One of the favorites: Alex Thomson's "Hugo Boss"
In the Spanish metropolis of Barcelona, nine skipper duos have been preparing for what is probably the toughest regatt of the Open 60 class after the Vendee Globe for weeks. The completely new racing format two-handed, non-stop around the world should give the already booming class a further impulse.
The race is exciting because it is the ultimate test for the next Vendee Globe 2008. Seven of the yachts at the start are new builds, for exactly this king event of the Open 60s. With the exception of "PRB", however, the others have not yet shown where they can be classified in terms of performance. The same applies to the interesting skipper dups that have found each other: A mix of Open 60 hot shots (Vincent Riou, Jean-Pierre Dick, Dominique Wavre, Roland Jourdain, Alex Thompson, Sebastien josse) meets Volvo race experts (Andrew Cape, Damian Foxhall) Americas Cup sailors (Jonathan McKee) or Maxi-Kat experts (Guillermo Atadill). Almost every team forms an interesting team that the skippers - mostly alone on the way - were able to get reinforcements on board for the BarcelonRace, who optimally complement their weaknesses. In this respect, the spectators can expect a hot race, because the crews should push the boats to the limit. In contrast to the Vendee Globe, of which the favorite Vincent Riou once said, there the boats are sailed around 20 percent below maximum because the skipper simply lacks the strength for all maneuvers at the ideal time or he has weaknesses
The route including scoring gates and ice gates.
Maybe that's why the fans can expect a record: Maybe the boats sailed this way for the first monohull non-stop circumnavigation of the class under 80 days. For the start, however, it looks rather slack: On Sunday at the start (1 p.m.), the meteorologists expect rather weak winds around 2 to 3 Beaufort.
PRB The top favorites are without question the last-time Vendée Globe winner Vincent Riou (left) and fifth-placed Sébastien Josse. The two French have known each other for years and have proven several times that they can do the Open 60s really quickly. Riou is also considered a gifted navigator and weather tactician. In addition, they have been sailing their new Farr design since mid-2006 and the first problems such as a broken mast and fine-tuning already behind you. They won the prologue (Fastnet Race) with ease. The boat was completely refitted shortly before take-off
Virbac-Ppaprec The Frenchman Jean-Pierre Dick (left) is one of the favorites: Vendée experienced, most recently very successful in the team with Loïck Peyron (first in the Transat), he is always good for a podium place. Irish co-skipper Damian Foxall is an experienced Open 60 sailor and Volvo Ocean Race participant. Dick's boat is a new 2007 Farr design; the first “Virbac” was one of the fastest. This time he dared to experiment: a new type of trim tab at the rear should bring advantages. But: Shortly before the start there were keel problems, the attachment was replaced at short notice
VeoliEnvironnement Top skipper Roland Jourdain (left) and his compatriot Jean-Luc Nélias should be among the front runners. Jourdain last demonstrated how strong he is when he won the Route du Rhum in 2006. Nélias has sailed with Jourdain many times, but has no round-the-world experience. It remains unclear how powerful your boat is: The Lombard design was perhaps the fastest boat of the last generation (built in 2004), but there are many new Open 60s at the start. So Jourdain had Juan Kouyoumdjian's boat completely redesigned in 2007: new keel, mast and swords
DeltDore The purely French duo Jérémie Beyou (left) and Sidney Gavignet are breaking new ground: both have not yet sailed around the world one-handed, and both have relatively little experience with the Open 60s. Gavignet was on board the "ABN Amro I" at the Volvo Race there, Beyou comes from the French Figaro class, which he won in 2005. The duo has been sailing and optimizing a new Bruce Farr design for a year. With a fourth place behind “PRB” and “Hugo Boss” in the Fastnet Race, the two showed that they still lack speed. Still a strong team
Hugo Boss One of the teams that should compete for victory consists of the Briton Alex Thomson (left) and the Australian Andrew Cape. Thomson is an experienced Open 60 skipper with various endurance races, a Vendée and a Velux 5 Oceans - both canceled due to defects. Cape is considered a top navigator and, as a Volvo race veteran, is very experienced when it comes to racing around the world. The question mark: Thomson is considered mega-aggressive and often risks the material. The Finot Conq design is only three months old, but could be the fastest ship in the field due to its radical lightweight construction concept
Estrell Dam The most interesting newcomer to the Open 60 scene is the Spaniard Guillermo Altadil (left). He has already completed six round-the-world races, including two Volvo Races and The Race with the “Club Med” category. Most recently he was a weather advisor for the United Internet Team Germany. He is considered an excellent navigator. Co-skipper Jonathan McKee, also from the cup scene, has sailed several endurance races with Open 60s. So a strong duo. But: The boat (Farr Design) was ready two months before the start, actually too late to get the usual teething problems under control
Temenos A veteran of the class is the Swiss Dominique Wavre. Six circumnavigations of the world, including two Vendée Globe (fourth and fifth) speak for themselves. Michèle Paret is one of two women in the race and has already competed several times with Wavre in long-distance races at Open 60s. Wavre is considered to be more defensive, which has given him places in the midfield in the past. And whether Paret can be a driving force for more performance seems questionable. It shouldn't be the boat: The new "Temenos", which has been optimized for a year, comes from the pen of Owen Clarke (including "Ecover")
MutuMadrilena The home team of the race starting in Barcelona, so to speak form the Spaniards Javier Sansó (left) and Pachi Rivero. Sansó has sailed a lot on Open 60s, including a Vendée Globe (2001, broken off due to a defect), but was always on bad financed boats. In this race, too, the sponsors came at the last minute. Co-skipper Rivero has neither round-the-world nor open 60 experience. He comes from the Spanish big boat scene. The two of them have one of the fastest boats of the last generation: Mike Golding's old "Ecover"
Education sin Frontiers Form one of the teams that cannot be involved in the front the Spaniard Albert Bargués and the Frenchwoman Servane Escoffier. Reason: Your boat is Ellen MacArthur's eight year old “Kingfisher”. The Owen Clarke design has revealed weaknesses in several races and a second Vendée Globe. The skipper duo will hardly be able to compensate for that. Bargués took part in long-distance races on board the Open 60s several times, but never had his own boat. And the 26-year-old Escoffier has just switched from an Open 50 to an Open 60.