The first edition of the Barcelona World Race featured the participation of nine boats and 18 crew members, including one of the top-ranking solo skippers and two worldwide, from a total of countries: France (9), Spain (4), the UK (1), Australia (1), the US (1), Ireland (1) and Switzerland (1).
The start signal was given at 13 hours on the 11th of November 2007. Ten days earlier, the Village had opened its doors at Barcelona’s Moll de la Fusta, allowing the public to come and see the boats up close. This was a citizen event of the highest order: between those present at the Village and those who followed the start of the race, the number of spectators totalled 500,000 people, with 650 boats at sea.
The race progressed very slowly until it passed the Canary Islands, due to the lack of wind on the Mediterranean and trade winds expected after Gibraltar. After crossing the equator, the pace of the race picked up, with an intense battle witnessed at the head of the fleet, notably between Jean-Pierre Dick and Damian Foxall’s Paprec-Virbac 2 and Vincent Riou and Sébastien Josse’s PRB. Upon reaching the South Atlantic, the skippers showed just how twin-sailing can push boats to their limits. On-board the Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape beat the 24-hour record, achieving over 501 nautical miles (928.4 km).
The first drop-out was recorded before the Indian Ocean, in the shape of the Estrella Damm manned by Guillermo Altadill and Jonathan McKee, who were forced to abandon the race at Cape Town due to rudder trouble. As the regatta reached Indian Ocean, the toughness of the 'roaring forties' (the name given to the zone of boisterous westerly winds under the 40th parallel south) caused three further withdrawals: Vincent Riou and Sébastien Josse’s PRB, Jérémie Beyou and Sydney Gavignet’s Delta Dore and Roland Jourdain and Jean-Luc Nélias’ Veolia Environnement, all of these due to mast breakage. After this chain of events, Paprec-Virbac 2 emerged as the clear leader, Hugo Boss close on its heels.
Later, three boats stopped in Wellington for repairs and were forced to spend the 48 hour penalty prescribed by the regulations in the New Zealand port: these were the Hugo Boss, Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret’s Temenos II and Bubi Sansó and Pachi Rivero’s Mutua Madrileña.
The second half of the race saw two exciting duels: one between Paprec-Virbac 2 and Hugo Boss, which, impressively, managed to recover part of the time lost in Wellington, and the second between Temenos II and Mutua Madrileña. The journey up the South Atlantic was plagued almost constantly by headwinds which slowed the regatta further still, adding to the thrill as some boats saw themselves forced to ration food supplies as a result. Paprec-Virbac 2 went on strengthening its leading position and returned to gaining a solid lead over Hugo Boss. The Gibraltar crossing was especially tough on the first four, who were faced with strong eastern winds and major bow swell. Eventually, Paprec-Virbac 2 crossed the finish line in front of Barcelona’s Port Olímpic on the 11th of February 2008 at 21:49:49.