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8 December 2004, 09:30 am
Top Two Inseperable
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

After battling for the lead yesterday afternoon, so close they could almost talk to each other, there was no respite for the leading pair by the evening. The latest position reports indicated they are separated by a matter of metres.

The race viewer shows their tracks converging and culminates in a stark graphical representation of how close they are - two yachts appear to become one. Having rounded Cape Horn their entrance to the Southern Ocean is a true spectacle - they are match racing side-by-side out into the oceanic wilderness at the head of the fleet.

The wind has started shifting round to the northwest so the majority of teams, including the inseparable top two, are heading west-southwest. When the wind moves further round to the north, this will allow the teams to move back towards the rhumb line on the same tack and simultaneously maintain a favourable wind angle. Although the breeze may then shift slightly back towards the west, fast reaching conditions should ensue as the winds strengthen.

Towards the back of the fleet, Team Save the Children and Pindar seem to have been caught in a calm patch judging by their average speed over the last six hours. They are among the most northerly teams so it is possible that the nearby islands could be casting wind shadows and causing variable conditions. However, it has allowed Team Stelmar to catch Pindar - they are now only 3nm behind, which will provide a huge psychological boost for the crew after their diversion from the racecourse.

Leg 1 winner, Barclays Adventurer is currently in fifth, just north of fourth placed VAIO and only 3nm behind them in terms of distance to leader. They proved to be consistent performers throughout the first leg and although some may have imagined their victory would pile on the pressure, skipper Stuart JACKSON commented in an interview recently that he feels their proven track record gives the team a degree of freedom to concentrate on the sailing. Emma-Kate LACEY described their passage round Cape Horn and the atmosphere after fulfilling an ambition:

'On deck it was exciting, exhilarating and icy as Barclays Adventurer ploughed through the mountainous waves … Now we have achieved an extraordinary feat there is an air of tranquility amongst all Adventurers as our goal can never be as daunting as the one we have just come across. We can't wait now for Wellington as the next part of our Southern voyage continues.'

The teams have all been sending their reports about rounding Cape Horn today, which can be found in the daily logs section, along with pictures in the gallery. The recurrent theme is a strange sense of satisfaction that the weather met their expectations - the wind picked up to over 30 knots, with gusts up to 45 knots. The bows were submerged in waves and the Cape itself did not disappoint teams that sailed close enough to take a mental picture that will stay with them for years to come.

A sense of pride comes through the reports, with obvious elation at rounding the Cape, possibly compounded by the relief of making it past such a notorious landmark! However, there is no respite as the next hurdle, the small matter of over 4000nm of the Southern Ocean and Christmas and New Year at sea, lies between the fleet and Wellington.

Dan Wedgewood (As Amended by ISAF)
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