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30 November 2004, 03:12 pm
Into The South
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Buenos Aires (ARG) - Wellington (NZL)

On the third day of racing, reports are starting to trickle in that the cold is coming! Now out of the River Plate the thoroughly refreshed crews are chomping at the bit to get in the lead and brush away any association of being near the back of the fleet.

There are currently 12 miles separating the three dead heat front runners (Spirit of Sark, Me to You and BP Explorer) and back two (Imagine It. Done and VAIO) yacht, as the fleet jostles to get the upper hand, over closest rivals and are swapping places like giant yo yos.

The main pack is keeping tight in middle ground, currently lying in the centre of the east-west split. VAIO has the inside line as the most westerly yacht, and BG SPIRIT and Samsung heading out to the east. Samsung are the furthest east having made the boldest move out in an attempt to capitalise on some northerly breezes approaching from the east. With the BBC weatherman on board, Phil Avery, it will be interesting to see if this gamble pays off, although Race HQ has confirmed that for the second poll they have recorded the fastest 24 hour run of 177 miles (although not directly parallel to the course).

The next major shift in weather will be strong northwesterly winds approaching from the southwest. If the fleet formation remains an almost flat line charge to the Horn, it will not be the leaders that the see the benefit of this shift first, but the most easterly yachts, as the low-pressure system crosses the landmass of South America and meets the fleet. The stronger winds are expected tomorrow, so the sailing will be brisk for the rest of the week until they reach Cape Horn, probably on Friday or Saturday.

BOAT QUOTES:

DUGGIE GILLESPIE (Spirit of Sark)

'Like many of my crew I'm full of anticipation about going into the Southern Ocean. It's only natural - I've been down there before in the very first Global Challenge back in 1992/93 as a crew member myself and though it can be wet, cold and miserable it is also a spectacular place to be. This is what I'm telling the crew - it will be a massive achievement and a truly remarkable experience in one of the most remote places on earth!

'We've just headed out of the River Plate and it's starting to get colder on deck. We're sailing under medium spinnaker and we have no seasickness.

'We're doing this leg for Annee (de Mamiel) and calling it the 'Annee Leg'. She was due to be racing with us as a legger but is still such a supporter and has helped us no end in getting us all rganized!' (Anne raced in the BT Global Challenge but had to pull out of the race after developing cancer. Sadly her illness has precluded her from finishing her race around the world).

STUART JACKSON (Barclays Adventurer)

'Waking up on our second morning and it feels like we have barely been off the boat. The excitement is back and all the crew have thrown themselves back into it with gusto. We have been lucky enough to have a light start and it looks set to continue that way over the next few days, so tactically we are aiming to stay with the guys up front and stick as close to the rhumb line as possible, and as usual, trim to win!

'This is just the start of a marathon of a leg and its great to see all the boats safely on their way with some great weather to ease us back into things.'

AMEDEO SORRENTINO AND CREW (VAIO)

Yesterday we had some interesting tactical discussions on board. At 6pm local time we were quite close to the shore and had 4 yachts just behind us and 1 just in front, while the leading yachts were all further offshore.

'We seem to be the only boat out of our group of 5 that chose to stick to the shortest course, while the rest headed out. From last night's positions it looks like the yachts that were close to us managed to catch up with the leaders, indicating that they may indeed have ended up in a lull and are now all bunching up. In the course of the next 24 - 48 hours we will find out what strategy worked best, and indeed if it made any difference at all as we converge on a course to the Cape.'

CLIVE COSBY (Team Stelmar)

We have caught up and now are only a matter of miles off the lead, the last sched (position reports) put us 5.2 (n miles) back (and) now we can see BP and Sark at the front clearly away to starboard - not 5.2 miles any more.

'We are doing everything we can to keep the speed on, trim, trim, trim speed down the middle of the fleet and calling the wind shifts to gybe. This a marathon event, and this is a big leg giving us a nice gentle start - downwind in 11-14kts, in a weeks time as we hope to be at the horn we will be unlikely to be in similar conditions!'

PAUL KELLY (TEAM SAVE THE CHILDREN)

'Understandably we do have a lot of pressure on us as we came into Buenos Aires in last place but of we put too much pressure on ourselves then it'll effect performance. At the minute we're just focusing on the boats around us. We had a cracking tacking duel with Stelmar and Barclays, with just two boat lengths in it for over 12 hours. The pressure's on but we're racing our own game.'

Rachel Anning (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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