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11 May 2005, 12:25 pm
VAIO Edges Ahead
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

VAIO has fought off the challenge from SAIC La Jolla and carved out a 7nm advantage at the top. It is the largest lead at the head of the fleet that any team has developed since SAIC La Jolla was 12nm ahead of Barclays Adventurer over a week ago.

BP Explorer is now in second place and SAIC La Jolla and Spirit of Sark are both 11nm behind VAIO in third and fourth.

Barclays Adventurer has slipped back to eighth place and 31nm behind the leader having decided to move back towards the fleet. Their recent tactical decisions have resulted in more miles sailed tracking across the course so they will be hoping their latest decision ultimately lifts them back up the leaderboard. 'Wind is now gradually filling in,' said skipper Stuart JACKSON (GBR), 'so we have gone on the northern gybe to join the rest of the fleet after losing miles being south. Now staying on making gybe and watching the ITCZ [doldrums] for the best crossing point.'

Andy FORBES (AUS) and his team aboard BG SPIRIT have successfully moved back towards the middle line without sacrificing miles to the finish. In fact they are now in sixth place and 21nm from the leader having made small but significant gains on their way in from the eastern flank.

'BG SPIRIT has made loads of ground and threatens us from the right,' explained BP Explorer's John BASS (GBR) this morning, 'and our constant companions on this leg so far, Spirit of Sark, we can see on the horizon behind us. A new nav light appeared on the horizon to our left overnight - that of Team Stelmar. With this company the stage is set for a battle royal and we are going to have to be an exceptional team to be sure to come out in front of this formidable pack.'

Despite the tension of close quarter sailing in this highly competitive group, BASS went to say that, 'The last 24 hours have been quite exciting, enjoyable and rewarding.' He joins many others reporting on the pleasant conditions of this leg recently, going on to explain the effect it is having on board:

'The sailing is now so much better and we are constantly energized and boosted knowing that we are sailing well. We have been gybing the spinnaker in close to three minutes, a procedure that took in excess of twenty minutes in our early training days.'

'There is a genuine enthusiasm when we go on deck unlike some other legs, namely the southern ocean, where it was an obvious struggle.'

Ricky CHALMERS (RSA) aboard Me to You also mentioned the consequences of blue skies and temperatures of 25ºC and above on the team dynamic, saying, '…the 17 of us aboard our 72 foot steel world are talking, laughing and generally being more human than we were on the Southern Ocean legs … it does start to bind our little society together more substantially than just having a common experiences of being trashed by big waves and having frozen feet and hands.'

Dan Wedgwood. Image, The setting sun from Barclays Adventurer:© Challenge Business
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