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27 June 2005, 01:13 pm
Team Stelmar Leads Chasing Pack
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

Since yesterday afternoon's poll, the chasing pack, headed by Team Stelmar, have made significant gains on lead yacht SAIC La Jolla.

Team Stelmar are creaming along at an average speed of 10.3 knots - currently the fastest in the fleet - and have also had an impressive 24 hour run of 251 miles.

As crew member Primrose KEENAN writes, 'The last couple of watches have seen a steady 11-14 knots of boat speed and we finally feel like we are getting somewhere.'

The chasing group's position to the north and west of Eero LEHTINEN (FIN) and his team, have allowed them to make the most of a stronger south westerly breeze - most yachts maintaining over ten knots of boat speed - whilst SAIC La Jolla average nearly a knot less.

The racing is still unbelievably close. With only eight miles separating the leading pack, there has been some movement in leaderboard standings overnight: VAIO has moved up from seventh to share fourth place with BP Explorer; Pindar now lies equal sixth with Spirit of Sark whilst Imagine It. Done. has dropped back from fourth to eighth.

Meanwhile, Team Save the Children have made gains on tenth place Barclays Adventurer, but Samsung have dropped back marginally.

Over the next 24 hours, the strong south westerlies look set to veer right round to the north east which will affect the majority of the fleet. There is a possibility that, with their easterly position, SAIC La Jolla could benefit from a continued south westerly air flow.

However, BP Explorer skipper David MELVILLE (GBR) is confident that a northerly position could pay off, 'I feel that over the longer period the northerly placed boats will get a slightly higher average wind speed that those [such as SAIC La Jolla] in the south.'

'It is extremely close, we must not make any mistakes, and we must await a period of variability which we may be able to exploit to our advantage.'

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Some of the team onboard Team Stelmar:© Challenge Business
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