It’s decision-making time for the boats at the front of the Barcelona World Race fleet. With the Indian Ocean safely navigated for the front-runners, the Cook Strait could prove more than just a spectacular backdrop to the next waypoint, but an opportunity for further position changes.
For race leaders Virbac-Paprec 3, the initial decisions on how to approach the waypoint have largely been made. Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron (FRA) opted for a northerly route, which has set them on a direct course to the Straits between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Although conditions look likely to become trickier as they approach the coast, for now the duo continue at 13-14 knot averages, with Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron (FRA) expected to reach Cook Strait sometime this morning.
“It looks like we still have 365 miles until the entrance of Cook Strait. We will take at least 24 hours to get there and as we close in against the prevailing winds things will get a little complicated,”explained Peyron via video conference.
Tactically, the biggest dilemmas are for MAPRE in second and Estrella Damm in third. With a high pressure system spreading across the Tasman Sea, the decision of whether to go north or south of it, and when to go, will be critical for both. Finding themselves in the center will obviously involve a period of light winds, although if the high is tracking east quickly enough, that pain could be short lived. Erring to the southeast could bring later pain , while taking a more northwesterly route would depend on critical timing to catch new breeze from the west.
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