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28 June 2005, 02:51 pm
From 20 Knots Downwind To 20 Knots Upwind
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

"From 20 knots wind speed heading downwind to 20 knots heading upwind." Spirit of Sark's Ellen COOMBER described the rapid change of conditions overnight that have brought 24 hours of continuous rain.

'The wind suddenly backed to a northerly direction and increased in strength,' wrote Julian SMITH from Team Stelmar this morning, 'meaning a quick change from spinnaker to Yankee and Staysail, our upwind sail combination, followed by a change to Yankee No. 2 and two reefs in the main.'

Team Stelmar have adapted to the shifts well though, reporting a lead of 2nm over second place SAIC La Jolla this morning. 'Over 33,700 miles under the keen,' continued SMITH, 'and we are still belting along fighting for those podium positions as if this were a weekend race in the Solent.'

VAIO's Kat WARD agreed, describing this leg as, 'far more like 'round the cans' inshore racing than a great ocean voyage.' However, while leg six is relatively short compared to marathons such as the previous leg from Cape Town, South Africa to Boston, USA the fleet still has approximately 1,400nm to run before crossing the finish line. And current conditions may be affording average speeds of almost ten knots in some cases, but the estimated time of arrival has been pushed back by the calmer conditions earlier in the leg.

If current speeds are maintained the majority of the fleet will arrive on the 5 July, but it is more likely that the first yacht will arrive in the early hours of the 6 July followed closely by the fleet throughout the day. The estimate is weather dependant of course and subject to change as the fleet approaches La Rochelle on the west coast of France.

Joining Team Stelmar in a positive and upbeat report to race HQ is Team Save the Children. Frustrated with their position at the back of the fleet at the beginning of the leg, today's report demonstrates how important the recent gains are to a team determined to finish further up the leaderboard.

'It's been a pretty extraordinary day,' wrote Anthony CAMPBELL (Campo). 'By our calculations, we are currently in seventh position - a pretty good 24 hours all in all, from eleventh to seventh in one fell swoop.

'It just seems that we found some favourable wind just to the south of the pack ahead of us,' continued CAMPBELL, 'and sailed rapidly underneath them. Indeed, we had no idea we had made up so much ground until through the mist in a light patch Paul [KELLY, skipper] suddenly noticed three yachts off the port side - BP Explorer, BG SPIRIT and Spirit of Sark.'

'The visibility was very poor and all three yachts couldn't have been more than a couple of miles away. If they had their binoculars out they would have seen the whole starboard watch jumping up and down with big grins on their faces giving each other high fives!'

Dan Wedgwood (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The mid Atlantic match race - as seen from VAIO:© Challenge Business
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