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18 May 2005, 12:09 pm
Light Winds Hold Up The Leading Pack
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

BG SPIRIT has moved into first place but significant gains by chasing teams make their position fragile. Now the wind is dying, boat speeds are down to an average of five knots and while progress towards Boston, USA is painfully slow, behind the leaders significant chunks of mileage have been reclaimed at lightning pace.

Spirit of Sark has shot from fifth place and 31nm behind the lead up to second place just behind first place BG SPIRIT. Former leader BP Explorer has suffered the opposite fortune, slipping from first place yesterday afternoon to fourth place this morning.

The top five teams remain the same, but each one has seen their position within the leading group change. BP Explorer and VAIO were the unfortunate two that slipped the wrong way down the fleet standings.

And they will do well to avoid any further losses in the light winds with the three teams placed sixth, seventh and eighth closing in. Team Stelmar, Barclays Adventurer and Me to You were between 57 and 63nm behind the leading yacht yesterday, but have all made up well over 30nm overnight.

The teams in the final third of the leaderboard enjoyed the largest gains. Placed ninth to twelfth and between 139 and 202nm off the pace yesterday, they have all taken staggering chunks out of their respective distances to the fleet leader. In the period from yesterday afternoon's poll to this morning, it was eleventh place Pindar that made the largest gains, taking a 61nm bite out of their deficit.

Skipper of first place BG SPIRIT, Andy FORBES (AUS), is obviously happy to come out at the front today, but points at the large gains made by those closest as a serious danger. He is hoping that second place Spirit of Sark, out to the west, are not travelling significantly faster this morning.

'We're in that transition zone now,' he said this morning, 'bang in the middle of the doldrums. We had some squalls come through last night but we haven't come out of it quite as well as would have liked. The middle pack of boats has taken about 20-30 miles of us.'

Commenting on the likely duration of the light and unreliable conditions he said, 'We're monitoring the ITCZ ... there's conflicting information at the moment with the satellite images we're getting from the UK and French offices but if we could push through in 36 hours that would be fantastic. Bu it could be longer, it depends how much it moves north or south - it could be over by this afternoon but I very much doubt it.'

Dan Wedgwood. Image, Work on board the leader, BG SPIRIT:© Challenge Business
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