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10 May 2005, 05:11 pm
VAIO Takes The Lead
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

The passage past St. Helena overnight has brought yet another change at the top of the table. VAIO is now in first with a narrow advantage of 1nm over second place SAIC La Jolla.

VAIO was in third yesterday afternoon, 6nm behind the leader with Spirit of Sark, BP Explorer and Me to You close behind them on the water. However they have held off the competition successfully and overtaken SAIC La Jolla and Team Stelmar to claim the top spot which they have held on to through the day.

Barclays Adventurer's move to the west has cost them in the short term - they are in sixth place and 17nm behind the lead. Perhaps a westerly position will benefit them eventually, but for now it is BG SPIRIT out to the east who continue to see the rewards of their position.

They made an incredible 30nm on the leaders in a short period three days ago and have been edging forward since. In the last 24 hours their gains have slowed bu they have still picked up about 5nm on the teams to the west who will be watching them closely. Although they bring up the rear of the leading pack of eight yachts, that pack is only separated by 22nm in terms of distance to finish and the biggest margin between two yachts is just 6nm, the smallest 1nm.

The four yachts placed ninth to twelfth are now between 61nm and 148nm behind, many hoping the doldrums provide an opportunity to catch up. Ninth place Samsung headed west with SAIC La Jolla and Barclays Adventurer and attribute their recent performance to the lack of two spinnakers as both 1.5oz spinnakers are currently under repair.

'We are all obviously disappointed to be lower down in the fleet,' wrote Samsumg core crew, Jon READER (GBR) yesterday evening, 'but there is still a long way to go in this leg, especially as the doldrums still await. We are hoping this will upset the fleet and redress the balance but it can go either way.'

Twelfth place Team Save the Children are also obviously disappointed with their position, also attributed to spinnaker damage, which severely weakens the sail armoury in downwind conditions such as these.

'We are well and truly at the back of the fleet at the moment,' wrote core crew, Anthony CAMPBELL (GBR), 'and I don't think there is any point in trying to hide our frustration and disappointment at our current position. With all the work that is required to keep our spinnakers in one piece we have gradually been losing ground.'

'The consolation for us,' he continued, 'is that we know exactly why we are losing ground. When you are falling behind with no obvious reason to explain why, it can be even more frustrating.'

Dan Wedgwood (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Leader VAIO in full spinnaker mode:© Challenge Business
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