Thursday, 7 February 2008

Hugo Boss heads for home.

Position: Second
Average speed: 10.6 knots

For the first time in over a week, the wind direction is allowing us to point almost directly at Gibraltar, Spain. With any luck, the current stretch of weather should get us close to the Straits of Gibraltar and our entry to the Mediterranean. Over the past 36 hours we left the trade winds and sailed into the high pressure, which has, fortunately for us, split and given us a route through to what will become south-westerly winds. These south-westerlies are associated with a weather system which is currently beating the shores of the UK. I can tell you, it feels good to be in the same weather system as the UK albeit slightly warmer! The routing is showing that we could be finished in around a week and I am starting to get excited about the prospect of returning to life as a real human being! For now we are in fairly light winds which are expected to build and build, allowing us to make excellent progress towards the finish. The leader, Paprec Virbac, who is going fast at the moment should slow as she approaches Gibraltar. This may allow us to close the gap a little, the routing is showing that we could get to within 300 nautical miles. Unfortunately, I reckon this will be too little too late and the routing is often optimistic. As we both get closer to the Straits of Gibraltar we are likely to see strong upwind conditions, which may intensify as the wind funnels down that very small gap between the Europe and Africa. However, that is nearly a week away so this all could be fiction, but normally the wind is either blowing or it is not! Capey and I are still eating well, although we are down to our least favourite foods, however we are by no means rationing like the guys ahead. We took food for 90 days and originally over-provisioned, plus we also took on food in Wellington, so we could easily go for another month without too much trouble. Both of us have lost weight but that is down to the low fat diet and hard daily grind rather than lack of grub. HUGO BOSS is holding up well and the repaired rudder is still working. We have lifted the starboard rudder as the pins holding it down are wearing very quickly and we were concerned as to whether they were going to last. We should be able to have it up for another three days before it is needed again, so it should get us home fine.

The latest race update is looking really exciting..Making up 200 miles in 24 hours means we could be in for a thrilling finish to this epic yacht race.

Hugo Boss continues to steam along: overnight the black boat was incredibly quick and covered 363 miles in 24 hours averaging a minimum of between 15-20 knots. Currently seven knots faster than the Franco-Irish pair ahead, Alex and Capey have closed the gap down to 450 miles at the 0600 GMT position report– that is 200 miles they have made up in 24 hours! Now only 236 miles from Gibraltar, Jean Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall are edging closer to their target yet are having to battle upwind in lighter northerly winds, and the situation doesn’t look like it is going to ease. Paprec Virbac 2 put in three tacks yesterday and is progressing slowly along the coast of Portugal, currently just south of Cape St Vincente. Although Irish skipper Damian was confident with their lead, they are going to need all their energy and optimism to withstand what must be a particularly frustrating situation to find themselves in so close to the finish, with stronger winds still predicted for the Straits.

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