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29 March 2005, 12:57 pm
Can Anything Slow Down The Leaders?
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Sydney, AUS - Cape Town, RSA

Overnight, fleet leader Imagine It. Done. has maintained a 15 mile advantage over second placed Spirt of Sark. All eyes appear to be on the leading two as they extend their lead over the rest of the fleet, "The leaders seem to be rocking, can anything slow them down? Torpedoes!" writes SAIC La Jolla skipper Eero LEHTINEN.
In fact, it appears that Spirit of Sark hasn't even been able to sail at full throttle for the last few days, having damaged their yankee 2 on Good Friday. A round-the-clock sail repair operation ensued allowing the crucial sail to be rehoisted yesterday. "Nice to have the number 2 back up after having been fantastically repaired by a focused crew back to full fighting form," writes skipper Duggie GILLESPIE, no doubt looking to chip away at Imagine It. Done.'s lead.

Currently, most of the teams are heading to the west north west, having tacked on a windshift during the night. They are experiencing brisk 18 knot westerlies, which look set to veer and decrease as an area of high pressure and light winds settles in to the north of the fleet. With only 170 miles separating the majority of the fleet, reading the weather systems, judging when to tack and getting best boat speed will be the current onboard priorities.

David MELVILLE and his crew on BP Explorer are still holding on to third place, 15 miles behind Spirit of Sark, but over 30 miles ahead of Pindar and Team Stelmar, which are currently battling it out in fourth and fifth place.

Both teams have recorded strong speeds averaging 8.5 knots over the last six hours. Each of the crews are determined to drive the yachts as hard as they can, in the hope of pulling away from their rivals. "This is nail biting stuff!" writes Pindar crew-member Cathy DAVIS. "I am pulling my hair out...the pressure is constant. There is no room for errors, barely time to breathe. Over 5,000 nautical miles covered and yet another boat is literally at arm's reach."

Meanwhile some forty miles further back, Barclays Adventurer is heading up the mid-fleet pack, with SAIC La Jolla, Samsung, Me To You and BG SPIRIT in pursuit. "We are trying to find any opportunity to catch on Barclays Adventurer without losing control on Samsung and other boats behind us." writes SAIC La Jolla skipper Eero LEHTINEN. "This task is getting more of a challenge as Barclays and BG SPIRIT are heading more north and Samsung and Me To You have taken a more southerly route."

Although still bringing up the rear, Team Save the Children and VAIO have made gains on the fleet through the night, Team Save the Children recording the highest 24 hour run of 198 miles.
Kate Hayler (As Amended by ISAF)
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