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26 May 2005, 02:38 pm
All Change At The Top
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

A tactical fight in light and fickle winds has played havoc with the Global Challenge leaderboard overnight. SAIC La Jolla have completed their westerly move towards the main pack, but ended up in third place, 6nm behind the new leader, BP Explorer.
Yesterday afternoon they were in first with an 18nm cushion so this morning's position report will be a blow to Eero LEHTINEN (FIN) and his team.

However BP Explorer is not the only team to have seen their leaderboard position change rapidly for the better overnight. The leading western group have also all seen the mileage between themselves and first place slashed overnight, except VAIO. Team Stelmar, Spirit of Sark and Barclays Adventurer have gained 30-40nm since yesterday afternoon, but VAIO has lost 11nm.

'Crossing our path between here and Boston is a huge area of no wind slowing our progress substantially,' wrote VAIO's Ben BEASLEY today, 'and re-jigging the positions once more and certainly not for the last time … The net result for VAIO is a disappointing days sailing that sees us slide down the leader board to seventh and around 50 miles back from the current leaders.'

Eighth place Me to You has suffered a similar fate: 'After some days of windy weather,' reports Thomas SPAUN, 'we have now hit a true wind hole, meaning less than five knots of wind, perfect sunshine and the Caribbean blue sea around us.'

BG SPIRIT skipper Andy FORBES (AUS) explained yesterday that he was happy with his position to the east of the main pack, despite looking increasingly lonely, but this morning they too have lost out. In terms of distance to the leader, they have only lost 4nm, but crucially, the movements at the top of the table are such that this is enough to see them slip from second to sixth place.

To make matters worse for skippers and navigators already contending with the unpredictability of the light conditions, boat speeds vary widely this morning despite teams' proximity to one another on the water. For example, SAIC La Jolla was just a few miles from Barclays Adventurer at the time of this morning's position report, but reported an average speed for the preceding six hours of just 1.8 knots. Barclays Adventurer, on the other hand, boasted an average of 5.2 knots, so the next position reports may well see further changes at the top and prompt further tactical wranglings across the fleet during this critical stage.

Dan Wedgwood. Image, New leaders, BP Explorer:© onEdition
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