Skipper Dee Caffari is now leading the Mirpuri Foundation “Turn the tide on Plastic” team in the Prologue Leg, a non-scoring race to the host city and start port of Alicante, Spain. It’s a final chance for teams to lock in crew configurations and get in some speed testing against the competition ahead of the start of Leg 1 on October 22 in Alicante.

Dee Caffari says she’ll be giving some of her crew who have less offshore miles time on board during the Prologue, as her team makes the transition from training to competition. “It’s an opportunity to get back into race mode,” she says. “It’s almost a practice of Leg 1, because we’re going from Lisbon to Alicante and that’s going to be the reverse for Leg 1 so it’s nice to suss it out.”

The weather forecast offers a mixed bag that will get the wrinkles out of all the new sails the teams have installed in Lisbon. Crews will face a light wind start in the Tagus River before a gentle run down the coast to Cape Saint-Vincent, the South West corner of Portugal. The light wind sails will stay up for the reach towards the Gibraltar Straight where the real action starts.

The boats will race upwind through the Gibraltar Straight early on Tuesday morning against the infamous Levanter easterly wind that could accelerate to over 30kts, all while penned in by a narrow coast, heavy shipping exclusion zones and coastal fishing nets. Forced into a 1.5-mile wide channel, skippers will be balancing the desire to push for a good result in their last warm-up versus the need to protect new sails that need to last 45,000 miles around the world.

After the Straights, the fleet will continue upwind through the Alboran Sea along the south Spanish coast in an uncomfortable sea state created by fresh easterlies running over the permanent eastwards current created by the Atlantic flowing into the Mediterranean. Turning northwards by Cabo de Gata, the wind is expected to drop to just 5 knots from the east, pushing the homecoming in the Alicante race village deep into Wednesday evening.

“We heard all the stories about how the Race Village in Alicante is nearly ready and everyone is waiting for us to arrive,” Caffari says. “And I know from the moment we arrive, the circus begins and it is pretty much non-stop. The time will fly by and we’ll be crossing that start line and heading away from Alicante for Leg 1 in no time.”

 

Photo credit: Beau Outteridge