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2 December 2004, 01:15 pm
BG SPIRIT Commands Narrow Lead
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

Less than 24 hours ago the whole fleet was separated by just 16nm of water. The sharp end of the fleet is still incredibly close - 3nm keeps 5th from 1st, but the distance from front to back has increased to 58nm.

Pindar's spinnaker loss yesterday has clearly cost them dearly. Team Stelmar's daily log today reports seeing 'another yacht having a few difficulties with a spinnaker sail that was apparently flying freely from the top of their mast.' An incident which has put Pindar in twelfth place, with Team Save the Children in front of them, currently 39nm off the pace.

Above them on the leader board, a group of 3 yachts, Samsung (eighth), Me to You (ninth) and Imagine It. Done (tenth) are close in terms of distance to leader, all between 19 and 21nm behind the leader. However, Imagine It. Done. is in the easterly group closest to the rhumb line, Me to You is in the pack further east, and Samsung is heading back to the line after an easterly flyer.

Mid-fleet consists of a two-way fight for 6th between SAIC La Jolla and Team Stelmar. Eero Lehtinen and his crew have the edge at present, 9nm off the pace, but Team Stelmar is only 2nm behind.

The top five are so close the next poll could well see the lead change hands. BG SPIRIT is leading the way at present, but light airs demand concentration and marginal leads become fragile. Conditions are not quite what the teams had been expecting today, with general conditions described as 'light' across the fleet.

The forming high-pressure system to the east of South America has moved inshore and developed, now centred around 600nm east of Buenos Aires. As a result, most of the fleet is experiencing warmer winds from the north-northwest, instead of the stronger and colder westerlies expected by this stage.

Along with the landmass of South America, the high-pressure system has impeded the progress of the low-pressure frontal system, causing it to fill in. Looking ahead, Samsung's bold move east does not look to be a winner - if the winds do increase as predicted, they will pick up from the west, so teams further west will benefit first.

Dee CAFFARI, skipper of Imagine It. Done seems to agree:

'Tactically, we are trying to follow the rhumb line as a new weather file we received today showed us a dead patch of wind just to the west tonight. Hoping we can avoid that patch and keep the yacht moving in the squally weather ahead - the new breeze should fill in from the west first.'

Dan Wedgewood (As Amended by ISAF)
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