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23 May 2005, 03:59 pm
VAIO Storms Up Leaderboard Overnight
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

After just over three weeks at sea, the intensely close racing continues in the middle of the Atlantic with only 17 miles separating the top seven yachts on the leaderboard in terms of distance to finish.
Yesterday afternoon, Amedeo SORRENTINO (ITA) and his team onboard VAIO were lying in seventh place, but their position to the west of the fleet has paid dividends enabling them to sail a knot faster than most of the other yachts over the last 24 hours. Consequently the team have seen their position on the leaderboard improve dramatically overnight, as crewmember Kat WARD (GBR) describes, 'we are storming back up, making miles on the leaders. This means we've made up five miles in one day, damn fine work if you ask me, but we're still looking for more.'

As of this morning's poll, VAIO had moved up four places into third place only five miles behind second place SAIC La Jolla, with BP Explorer still holding a four mile lead. Whether the team are able to further capitalise on their gains will depend on how they deal with approaching weather systems.

Looking at what the weather has in store for the fleet, Challenge Business Sailing Manager, Cal TOMLINSON said, 'The low pressure system sitting off the east coast of the USA over the weekend is now moving eastward and will begin to be more of an influence on general North Atlantic weather.'

'It will not influence the fleet directly just yet but is causing the North Atlantic [Azores] High to retreat north and east, therefore the fleet can expect much more variable conditions over the next three days.'

With the top half of the fleet so close together after three weeks of racing, and Spirit of Sark, Team Stelmar and Barclays Adventurer still in sight of each other, keeping fully focussed on racing is crucial, with all-important points on the overall leaderboard at stake.

With Spirit of Sark currently lying in seventh place in leg five but second place overall, crewmember Mick MORAN (GBR) writes, 'with our position being so close to other boats, and with BP Explorer and BG SPIRIT being further up the leaderboard, the pressure is really on to maintain our concentration. We watch the radar constantly to monitor how we are doing against the boats just ahead of us. Every small gain or loss is avidly noted.'

Likewise on Team Stelmar 'the team spirit is very competitive indeed ' notes crewmember Susan LYONS (GBR). 'We are all too aware of the position of other yachts around us. At the moment we have BP Explorer just forward of us, Spirit of Sark just behind us and Barclays Adventurer on our port side and slightly behind us.'

'The first thing that we all do after waking is to enquire about the schedule and our position. On deck these other three yachts are just about visible and this has the effect of increasing our determination to either keep ahead of them or catch up with them.'

With just over 2,000 miles to go to the finish in Boston, the teams will no doubt be pushing themselves all the way, which will make for some exciting and highly competitive racing over the next week.

Kate Hayler. Image, VAIO are currently the hot boat in the fleet:© onEdition
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