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12 May 2004, 11:21 am
Bonduelle Makes A Break
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1000 Milles De Calais

A ridge of high pressure has caught up with the fleet and the outlook as they make for Calais is for light shifty winds.
The competitors that passed the Fastnet last night were right on the axis of this ridge where the winds were weak. A gentle wind was blowing from the west for the last competitors while the frontrunners were back in a north-westerly or northerly.

The ridge of high pressure has shifted slightly to the east and Bonduelle has got clear of it and managed to open up a marked lead.

Ecover was indeed first round the Fastnet at midnight followed by Bonduelle at 0010 (French time). PRB smoked past a stalled Virbac to take third, with the latter trapped in a windless zone just metres from the famous mark and still to do the tour at the 0230 radio session. At the same time Ecover was still leading...by just 185 metres...but four hours later Bonduelle had snatched back pole position 12.2 miles ahead of Ecover, tailed by PRB, 24.7 miles from the leader. The king of the fleet in this 1000 milles de Calais is currently streaking away from its pursuers on a more southerly route towards Land's End making 10.3 knots of boat speed whilst their rivals are making anything from half to five knots or so...At 0715 a north-easterly wind has picked up both Bonduelle and Ecover.

The high and lows of rounding the Fastnet were evident at this morning's radio session at 0230 GMT. Brian THOMPSON (Ecover) positively revelled in the moment. "The light of the lighthouse, those of the fishermen, the flat sea, Bonduelle just behind us: the passage of the Rock was really spectacular." Quite a reaction from someone with a track record like Thompson's as one of the most experienced sailors on the planet, fresh from his latest round the world record aboard Cheyenne... "At the moment we've gone from 6 knots to nothing. We should have about 2 knots of wind but we hope that as we distance ourselves from the Irish coast we'll get some clear air."

If the competitors can touch a light northerly wind during the day, it is likely that they'll find light variable winds again in the Channel. Full positions are available on the event website at the address below.
Kate Jennings
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