Charles Caudrelier, Dongfeng Race Team
After 9 days of racing and more than 3000 miles I start to hate the red , the boat of our spanish friends.
I heard that Xabi is an ex biking champion and as we say in france about biking, MAPFRE is sucking our wheel, following all our moves and waiting for an opportunity to attack. This leg since we are around the ice limit became a match racing, we probably gybe more than 30 times yesterday to stay along the ice limit to have more wind (a nightmare for the crew , gybing every hour during 30 hours means no sleep and gybing asks a lot of work on the boat, moving all weight from side to side).
More than 400KG inside the boat and 4 sails. 4 sails of 100 kg when they are dry but now full of water probably 50kg more each one. Gybing every hour means also you cant take of your weather gear to sleep and you feel more and more wet and after this session all the team was exhausted.
MAPFRE made a good come back, he was coming back with the wind and a very good speed. During 24 hours, we saw him slowly coming back and putting pressure on us. We have been working hard to find solution to match his speed.
During these hours we tested many solutions. That’s always a difficult situation , you don’t have the speed so you change a lot of things, modify all your habits and can become lost – and MAPFRE passed us.
And then we came back to our TRIM reference and the speed becomes better and with 2 good moves we repass him and now he is 6 miles behind us. Nothing when watching the next 6 days to reach the finish line and so many choices to make for the routing.
Even Vestas and Brunel can make a comeback. Some people asked me very often which one will be the toughest leg, I always answered that the forecast will decide, you can have an easy Southern Ocean leg and a terrible tropical one like could be the next two legs. But today I hope this one will be the toughest one.
Xabi Fernández, MAPFRE
What a battle we are having with our Chinese friends of Dongfeng! I should say is good fun but it is being quite hard to be honest.
As most of you would see we have done more than 30 gybes in around 24 hours – you can imagine not much sleep has been going on board. More than that, we had the ice limit to gybe on so we couldn’t do any mistakes on those gybes and enter the zone so it has been full on.
Right now we are in a drag race heading ENE, making a lot of nm towards Melbourne which feels good and we have Dongfeng ahead of us. They are gaining a bit, slowly but the mileage is going up and we are scratching our heads to keep the distance down and wait for our opportunity.
2300 nm to go and plenty of action so we keep with the morale high as we feel we are doing a very good leg.
We keep stretching in the boats behind so that is good too.
Priorities on board are to have as much rest as possible when off watch so we can be in better form for the action coming.
We will keep you updated.