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24 December 2004, 10:56 am
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

The Race Offices of the Global Challenge and the Vendée Globe have spent the last few days exchanging information about their respective fleets, as the yachts participating in two of the most well-known ocean yacht races will soon cross the same line of longitude - possibly on Christmas Day.

It's unlikely the fleets will see each other as the eastabout Vendée Globe yachts are considerably further south heading for South America, whilst the Global Challenge fleet is heading west and north towards Wellington. However, it is hoped that a live link-up will take place between one of the Vendée competitors Mike Golding (skipper of Ecover and winner of the BT Global Challenge 1996/97) and Barclays Adventurer, winner of the first leg, in the next week.

Meanwhile as Christmas approaches, the teams still have to sail as hard as they can as the incredibly close racing, which has been a feature of this leg, continues.

Spirit of Sark is still out in front and leading the fleet for the 2000 mile stretch to Wellington. All the yachts now appear to be sailing approximately the same course - just north of west.

Imagine It. Done. currently lying in 10th place, did try to strike out on their own, but as skipper Dee CAFFARI describes, our decision to go north to try and split from the fleet a little didn't work as they all came too. So we are pointing at the waypoint and hoping that as we start tacking in the next low we can carry off a blinder!'

Dee goes on to write, 'the fleet is so well matched that in heavy airs we all carry the same sail plan and travel at the same speed so distances don't really change that much, just angles that people sail at have an effect.

The teams are watching each other's moves closely and are also keeping a sharp eye for icebergs. 'The blue tinged white of an iceberg is something we would like to see and having recently had safety reports of icebergs 1000 miles to the west we may be lucky,' writes Mel LEETHAM, crew-member on Me To You.

The match racing seems to be set to continue for a little longer, and as Eero LEHTINEN, skipper of SAIC La Jolla says, 'if we continue like this, the race committee might have to set cameras on the finishing line. Get your binoculars and cameras ready, the show is about to begin!'

The fleet is currently experiencing winds of between 30 and 35 knots from the southwest, which are expected to last throughout the day and then veer round to the west overnight and ease off on Friday, perfect for a nice Christmas lunch on Saturday!

Yesterday we brought you news of the threat of a possible falling space station, with a mixture of mild amusement and concern prevalent throughout the fleet. VAIO, it seems took it all very seriously as they explained in their daily log: 'Since the message came through, our concerned skipper Amedeo has been on deck 24 hours a day, patrolling the good ship VAIO, watching the skies and trying to keep us safe from interplanetary craft (See photo for evidence).

Emergency safety helmets have been issued, UFO stories are the talk of the rail, and we have added a column for 'check bilges for aliens' to the hourly log. No little green men as yet, no Russian cosmonauts either, but mysteriously Amedeo's Musto footwear has been replaced by a pair of Moon Boots. We suspect he may have aspirations beyond simply around the world.

We can confirm though that the space station was actually Russian and was being dismantled. We can confirm through Heidi Brook, a Maritime Safety spokesperson that the fleet is no danger, as the nearest they got was 500 miles southwest of the area. The warning ceased this afternoon. There was nothing out of the ordinary in such danger zones being designated.

FLEET POSITIONS

Distance to finish

Spirit of Sark 1,889
BP Explorer 1,910
BG SPIRIT 1,914
VAIO 1,916
Samsung 1,925
SAIC La Jolla 1,929
Me to You 1,933
Barclays Adventurer 1,937
Save the Children 1,940
Imagine It. Done 1,993
Pindar 2,156
Team Stelmar

Rachel Anning (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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