How and why it happened, I've no idea," Le Cam reported. "It wasn't really as if we were digging into a wave. We just slammed into it. It had already happened 20 times before. As we hit the wave, we heard a cracking sound. It was all over in two seconds. You start to look up and it's already over. I've no idea what really happened. I was at the helm and Bruno at the nav desk on stand-by. The mast fell forwards. It just snapped. I can't really say any more than that. It must have broken in several pieces. After that there's always the same worry. You want to avoid damaging the hull. We had to get it all out of the way as quickly as possible. We cut the halyards and everything else away and got rid of it to make sure the boat was clear. Then we started up the engine immediately."

In addition to battling tricky weather in the Med, Dominique Wavre and Michele Paret aboard Mirabaud had to contend with a crew of Moroccan customs officials that stopped them for an inspection just 48 miles east of the Straits of Gibraltar. Wavre and Paret, who were in third place at the time, said they were detained for over an hour while their boat was searched, their supplies ripped apart and their cabin left in ruins.

“The icing on the cake was when they found the bag of epoxy resin and silica powder,” Wavre reported afterward. “It was impossible to explain things to them (that it was not illegal drugs). I could just picture myself pacing round and round a Moroccan jail cell rather than sailing round the world.”

The crew of Hugo Boss, one of the pre-race favorites, also received a nasty shock when the boat’s British crewmember Alex Thomson underwent an emergency appendectomy two days before the start. Race officials and the fleet of competitors both agreed to allow a substitute to help get the boat on its way until Thomson could be medically cleared to re-join the boat.

But on January 10, one day after receiving medical clearance, Thomson announced that he would further delay his return out of concern for his newborn son’s health. Baby Oscar, born on January 7th, has been diagnosed with coarctation--or narrowing--in part of the aorta.

This marks the second running of the 25,000-mile Barcelona World Race, the world’s only doublehanded, non-stop global ocean event. Nine Open 60s took part in the inaugural race in 2007-08, with only five boats making it to the finish.

Among the crews taking part this time around is the all-female team of British Vende Globe veteran Dee Caffari and Spain’s Anna Corbella aboard GAES Centros Auditivos.

For more on the race, including real-time race tracking, click here. http://www.barcelonaworldrace.org/en/

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