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23 December 2004, 01:10 pm
Global Challenge Fleet Expects to Cross the Vendee Fleet
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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 are still having to sail as hard as they can as the incredibly close racing which has been a feature of this leg continues. James MORBEY, a capacity manager for Barclays from Grendon, and crew-member on Barclays Adventurer writes of the positive mood onboard, "we are all excited about the last 2000 miles as there is plenty of racing to be done with so many yachts close to each other."

The mid-fleet pack may have made small gains on the front-runners - but Duggie GILLESPIE and his team on Spirit of Sark have held onto and even marginally increased their lead overnight to 20 miles and are working determinedly to hold on to it. However, astonishingly, there are still only 51 miles separating first and ninth boats - which is almost unprecedented in an event of this nature, after over 4000 miles of racing.

In this morning's poll, the yachts are reporting boat speeds consistently over 8 knots with Samsung making the best 24 hour run of 202 miles, managing to maintain an average speed of 9.6 knots over the past six hours. They are 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.
Kate Hayler (As Amended by ISAF)
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