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14 May 2001, 09:58 am
The Fleet Heads North
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© Mark Pepper

BT Global Challenge

In an emotional 'blessing of the waves' ceremony Archbishop Desmond Tutu addressed the crews, friends and family of the BT Global Challenge fleet just hours before the start of Leg six.
The 5,820- mile race will take the boats to France. Warm winter sunshine and a fickle breeze blowing from Table Mountain was all that disturbed the crowds gathered at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, as Archbishop Tutu wished the crews 'God Speed' on their race to La Rochelle in France. Schoolchildren from a local school choir then sang to the fleet before the yachts slipped their moorings and headed out to the start line.

As the fleet awaited the start gun to fire, the fickle breeze had picked up offering a north-westerly gusting up to 15 knots. Hundreds of spectator boats, jet-skis and kayaks crowded the start corridor to see Save the Children make a well-timed start to cross the line first. Close behind in a chasing pack were Olympic Group, TeamSpirIT and LG FLATRON with Quadstone making ground after a flying start. At the back of the fleet Norwich Union and Isle of Man made a slower start. But, with 5,820-miles of racing, the good start would represent little more than a deserved morale boost to crews before clever tactics dictate where teams will cross The Doldrums en-route to France.

Quadstone was leading a tight pack of yachts which sailed north past Robben Island before tacking west into the Atlantic Ocean.

As the sun sank towards the horizon, the wind continued to shift and fade. The yachts doused their staysails and traded yankees for genoas. The Challenge teams are expected to be at sea for a month, before arriving in La Rochelle mid-June.
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