[Source: Barcelona World Race] With just three and a half months to go until the start of the Barcelona World Race, the countdown has begun for the teams taking part in the double-handed, non-stop, round the world challenge. Getting ‘back to school’ has been even more intense this year for the teams, after a summer that left little time for relaxing as the skippers followed their regatta preparation schedules both on shore and out on the water.
These summer months have seen the French-Swiss team Cheminées Poujoulat stick to their plan, focussing on making adjustments to the boat under the watchful supervision of skippers Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam and adapting the yacht to their requirements. The boat has undergone a refit in Brest (France). From September 19th, Cheminées Poujoulat will launch into an intensive schedule of training.
For Neutrogena, with Spain’s Guillermo Altadill and Chile’s José Muñoz, it has been a busy summer, as the Catalan skipper explains: “We’ve been doing a bit of everything; training, sailing and a boat refit and we’ve also taken some time off, although we’ve been racing on other boats. There are always more regattas during the summer, so I like to take part in as many as I can, on any type of boat and with different people. It gives you a lot of knowledge and experience”.
Altadill is happy with the boat preparation: “It’s ready. We have a new keel, a new bulb, new rigging and sails. The boat has been improved as far as possible for the team, so it’s ready. We could even load on the food and set off tomorrow!”.
The Spaniard said that the crew preparation was covering “all areas”, to boost skills and get to grips with the onboard systems. “Personally I’m very focussed right now on physical training and getting a better understanding of the meteorology”, he said.
The motivation displayed by Altadill comes as no surprise. Despite his immense ocean sailing experience, the Barcelona World Race is still unfinished business for the skipper: “I’ve taken part in many round the world regattas, but I have never finished a Barcelona World Race. I want to finish it and in a good position. I always forget about what I’ve done before and focus completely on the next competition, as if it were the most important race of my career”.
Hereon the team’s plans are clear: “We’re going to do our final test run of 2,000 miles, we’ll take the boat to Barcelona and we’ll wait for the start. Whilst we’re there we’ll meet with the sponsors, continue our physical and mental training and we’ll relax a bit”, explained the skipper from Barcelona.
One Planet One Ocean
For Aleix Gelabert and Dídac Costa there has been no time for a holiday. “For us every minute is worth its weight in gold”, said Gelabert.
The boat was put back on the water on the 25th of June after an extensive refit. “We spent the month of July doing short runs on the boat to get to grips with the onboard systems and to continue getting to know the boat. In August we did the qualifying run for the Barcelona World Race: 2,800 miles via the Canaries and Madeira. We had 15 days of intensive sailing, which was really useful for us to draw some conclusions”, explained Gelabert.
Costa also commented: “After three months of working on shore with the boat and doing physical training we’re now in the phase of notching up as many hours on the water as we can. The aim is to really get to see how the boat handles in different conditions and to maximise the dynamic between us”.
Gelabert said: “We’re really excited and happy to see how we are burning through the different stages leading to the start of this round the world regatta”.
The plan for the coming months is to “try out the new sails, fine-tune the boat’s polars, polish off some of our manoeuvres, square up the energy consumption and lots of other things”, said Costa. “And to sail as much as possible”, added Gelabert. “So, we’ve haven’t got time to hang around!”, said Costa.
There’s no doubt that the team’s schedule leaves no room for resting: “At the end of September we’ll sail to Sanxenxo in Galicia, where we’ll spend the entire month of October, sailing in ocean conditions, which are difficult to come across in the Mediterranean. That will be the last big test for us to really try out the boat and as a crew ahead of the Barcelona World Race”.
The team are also fine-tuning the instruments they’ll be carrying on board One Planet One Ocean as part of the collaboration between the FNOB and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission, that sees them taking part in various scientific projects during the regatta. “Right now the technicians are working on the data recording system (temperature, salinity and microplastics concentration) so that the levels are sent directly to land every team we link up via satellite, so that we can minimise the impact of the experiments on our sailing routine”, said Dídac Costa.
GAES Centros Auditivos
The GAES Centros Auditivos team with Anna Corbella and Gerard Marín did stop to enjoy some well-deserved holiday time, however. The IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race and all of the preparation in the run-up to the regatta “meant five very intense months” so the crew needed “a little break to enable us to take on the final stretch to the start of the Barcelona World Race with our batteries recharged”, said Corbella.
The boat itself has been undergoing the final refit ahead of the Barcelona World Race. “As well as carrying out improvements that we skippers felt were necessary after the New York to Barcelona Race”, says Marín. “The entire boat has been given a new coat of paint, the new keel has been put in and the boat and mast have been thoroughly checked to guarantee that they are ready for sailing round the world, among other jobs”.
“We’re heading into the final strait. The boat is almost ready and we’re following the scheduled plan on a number of fronts: physical preparation, meteorology and training sessions for different boat systems, such as the electronics and upperworks and electrics and hydraulics”, adds the Catalan sailor, who said that both skippers were “very happy with the potential and the performance of the boat and were very hopeful ahead of this latest challenge with GAES Centros Auditivos”.
With three and a half months to go to the start, the team is back in action to test out the changes to the boat carried out during the most recent refit, testing out new sails and fine-tuning polars, as well as training on the water and boosting their physical condition with training. At the end of September the crew will sail to Galicia (Spain) to take on the final test with the definitive boat configuration for the Barcelona World Race, trying out all of the onboard systems in ocean sailing conditions.
“We’ll return to Barcelona at the beginning of November. Thereon until the start we won’t be pushing the boat, so as not to take any unnecessary risks and we’ll focus on our own personal preparation”, the skippers said.
Hugo Boss has had a very busy summer indeed, including training on the water with Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes sailing together to Poland and Denmark. However, the British skipper did manage to take a couple of weeks off to enjoy some time with his family and to relax. Pepe Ribes also managed to spend time with his wife and son.
Right now the boat is in the shipyard, in refit mode. “When Hugo Boss gets back on the water I think the priority will be continuing to train together. We’ve planned the coming months in great detail and there’s always a lot to do, because each day brings new challenges and solutions”, explained the Spanish skipper.
“Are we ready for the Barcelona World Race?” Thomson asks himself. “We’re getting there. We’re training and doing what we need to do to compete successfully. So I don’t think we need to get nervous or stressed, because we’ve been preparing well. We’re really excited about the start”.
Alex Thomson doesn’t think there are any favourites: “There are lots of teams with the potential to win. The experience of Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam is enormous, Neutrogena has demonstrated it can go up against the latest generation yachts and GAES Centros Auditivos has been training really hard… The competition will be tough and I think Pepe and I are in a good position and we’ve got a good boat, so we’ll see. I’m really looking forward to it!”.
Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane
The team with Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane suffered a setback when the German publishers Mare abandoned their project in April this year. The pair have spent the past few months on the lookout for a new boat for the Barcelona World Race, as the yacht they had been set to race on went to Bernard Stamm.
The German French duo will soon be ready with news of their new boat and sponsor.
Zbigniew Gutkowski and Maciej Marczewski (pre-registered)
The team with Zbigniew “Gutek” Gutkowski and Maciej “Magic” Marczewski have recently pre-registered for the Barcelona World Race. The two Polish skippers are set to complete their registration in the coming weeks, when they will also announce the name of their sponsor and the name of their boat, POL 53, the yacht Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape sailed to second place in the Barcelona World Race 2007/08.
Gutek and Magic have already tested out their boat, sailing almost daily for the past four months to test out and make modifications to the boat configuration, mast and rigging. The boat is currently undergoing a refit at the Sunreef shipyard in Gdansk (Poland), including paintwork, changes to the electronics, lines, rigging, new sails and a general inspection. Meanwhile, the duo have begun an intensive physical training programme including cycling, crossfit and running.