Seven days after setting out from New York City, the two IMOCA Open 60s Estrella Damm and W Hotels are separated by just under 17 miles as they continue on their way to Barcelona, Spain. The two boats have covered just over 2,000 miles and have about 1,700 miles to go. Each is vying to set benchmark time for other boats to beat in the coming years between the two cities.
Currently, W Hotels is working to reel in Estrella Dam, and the three-man crew of hopes that once in the lighter airs of the Mediterranean, it will be able to pull ahead. Thus far, it appears Estrella Damm has a slight edge in heavier conditions, and it has been all W Hotels can do to stay within striking range.
Meantime both crews are facing the prospect of two or three days of rougher conditions, with winds forecast to reach 40 knots, thanks to a low off the coast of Portugal. The boats are expected to reach the Straits of Gibraltar by Monday.
“We don’t have anything really prepared for the weather that is coming. We will just deal with it as it comes and try to keep the boat going at the optimum angle,” said Estrella Damm crewmember Pepe Ribes. “We are sailing at 95 degrees and are just trying to go as fast as possible across the low.
According to Ribes, the boat is currently making about 18 knots with 20 knots of wind out of the north-northeast and seas about nine feet.
“We have been sailing with the Solent and one reef,” said W Hotels crewmember Pachi Rivero. “The waves are not too big yet, but our main focus is just concentrating on staying with Estrella Damm so that we can be in a position to win. They are perhaps a little quicker in these stronger conditions, but there is not much in it. We are only 20 miles behind, so we are going to cross the low and when we get to Mediterranean we could be able to pass them when there is maybe less wind. “
For more on the race, including on-board videos, click here. Click below to watch the boats during an inshore regatta.