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3 May 2005, 12:11 pm
SAIC La Jolla Out West And Out In Front
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

The fleet has begun to fan out as they leave the shores of Cape Town, South Africa heading towards Boston, USA on Leg 5 of the Global Challenge. Formerly in first, Team Stelmar is now in fourth as yesterday's leading trio has been usurped by SAIC La Jolla and Samsung overnight.
Yesterday afternoon Eero LEHTINEN (FIN), skipper of SAIC La Jolla said they were, 'Trying to stick with the front runners [Spirit of Sark, Team Stelmar and BP Explorer] on our starboard beam, not willing to go much further west than them. In anticipation of lighter winds from the west tomorrow onwards, we are positioning ourselves between stronger winds further east and our set rhumbline course towards the Islands of Sao Paulo.'

However, SAIC La Jolla, along with Samsung have continued to head further west than the main pack, and taken the lead in the process. As the fleet spreads out, so the margins between the teams start to gradually increase, but still only a few miles separates the leading yachts. Forthcoming variable weather and lighter winds could easily change the fortunes of the yachts depending on the positioning and tactical decisions playing out on the water now.

'Some [teams are] south sailing rhumbline, some are edging further north,' wrote Team Stelmar skipper, Clive COSBY (GBR). 'Interestingly, it seems to be the same boats following the same tactics; conservative versus the radical approach. We favour the 'conservative, down the middle, keep on the pace and watch out for opportunities' approach. It worked on Leg 4, and it is how we are approaching Leg 5.'

Although the winds will reduce in strength, overnight the teams were poled out and barrelling along. 'We have had some great downwind sailing overnight goose winging with the poled out Yankee No. 1, full main and staysail,' explained Ruth NEWTON (GBR), Team Stelmar Crew Volunteer. 'The wind has been gusting up to 34 knots and there is some swell running on so we are managing the occasional surf of up to 15 knots boat speed.'

And those conditions have been making life difficult for some of the Crew Volunteers. The pitching and rolling motion of the yacht makes life on board uncomfortable initially and for leggers, who are racing for the first time and lack the 13,000 miles experience of the Core Crew, it can take a little longer to settle in.

'The only issue that I have had so far is difficulty sleeping - mainly due to the rolling motion from the big following seas,' wrote Spirit of Sark legger Andy ROBINSON (GBR) today, 'but I am sure that I will soon adapt.'

'We have just begun to feel human again after the lack of sleep always experienced during the first days at sea,' echoed Barclays Adventurer Core Crew Volunteer Mel SCHOFIELD (GBR), 'while our bodies and minds get accustomed to the watch system.' But Mel went on to say she is already feeling very positive about the sailing and conditions ahead, 'I can tell I am going to love this leg. We have had either a kite up or poled out headsails with the wind behind us since the start. Helming in these conditions is always much more fun than slogging upwind. During the pressure and excitement of keeping the kite full of wind I sometimes have to remind myself to breathe - my mind is just too busy!'

Dan Wedgwood (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Spirit of Sark, Stelmar and SAIC on the horizon:© Challenge Business
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