Race skippers will be hoping that come start day, December 31st, mayor Jordi Hereu has same hot line to the weather gods as he clearly had today when the city of Barcelona laid on its very best December weather as the mayor formally welcomed the skippers who will take part in the Barcelona World Race and opened the Moll Barcelona World Race Expo and the Race Fleet Pontoon.
With 12 days to count down until the race start, the sun warmed the Race Fleet Dock as the skippers and their teams assembled by their IMOCA Open 60’s relaxed and ready to meet the city mayor. In turn they were presented with their symbolic mooring lines and race flags.
Mayor Hereu opened the multi-faceted Expo, described by Fundació Navegació Oceánica Barcelona President Pere Alcober as a ‚great place for visitors to enjoy and learn the experiences of ocean racing.‘
He greeted each of the skippers individually wished of them good luck and a safe race, before thanking all of the companies who sponsor and support this second edition of the Barcelona World Race, wished and inaugurated the colourful Expo which is open until 6th January.
The mayor called on visitors and the public to take to the beaches of Barceloneta on 31st December to give a huge farewell to the skippers for their round the world race.
Hereu was joined by representatives of the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona, the City council, Cambra de Comerç (Chamber of Commerce), Autoritat Portuària of Barcelona (The Port Authority)and Fira of Barcelona (Trades Associations Fair).
While the Expo was officially opened at 1300hrs, there had already been an early start for the skippers and also Spanish National Radio’s live programme ‚No es un dia cualqueira‘ which broadcast from the Expo all morning from 0900hrs.
The skippers started a series of briefings, meeting with Andor Serra, director of the FNOB, to have a first seminar on the start day procedures and protocols, as well as briefings on the security and safety protocols. Race doctor Francesc Bonet was also president.
With the support of Grand Krust, who previously supported the Spanish heroes‘ 49er programme, the skippers of Mapfre, Iker Martinez (ESP) and Xabi Fernandez (ESP), this morning donated more than half a tonne of hiqh quality seafood to charity which benefits people in need in and around their city of Santander where the duo base themselves.
And at 1615hrs the Swiss-French duo Dominique Wavre and his partner Michèle Paret had their IMOCA Open 60 MIrabaud, the Owen-Clarke design christened by soprano Ainoha Arteta who is the godmother for their programme.
Jordi Hereu (ESP): „This Barcelona World Race is in fact double the size of the first edition and it will keep growing. We will all follow your adventures and Barcelona relates to it not only only in sport but also with solidarity, from the perspective f environmental protection and education. Barcelona’s has always related to the rest of the world through the sea. And we thank the companies who have all supported the Barcelona World Race.“
Pere Alcober (ESP) President of the Fundació Navegació Oceánica Barcelona:
„The city looks to the sea, but not just the Mediterranean, but all of the oceans.“ „This Expo is a great place for visitors to learn and enjoy the experience of ocean racing.“
Alex Thomson (GBR) Hugo Boss: „It is great to have the official opening of the race village, the Moll Barcelona World Race, and to have the skippers here, and the boats lined up, it all feels now like we really are getting ready for the showdown in a couple of weeks. It is lovely here, nice and warm and a relaxing day, especially compared to the rest of Europe. When left Germany this morning at it was minus 13 degrees.“
Anna Corbella (ESP), GAES Centros Auditivos: „For me this feels like an important day, nice to meet the mayor and that really makes you feel like the city is with me and support me and that really feels good, and see the other skippers, but also for me it is one day less before the start, and that is more important. It is good because I want to start today. I am not nervous but I want to go. I know the day will arrive, but I am not nervous, just feeling impatient.“
Dominique Wavre (SUI): “ We have a wonderful godmother in Ainhoa Arteta who christened our boat with Gramona with a lot of conviction. She gives soul to the boat, to Mirabaud which is really important for us even if it is largely symbolic, it will not actually make us faster but for our personal feelings, and for Barcelona and Spain it is really great to have her as a godmother. It is great for the team and for our sponsors Mirabaud to have our wonderful soprano who will accompany us for all of the race.“
Xabi Fernandez (ESP) Mapfre: „This morning we write a cheque, but not with money, with seafood. Together with company called Grand Krust who we used to support us in our 49er, every year for the past five years we send seafood to a charity which helps the homeless in Santander. It used to be just the two of us in the 49er, but now we’re a bigger team the weight is going up and up!“