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23 May 2005, 11:33 am
GOLDING Steals A March On The Fleet
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Calais Round Britain Race 2005

Credited with the overall lead in the Calais Round Britain Race, Mike GOLDING (GBR) and his ECOVER crew have used their guile and knowledge of the British coast to full effect in recent hours to make a small jump on the fleet.
The most recent position poll of the seven boat fleet shows ECOVER to with a 14.4 mile lead over Jean LE CAM's (FRA) Bonduelle, profiting most recently from their astute use of the tidal relief and eddies off Portland on Great Britain's Dorset coast.

The crew's main strategic concern is the whereabouts of Sill & Veolia, which has dropped out of the picture after being reported to have lost both her Sat C and Iridium phone antennae when they were ripped off by wayward reefing line while they were leading.

'The last time we saw her was when we were passing the Owers when she tacked away offshore. Certainly from what we have done and seen happening recently then I can't believe that we have lost anything to anyone at the moment,' reported the skipper. 'We have been on the favoured tack most of the time and have had a nice sluice from the tide under Portland. I am a little concerned that we are the most right hand boat and the wind is forecast to shift to the left, but otherwise we are fine. All's well. It was a pretty rough old night and we spent most of it with two reefs and a staysail, but now we are up to just one reef and the Solent. It was pretty blustery with a few shifts in direction, which was a little surprising because it was relatively clear skies, but overall it was pretty stable around the mean (average) wind direction.'

'The guys are all pretty happy at the moment because we've got the bacon and black pudding frying. We are going to have to take some pain as we head back out offshore to catch the first of the new tide and no doubt we'll lose some of that gain, but we're pretty happy with how it's going.'

Testament to the bumpy, blustery conditions Emma RICHARDS' (GBR) Pindar Alphagraphics retired early this morning with a number of gear failures including a deck pad eye and Solent headsail.

As forecast, the wind is going to strengthen and the seas are going to build over the next few hours. The crews will have a difficult time upwind to escape the Channel. The 'reward' will be that they will be able to open up their sails with a more favourable wind slightly before the passage of Bishop Rock. Broad-reaching in 40 knots of wind and heavy seas: it is going to be very lively.

Today the competitors in the Calais Round Britain Race will be tackling the second half of the Channel as they make towards the first important passage mark of the course, Bishop Rock lighthouse, Isles of Scilly off the south west tip of Great Britain. They are likely to reach it in the early hours of Tuesday. Around 20 knots of west southwesterly wind will last throughout the day today, strengthening as it backs round to the southwest in the evening.

It will be a rough night with 25-35 knots, gusting to 40 with rain and above all heavy seas.

The good news is that the wind will gradually back round into the south. After some difficult hours of beating in the heavy weather up to the Scillies, the crews will be able to ease the sheets and sail onto a rapid broad reach towards Ireland and the famous Fastnet. The winds and the sea will remain strong before the situation eases at the start of Tuesday night.

However, a new depression over the West of Ireland is forecast on Wednesday with a building southerly wind, with the possibility of gales.

Positions
(At 0954 hours GMT)

  1. Ecover, Mike GOLDING (GBR) - 1,637.0 miles from the finish
  2. Bonduelle, Jean LE CAM (FRA) - 14.4 miles behind the leader
  3. Virbac-Paprec, Jean Pierre DICK (FRA) - 17.1 miles behind the leader
  4. Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard STAMM (SUI) - 23.9 miles behind the leader
  5. Caen La Mer, Jean Baptiste DEJEANTY (FRA) - 40.9 miles behind the leader
  6. Sill & Veolia, Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) - Not located
  7. Pindar Alphagraphics, Emma RICHARDS (GBR) - Abandoned
Event Media/Andi Robertson (As Amended By ISAF). Image, ECOVER in the Exhibition Race:© Mike Golding Yacht Racing
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