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13 May 2005, 03:53 pm
Atlantic Racing Continues At A Furious Pace
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

Only 41 miles separate the first eight yachts in the fleet, some of which are still within sight of one another and spurring each other on as they head towards the equator.
Wind speeds have picked up, boosting average boat speeds up to ten and a half knots, allowing the yachts to make some tremendous daily runs.

BG SPIRIT claims the highest 24 hour run of 250 miles, their consistently strong performance has propelled them into second place, now only nine miles behind leading yacht VAIO.

During the night Me To You pushed past SAIC La Jolla to claim third place, but had dropped back to fifth by this afternoon. Despite this blip, spirits are high as the team enjoys life at the front of the fleet, 'it is fantastic to be in such close quarters with the other boats' writes Me To You core crew, Nicola PATERSON (GBR) in her log.

It may be a long ocean leg but the racing on the water is as furious as a short match race, as Pindar crewmember Paul SCOTT (GBR) describes, 'Boats are darting about and positions are changing rapidly. We have been sailing hard - muscles ache from trimming spinnakers, eyes cast over anyone who tries to winch the easy way - but we still cannot reclaim the miles. Frustration is not the word!'

Building wind speeds increase the prospect of sail damage and last night saw Team Stelmar in trouble whilst flying their race spinnaker, which sustained a massive rip. 'The tear is enormous,' writes crewmember Susan LYONS (GBR), 'and will literally take hours of work to repair.'

Despite having to run a round-the-clock repair operation, Team Stelmar have not lost their racing focus, as LYONS writes, 'Tactically we are heading as far west as we can in order to reach and cross the Doldrums as soon as possible. Although this might mean that we drop back in our fleet position for the moment, it will hopefully give us the advantage of crossing the windless zone first.'

If the yachts maintain their current pace, the teams could be looking at crossing the equator in the next few days.

Kate Hayler, BP Explorer on the tail of Spirit of Sark :© Challenge Business
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