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6 May 2005, 03:31 pm
Awaiting the South East Trades
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Cape Town, RSA to Boston, USA

A better night for most of the fleet, with good 24-hour runs made in the lightish winds. The variations in breeze and decision-making have shaken up the leaderboard once again, with the gainers being the central group once more, although the yachts that have positioned themselves slightly further north have made the biggest gains.
Team Stelmar is once again in the top spot but Barclays Adventurer behind them in second has also had a fantastic night, both yachts taking three places out of their rivals. BP Explorer is dead level with Barclays Advenurer 6nm behind Team Stelmar.

As they move further into the tropics, as indicated by air temperatures and sea temperatures at between 22 and 25°C, there is a need for the skippers to keep the crew focussed. There is potential for the tedium to set in and cause friction onboard, this will manifest itself more and more should the weather get lighter. This makes this the toughest leg on the skippers by a long shot.

Unlike the first leg where everyone started off on a level platform with no scores, there are a lot of yachts there with a lot to lose, and several with a lot to gain. And in the lighter conditions skippers will always suffer from paranoia that someone has more wind than they do.

Dee CAFFARI agrees in her log today 'So with no excuses and no injuries, we as skippers have to keep the crew concentrating and motivated for the remaining 6000 miles of this leg.'

'They [the crew] trim the spinnaker and keep the yacht moving at all costs but it is difficult to sustain the focus when sailing at three knots boat speed.'

This reality seems not to have hit Samsung yet 'It's been amazing how a move from the Southern Ocean to the Atlantic has changed the mood on Samsung. We are once again an upbeat team, talking and laughing all the time' says Dean APPS, 54-year-old retired actuary from Wellington, obviously enjoying the better weather.

But David MELVILLE on BP Explorer seems already to be feeling the pressures of leadership and his own management style, especially when waiting for the 6-hourly position reports 'It's tempting to sit like a bear with a sore head, or roam the boat making observations about how the crew might sail the boat faster. But the crew hate this and have told me at numerous debriefs. It has often proved a mistake to voice my concerns to crewmembers, as this seems to have a bigger negative effect on their morale than the positive effect on my own! '

At present, looking at the reports coming into the Race HQ, it looks as if the easterly position of BG SPIRIT and Imagine It. Done. may be finally paying some dividends. Imagine It. Done. is presently reporting a speed of nine knots in 15 knots of breeze under flanker, whilst Spirit of Sark, further to the west in the central group, is reporting just 6 knots boatspeed with 10knots of wind, broad reaching under 1.5oz spinnaker.

Andy FORBES aboard BG SPIRIT agrees, 'The last 12 hours has seen our northerly position begin to pay off - the next 36 hours will be critical.'

Paul KELLY describes the current tactics for Team Save the Children, 'We are trying to stay East of the high pressure system and waiting for breeze to increase from the South East. Starting to make some straight-line distance to the Equator without going too far west into edge of the high pressure.'

Looking at the weather forecast, the wind is set to increase significantly from the southeast, directly behind many of the yachts. All the yachts will be hoping that this signals the start of the steadier and stronger South East Tradewinds. But the fleet wants to avoid being forced any further east, as this would position the yachts with the trades directly behind them - a slow point of sail for these yachts.
Kerry Dye (As Amended by ISAF), Image: © Challenge Business
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