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12 May 2005, 12:38 pm
Advantage Swings To The East
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

VAIO have doubled their lead since yesterday afternoon, grinding out a 14nm advantage over SAIC La Jolla. BP Explorer, Team Stelmar and Spirit of Sark were in third, fourth and fifth respectively yesterday, but BG SPIRIT and Me to You, both just to the east of VAIO, have moved into third and fourth this morning.
While VAIO have edged ahead, both teams have maintained the same distance of 20nm that currently keeps them from first place. All the other teams in the leading group lost out overnight, some up to 10nm.

'We have just had a bad position report in - tough reading,' writes Rachel JONES (GBR) aboard Spirit of Sark today. 'Most of the fleet have taken good chunks of mileage out of us (including Me To You). We think it is because of the squalls that we have been sailing through all morning.'

'Squalls can be good or bad depending on which side of them you are,' she continues, 'the downside of squalls is that as well as a windy side they have a 'no wind' side where you can find yourself wallowing around in very little wind while within sight you can watch another boat simply sail away from you.'

Yesterday SAIC La Jolla and BG SPIRIT both espoused the benefits of their respective positions on either side of the fleet, but this morning's position reports indicate a distinct advantage for the eastern camp. However, fortunes change and the upper hand can swing back. BP Explorer skipper David MELVILLE (GBR) writes about the fleet's progress in a report to race HQ today:

'The fleet is spread out over a 100 mile line northeast to southwest and the southeasterly trade winds blow more or less dead astern through this broad area. Inevitably there are variations in wind strengths and boats move forward and back depending upon what they find. You would not expect the wind in Southampton and Cherbourg to be the same all the time and so it is in the ocean.'

'Over the long run you hope that the winds even out their favours across the whole area, but at present I have a feeling that the north end of the line is doing slightly better.'

Dan Wedgwood. Image, Me to You from the masthead:© Challenge Business
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