The Barcelona World Race 2007/08
The first edition of the Barcelona World Race boasted nine boats with 18 skippers, representing some of the best solo and double-handed sailors in the world from seven different countries: France (9), Spain (4), UK (1), Australia (1), USA (1), Ireland (1) and Switzerland (1).
The start was given at 13:00 (local time GMT+1) on the 11th of November 2007. Ten days earlier the Race Village opened at Barcelona's Moll de la Fusta, where the general public could take a look at the racing yachts close-up before they set off. This was an important event for the city, with the Village and start of the challenge receiving some 500,000 visits and 650 boats on the water to watch the IMOCA Open 60s set off on their adventure.
The regatta made a slow start before picking up pace after the Canaries due to the absence of breeze in the Mediterranean and a no-show from the predicted trade winds after Gibraltar. Once the yachts were past the Equator the speeds really climbed and an intense battle at the top of the fleet ensued, particularly between Paprec-Virbac 2 with Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall and PRB with Vincent Riou and Sébastien Josse onboard.In the Southern Ocean the sailors displayed the double-handed capabilities of the yachts. Onboard Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape broke the 24 hour speed record by sailing 501 nautical miles (928.4 km).
The first entry to abandon the race came before the Indian Ocean when Guillermo Altadill and Jonathan McKee were forced to retire to Cape Town on Estrella Damm following rudder damage. With the rest of the fleet in the Indian Ocean, the gruelling 'Raging Forties' (the howling westerly winds below 40ºS latitude) provoked three more entries to halt their challenges:PRB with Vincent Riou and Sébastien Josse; Delta Dore with Jérémie Beyou and Sydney Gavignet and Veolia Environnement with Roland Jourdain and Jean-Luc Nélias. All of these were broken masts. Following this unfortunate chain of events Paprec-Virbac 2 became outright leader, with Hugo Boss hot on her tail.
Further on, three boats made a pit-stop in Wellington for repairs and stayed there for the penalty period of 48 hours, as stipulated in the race rules: Hugo Boss, Temenos II with Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret and Mutua Madrileña with Spaniards Bubi Sansó and Pachi Rivero.
The second half of the race featured two thrilling battles: between Paprec-Virbac 2 and Hugo Boss,who admirably made up the time lost at Wellington and between Temenos II and Mutua Madrileña.
The climb up the South Atlantic was almost entirely against strong headwinds, which slowed down the regatta pace considerably but sent emotions rising, with some of the crews forced to carefully ration food supplies. Paprec-Virbac 2 moved into a stronger lead in the North Atlantic, ahead of Hugo Boss. The passage through the Gibraltar Strait was particularly tough for the first four entries to go through with some strong Levant winds and some big swell coming at them. In the end Paprec-Virbac 2 crossed the finishing line at Barcelona's Port Olímpic on the 11th of February 2008 at 21:49:49 (local time GMT+1).