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27 December 2004, 01:18 pm
Dead Even At The Top
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

Unbelievably, it is dead level at the top - BP Explorer has caught up with Spirit of Sark and now lies exactly the same distance from the finish line!
Samsung have stormed into 3rd as their unstoppable rise continues, and VAIO and BG SPIRIT are once again matching one another in 4th and 5th respectively, both reporting a distance of 1,287nm to the finish line this morning, 22nm behind the leading pair.

However, they are no longer crossing within yards of each other and almost colliding, because BG SPIRIT has headed north - now the most northerly team of the fleet in fact. They could be trying to avoid the centre of the high-pressure system passing below the fleet today; the cause of the lighter airs and a welcome return to downwind sailing.

Unfortunately for Imagine It. Done. and Pindar, while the majority of the fleet have made telling gains on the front runner, closing the gap between the first 8 yachts to 35nm, they have not made up any significant mileage overnight.

However, Dee CAFFARI, skipper of Imagine It. Done. is also heading north to try and avoid the lightest patches and hopes to make gains in the frustrating conditions ahead:

"We have just gybed in the light conditions so that we can head north of the track rather than south of it as there is a light patch developing south of us that will cover the course in a few hours time.

"From there we will be in light winds for a minimum of a day, and it is true that massive gains and losses are made in light airs. Our history illustrates that we are good at gaining miles in light airs so it is important that we concentrate at this time."

And the incredibly densely packed fleet will exaggerate any of the light wind gains or losses as teams continue to report other yachts in sight. Me to You and SAIC La Jolla had two yachts in view yesterday and all the teams seem to be building up to a finish so close it will prompt a look at the history books, to see if a leg of this length has ever been so competitive.

Conditions today have been made even more pleasant by the return to a life that resembles something flat, and gradually increasing temperatures have allowed a layer or two to come off and the sunglasses to return… occasionally.

"Boxing Day has not been hangovers and indigestion," writes VAIO's Ben BEASLEY this morning, "but some great spinnaker sailing, which has given us the great Christmas present of life on an even keel - we are so easily pleased!"

"We are currently surfing along under spinnaker in quite pleasant conditions," echoed SAIC La Jolla's Greig Taylor today, "I'm even tempted to say it is only mildly chilly… The first 9 yachts are bunching even more now so we have all to play for."
Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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