It’s just three days after Foncia looked to be walking away with the Barcelona World Race lead, and the lead has switched hands! Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron (Desjoyeaux has nicknamed them ‘the Smurfettes’ for their neon blue boat and foulies) on Paprec-Virbac 3 ground down their French competition to move into the lead by 20 miles or so after setting a new Open 60 record for miles covered in 24 hours. Dick/Peyron must have nerves of steel, as their reports from aboard were still full of humour even as they averaged nearly 22 knots for over a day on the way to the first mark of the course at Gough Island. Meanwhile, Foncia has turned their transmitter off and gone into ‘ghost mode’ for the next 24 hours, some Anarchists think it’s to hide a dive to the bigger breeze and shorter distance to the South.
The bigger news is that ice is now a bigger part of the race then predicted with a big field of ice at nearly 40 degrees North. As Pepe Ribes writes: “So the positions of the next gate have been moved a little north and a new one added in, and soon I guess you’ll change the position of the Kerguelen Gate too, which is now surrounded by ice. I think this race will be quite long, or at least longer than we thought."
The new course could add a week or more to the estimated length of the voyage, but at the speeds they’re going, there’s not much choice with literally hundeds of bergy bits and growlers now directly in the path of the race boats.
Intrigued by ice and the change in how much is now floating around? There’s a fascinating ABC Australia report going on right now from on board an ice research ship.