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15 May 2005, 08:47 am
Surfing To Boston
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Cape Town, RSA - Boston, USA

Since yesterday morning's poll, BG SPIRIT have begun to pull away from the pack. They now hold a 13 mile advantage over second place BP Explorer and, had the best boat speed of the fleet at this morning's poll. Yet again, Andy FORBES and his team have also recorded the best 24 hour run of 269 miles.
In second place this time yesterday, VAIO have slipped down the leaderboard to fourth, seventeen miles behind BG Spirit and equal to SAIC La Jolla.

Meanwhile Spirit of Sark and Me To You are battling it out for fifth place - just two miles separates them in terms of distance to finish. Samsung is making gains on Imagine It. Done. but both Pindar and Team Save the Children are struggling to maximise boat speed at the back of the fleet.

Currently, the teams are experiencing winds upwards of 28 knots - Team Stelmar reporting a top wind speed in the last 24 hours of 30.1 knots. However, sail plans vary across the fleet: the majority of yachts are flying (not necessarily through choice) full main with poled-out headsails, whilst BG SPIRIT, Team Stelmar, SAIC La Jolla and Samsung are flying full main and 2.2 oz spinnakers. BG SPIRIT have the highest recorded boat speed of 19 knots prompting skipper Andy FORBES to note that they are 'surfing to Boston.'

The teams all appear to be enjoying the furious downwind ride, 'the exhilaration of surfing down massive ocean rollers is far superior to the barrack-room humour of the cockpit' writes Samsung crewmember Martin FEAR. However, SAIC La Jolla skipper Eero LEHTINEN reports, 'the line between under and out of control is so fine that it's impossible to say how close we have been, but close anyway. Most of the time we feel that we are either on the wrong gybe or we should drop the kite, and when it's down we feel that we should go for the hoist. Last time I had a relaxed sleep was probably five days ago!'

BP Explorer skipper David MELVILLE also shares his concern with pushing the yacht to the limit, 'Two weeks of sustained downwind sailing - often in strong (25-30 knot) winds - are starting to take their toll on the yacht. We are constantly on the lookout for chafe and potential equipment breakage. This morning the shackle securing the spinnaker block to the top of the mast broke. Fortunately no-one was hurt and we were able to drop, pack and re-hoist the spinnaker on the other halyard in less than 20 mins.'

Despite approaching the predicted light winds of the doldrums, the sleigh ride looks set to continue with the southeasterly tradewinds building in speed over the next 24 hours.

Kate Hayler (As Amended by ISAF)
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