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20 January 2005, 12:34 pm
Team Stelmar Finishes
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Wellington, New Zealand

Team Stelmar crossed the finish line of Leg Two in Wellington, New Zealand at 10:08:26 GMT. Local time it wa late evening and The Dockside bar was full of Stelmar's happy friends and supporters, many of whom have been waiting in there for several hours.
The team's eventful leg has really caught the hearts of New Zealanders and there were plenty of locals also lining the docks.

The next sprint leg to Sydney starts on the 6 February and the fleet is expected to cross the finish line just eight days later. Far from the Southern Ocean passage that required long-term determination and tactical foresight, this will be an intense dash for the line from the moment the gun goes off.

The start itself will be a spectacle for the thousands of spectators expected - the line stretches out to sea off the Heads, just outside Wellington Harbour. After jostling for position in the start box and aiming to cross the line just as the start gun fires for the third time, the fleet will race into the harbour itself and round a series of marks before heading back out to continue their course to Australia.

And once the race is underway the stakes will be high. Mistakes will be severely punished, as close-quarter racing is almost a certainty - any tactical gains, or blunders, could have a dramatic effect on the finishing positions.

After arriving in Wellington, Eero LEHTINEN, skipper of SAIC La Jolla, was asked whether the shorter sprint leg and intense competition expected would prompt any changes or modifications in the team preparations.

"That's one of the things,' he said, 'and it's maybe a good opportunity to change things around a little bit and see how it works on this leg and maybe look at the rest of the race after that experience. It's definitely going to be a completely different natured leg."

He went on to highlight that their pattern of performance in the first two legs will not suit the dash to Sydney, so a revised and focused psychological approach will be necessary to overturn the form guide: "Our problem is that we've had two long legs now and we had a pretty modest start to both of them and a quite poor finish. We had about 3 weeks in between where we were doing quite well. For this leg, those three weeks are completely missing! We have to come out with some new assets and be on the ball straight from the beginning onwards."

Team Save the Children skipper Paul KELLY was also asked if he will be doing anything differently in the run up to leg three: "No I don't really think we'll change anything drastically," he replied. "We've had a bit of a reshuffle of watches over the last leg and it worked really well, so I think it would be foolish to change that now, having had a good result, so essentially it's going to stay the same. The crew are well aware of what we need to do to improve; we'll have a look at that when everyone gets back from holiday. I think we've got every chance of doing a bit better in the next leg."

But Paul does not define the target as simply 'better'; we asked him whether his overall objectives for the race had changed having got two legs under his belt and he seems in positive mood: "Our objectives were always to be in the top six. Obviously in the first leg we had an absolute shocker; we've learned our lesson from that. Some of it was bad luck, some of it was our fault. This leg we've come back, we've shown what we're capable of. It's given the crew confidence in themselves, and confidence in everyone else on the team to know that a top 6 position is where we should be, the goal now is just to make sure we achieve that all the time, every leg. We were much better on this leg at looking after the equipment and looking after each other and it really worked. We were much more efficient than in the first leg. So the goal will be top six, we can always reassess our goals later on if we get better, but top 6 is realistic at this stage."

Event Media (As Amended by ISAF), Image: © Richard Parsons
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