Shirley Robertson OBE, Double gold medallist and TV Presenter

  New Year in Barcelona
15 January 2011

New Year in Barcelona

Whose idea was it to start the Barcelona World race on New Years Eve?

Full of too much festive red wine and children’s selection box the CNN Mainsail team headed off to Spain on December 27th for the start of this fantastic race, that proved to be full of drama before it even started.

Only the second edition of this classic double-handed race around the world, the boats and sailors are pushed to their limits, testing talent and relationships – a strong bond between the team of two is crucial and the attrition rate can be brutal.

CNN profiled many of the sailors but the story of the week soon became about the British skipper of Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson. Alex seemed more mature than I had seen before,  perhaps more ready than ever, this was to be his race, he said he ‘couldn’t have done more’. Then with two days to go he undergoes an emergency appendectomy and as far as he can see his race is over…..

Hugo Boss However, with less than a day to go the race director granted permission for Alex to be substituted for the start and re-join the race when he is declared medically fit. Hugo Boss started the race with substitute skipper Wouter Verbraak after a consultation represented by all of the competing skippers. The skippers voted by an overwhelming majority to accept the request of the Hugo Boss team.

Alex flew home to the UK the next day and his fiancé Kate went into labour, unexpectedly he was present for the birth of his beautiful baby boy Oscar. We filmed the happy family together on Sunday 9th, Alex now the proud daddy but yet excited about rejoining the race the following day. Unfortunately the following day he did not leave for Cape Verde islands, he was in Southampton General Hospital with Oscar who needed medical attention for a heart condition. It has since been reported that the condition has stabilised but Oscar will need close monitoring over the coming weeks, therefore Alex made the decision that he would not be joining Hugo Boss for the Barcelona World Race.

Skipper Andy Meiklejohn and substitute skipper Wouter Verbraak will now assume the full role of skipper for the duration of the race.

My thoughts are with Alex, Kate and baby Oscar.

About the Barcelona World Race
On 31st December 2010 at 1300 hrs (local time) 14 IMOCA Open 60′s crossed the start line in the Barcelona World Race. This is the second edition of the only double handed race around the world non-stop, although outside assistance is permitted subject to rules and penalties.

The course takes the fleet from Barcelona to Barcelona via the three great capes; The Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn. The length of the course is approximately 25,000 nautical miles (46,300 km) along the Great Circle line, the shortest route traced on a map across the world.

14 Teams crossed the start line on December 31st and fifteen days later (15/01/11) thirteen teams are still racing, Président skippered by Jean Le Cam and Bruno García retired on 12th January after losing their rig on 9th January. Official retirement was received after the duo arrived safely in the Cape Verde Islands.

Currently two of the long term front runners Foncia and Virbac-Paprec 3 are heading for the Brazilian port of Recife, to make repairs, and will try to get back on track as soon as possible. The lead has now been handed over to Estrella Damm who continue the dive south, some 90 miles ahead of the second racing boat, MAPFRE.  The battle is now truly underway, to keep up with all action on the race track visit: Barcelona World Race Website

Barcelona World Race Start