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15 March 2005, 04:26 pm
Close Racing Continues
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

Pindar has been slowly creeping up the leaderboard in the past few days and is now in fifth place having raced past Spirit of Sark, winner of leg two and BG SPIRIT, winner of the third leg. Skipper Loz MARRIOTT (GBR) and his crew are now eager to get back in the running with first place BP Explorer who they beat in the last leg.
The yachts are still exceptionally close on leg four - there is just 40 miles separating the middle of the pack (fifth to tenth), with changes constantly occurring in the leaderboard, Eero LEHTINEN (FIN), skipper of Team SAIC La Jolla, explained: 'Don't count this team off before the fat lady switches off the microphone. Racing is closer than ever (again!) and the second half of the leg will be interesting to say the least. We will see some lighter winds involved with the high-pressure systems a bit further north and ahead of us.'

'Those 'blue patches' will certainly push the fleet together even more and most likely even the unlucky Kids [Team Save the Children - Ed] will get a chance to join the gang again. BP has maintained a healthy lead for a while, but it's very early days still.'

The winds have finally moderated for the racing teams and they are 'Revelling in light winds after 72+ hours of gales,' Amedeo SORRENTINO, skipper of VAIO, explained.

After the onslaught of high winds, crews will be relieved to see the wind dropping off slightly, although life onboard is by no means suddenly easy. Vital maintenance work must be carried out such as mending bent and broken stanchions.

After three days on port tack and being pushed north of the course line the fleet is now on starboard tack heading west in 25-30 knots from the west-northwest. BP Explorer is holding on to the lead and edging further in front. Second placed Imagine It. Done. is now twelve nautical miles behind and Team Stelmar, still in third, another 20 miles further back.

The low-pressure system to the north seems to be heading eastward and will probably miss the fleet altogether, but they can be unstable in direction and could still influence the fleet area for the next twelve hours.

To the southwest, there is a conventional deep low-pressure system approaching. This will be the third 'classic' depression moving eastward to the south of the fleet and will bring strong winds initially from the west-northwest, backing gradually to the southwest.

'The breeze is forecast to stay north of the track for about 24 hours,' wrote Dee CAFFARI (GBR), skipper of Imagine It.Done., last night, 'so we are on a southing tack. As the breeze allows it is important to make as much north as possible so as to make it around the waypoint without being on a non-making tack.'

Rachel Anning (As Amended By ISAF). Image, SAIC La Jolla:© Challenge Business
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