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10 March 2005, 02:44 pm
BP Explorer Maintains Her Lead
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

The fleet is still running parallel on the same tack, led by BP Explorer - now twelve miles in front of Imagine It. Done.
The fleet has been experiencing reaching conditions making for fast 24 hour runs in the right direction. BG SPIRIT recorded the greatest distance sailed in this period of 224 nm, averaging 9.4 knots, adding to their fragile 2 nm lead over Spirit of Sark.

Ahead it looks like there will be a day's calm before the next low arrives as Duggie GILLESPIE (GBR), skipper of Spirit of Sark explains: 'Possible light winds further down our track and we await these conditions. We are keeping the northing that we have for now, to see what happens ahead. Fantastic reaching conditions at the moment - good to have a different point of sail for a change from up-wind.'

Hoping to catch up with the leaders is Loz MARRIOTT (GBR), skipper aboard Pindar: 'Being in the northern part of the fleet has helped and we have gained a few miles on the leaders. At present we have strong northerlies, which are going to back to the northwest for a good few hours. In the medium term, there is a front, after which we will encounter strong westerlies.'

David MELVILLE (GBR), skipper of BP Explorer is determined not to let the fleet creep back up: 'We are reasonably happy with our position at the halfway stage to Waypoint Bravo. The challenge is to consolidate that position and to cover yachts close on our heels but representing a very wide north - south spread.'

Chasing BP Explorer is proving difficult for Dee CAFFARI (GBR) on board Imagine it. Done. with visibility so poor she can barely see a few boat lengths ahead: 'With the weather allowing visibility to only 10 boat lengths, if that, there is very little chance of seeing each other, even with the closeness we have had racing. The worry now comes with the next low and the westerly blast that comes with it.'

'The fleet is all going the same direction now, as we have enjoyed strong reaching conditions for the whole of last night, but the racing will be split again as the fleet starts to tack its way upwind through the westerly airflow. We shall all rendezvous at Waypoint Bravo in less than 2,000 miles I expect.'

Also with one eye on Waypoint Bravo, as well as the imminent weather system, is Clive COSBY (GBR) aboard Team Stelmar: 'Staying on starboard tack for a while as winds are favourable, maintaining a sail plan for balance to avoid weather helm, constantly trimming of main and adjusting course for best position and speed towards Waypoint Bravo.'

Rachel Anning (As Amended By ISAF). Image, BP Explorer:© Challenge Business
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