Earlier today, the IMOCA 60 Estrella Damm was almost assured of victory as it closed in on the finish of its NY-BCN record passage, between New York and Barcelona, Spain.
Crewmembers Alex Pella, Pepe Ribes and Stan Schreyer are hoping to finish this afternoon with the help of a thermal breeze, which they were worried will drop with the sun this evening.
Currently, they have about 40 miles to go and are sailing at about 8 knots, having covered about 3,700 miles in 12 days. Their competitors aboard the nearly identical W Hotels are 70 miles behind and struggling to maintain boatspeed in near calm conditions.
W Hotels crew Too Piris, Pachi Rivero and Peter Becker fell behind out in the open Atlantic when their port rudder was damaged, and they had to slow down to effect repairs. Throughout the race, Estrella Damm has also shown itself to be the faster boat in heavier air.
“It is taking a lot of time to get finished. I hope that we can make it before the night, because if we don’t then there’ll be no wind,” said Pella, a Barcelona native. “Until Gibraltar it was fast. So we are happy with our overall time. The main difficulties we had [in the Atlantic] were making a good pace all the time and ensuring the boat stood up to it…. The difference right now is the Mediterranean. There is so very little wind that we have been struggling a lot. Nine days to Gibraltar is a good time.”
The two boats set sail on Thursday, April 8, to establish a record that organizers hope will attract other race boats in the future. Spain’s Fundaci Navegaci Ocenica Barcelona—which also runs the double-handed Barcelona World Race—the New York City Sports Commission, the Real Club Nutico de Barcelona and the New York Yacht Club are all involved in the effort.
For more on the record, click here.