Ten days ago they were fifth, a distant 844 miles from third place in the Barcelona World Race fleet, but Monday afternoon Pachi Rivero and Toño Piris passed by Wellington, New Zealand and elevated themselves to a podium place as they accelerated towards the Pacific to pursue leaders Virbac-Paprec 3 and MAPFRE.
While Estrella Damm and Groupe Bel are sidelined in the New Zealand capital working on their respective repairs and counting down through their mandatory 48 hours which they are required to be tied to the dock, the Spanish duo Rivero and Piris passed the longitude of Wellington at a little after midday UTC, ready to take the full benefit of the very favorable northerly winds which are likely to be with the Renault Z.E Sailing Team for at least 48 hours, and perhaps longer.
Partly due to the technical stopover of the two boats which held third and fourth, but also the effects of the high pressure zone which has effectively barred the entrance to the Cook Strait over recent days, the main body of the Barcelona World Race fleet is now much more compressed. A week ago between third and ninth there was 1,523 miles separating third from ninth in the fleet, now that is less than 700 miles.
For Rivero and Piris there is every chance of making their third place a solid one as the northerly airstream will decay behind them, presenting them with a welcome resurrection, leaving New Zealand with around 736 miles of deficit to the leader, when on February 8th they were more than 1,100 miles behind the leaders.
Ironically, the duo were curiously quiet through the Cook Strait on Monday, no doubt tired after the intense 48 hours during which they have been working hard to make sure they would not have to stop. Indeed, they reported that only in the last 24 hours did they make the decision not to halt, a welcome difference for Rivero who stopped there with Mutua Madrileña in the first edition of the race.