straits jacket

straits jacket

It’s no surprise that getting through the famous “Pillars of Hercules” has been as tough as a box of proverbial rocks for most of the Barcelona World Race fleet, and even now, a day and a half after Jean Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron on Paprec-Virbac slipped through Gibraltar, only four boats have followed suit.  Surprisingly to many (though not to those of us who saw, first-hand, how hard core their prep work was), first time RTW’er and USAnian Ryan Breymaier and Global Ocean Race vet Boris Hermann are in great company in fifth place, following some of the world’s most experienced shorthanded sailors ever out into a confused Atlantic Ocean where tradewinds may simply be a quaint notion of bygone years.  For a little fun, check out the player bar at the bottom of the BWR tracker screen and zoom in on the Straits starting on the 3rd around 18:00 UTC.  Then imagine what it’s like to be on those boats, going backwards, as your competition sails away toward South America.  Ouch!

But you want a real painful one?  How about the absolute douchebaggery of the jackbooted thugs of Moroccan Customs boarding Wavre and Paret’s Mirabaud mid-race to inspect the raceboat for who the fuck knows what?  Thankfully a frantic radio call from Wavre to Race Control got things rolling quickly enough that the idiot Moroccans’ superiors called them off the Open 60 before doing much beyond tearing open carefully shrink-wrapped food and supplies and trampling them underfoot.  Paret wrote: “I thought we were protected in our carbon cocoon, but unfortunately not.  They started emptying the food bags and the bags of spare parts.  They ripped open the vacuum packed packages and opened and threw the spare alternator on the floor, but the icing on the cake was when they found the bag of epoxy resin and silica powder (white powder for mixing with the resin for composite repairs).  It was impossible to explain things to them.  I could just picture myself pacing round and round a Moroccan jail cell rather than sailing round the world.” Hopefully the Spanish Navy escorts the last of the fleet through the end of the Med lest these Morocc-orons extort baksheesh from Hugo Boss as she trickles out into the big ocean…

Clean’s still got a day or two of catchup to do before he files his final story from the start of the BWR and uploads his interviews with all the stars of the show, but for now we recommend checking out this “Cocktail Hour” talk show he did with Ryan, 4th place skipper Pepe Ribes, IMOCA President Luc Talbourdet, and another ocean racer you might have heard of, and Mer’s already uploaded some truly unique photos from the dock and the start that we suggest you look at if you haven’t yet. You’ll also want to follow the thread for Born2Sail’s excellent weather routing analysis, and the kind of cooperative spectating experience that’s been missing from SA for a while (note: if all you see are filenames instead of thumbnail photos, register for the forums!).

English speakers can watch around two hours of video from the start with customarily crappy OTW camera work but very good commentating from SA’s On-The-Water Anarchy team and an awesome Clean interview with Michel Desjoyeux (sponsored by Karver and Magic Marine), while those in the U.S. on Comcast internet can listen to an hour’s worth of Mike Golding and Gary Jobson butchering the Spanish and French language at this link to the online-only ESPN3 website, but their voiceover has the same great stabilized multi-camera footage that the BWR shot for the live Euro network TV feeds, so it’s well worth watching if you turn the volume down.

And keep your eyes on this page for much more from the BWR, including live satellite chats with the skippers over the coming weeks, some great interviews with the skippers just before the race start, and Clean’s detailed analysis of the reasons behind the race’s success at the end of this week.

And finally, what do board Spaniards with fast motorboats do on their day off?  They chase down Open 60s drifting around the Bay of Altea, like this: