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21 October 2005, 04:09 pm
Strong Winds Due
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Round Britain And Ireland Challenge 2005

The Round Britain and Ireland Challenge fleet are now halfway though the race and positions continue to swap daily with Me to You now in second place, with one time leaders SAIC now in third.
Overnight and further back, Samsung and Pindar have been locked in a duelling battle as Pindar mate, Adam TUFFNELL explains, 'Close quarter windless action with Samsung overnight. They took masses from us, but with a little skill we took it all back and left them standing.'

Yesterday the fleet split and the two yachts gambled with a westerly stance, which lead to a huge change from front to back - from four miles to 41 in 24 hours. They have now turned back and made up some miles overnight with Pindar 34 miles back and Samsung 35.

The fleet is currently approaching Muckle Flugga, which they should reach this weekend. Here they will turn south and start heading home, via a few obstacles such as the oilrigs of the North Sea and the traffic separation system around the Dover Straits!

Once again the heavy weather has temporarily abated as Spirit of Sark wrote, 'Scottish weather was nowhere to be seen in this part of the Hebrides; a beautiful sunrise and a visit from a dolphin made this a memorable morning. The afternoon was spent basking in sunshine with a fine array of shorts on show further north than Cape Horn is south!'

Me to You have been analyzing strategies, Corrie MCQUEEN, mate onboard wishing for a crystal ball or some powers of a 'weather guru' to move them into first place, which certainly seems possible now they have claimed second, 'Yesterday we pushed and pushed the boat to try and make as much North as possible and ensure we stayed on the right side of the low pressure system sitting almost on top of us.

'We needed to stay above and to the right of it to get the most from the wind as it veered round to the south east so as not to get stuck out to the north or west. Lots of quick reactions and tactical decisions meant that we managed this by the skin of our teeth! The pressure dropped to 992 millibars, which means that we had the centre of the low pretty much on top of us!'

The low however has pretty much stayed put making for these light and variable winds. MCQUEEN continues, 'For over 24 hours we have been battling it out with Spirit of Sark and SAIC, concentrating intensely to get 45 tons of boat moving faster than the next one. Spirit of Sark has just managed to get away a bit but we are hoping that the time and effort taken to repair our race kite will be worth it and, with a bit of luck we might just manage to pull away from SAIC. It really is incredible that we are so close after six days at sea and really very exciting even though we only have three knots of boat speed! At the moment we need to keep focused and fingers crossed that the weather Gods look down on us favourably!'

Despite the lighter conditions causing frustrations onboard it does bring with it a silver lining for the crews as Martin WILD, skipper of SAIC explains, 'The unseasonable weather gave us all time to recharge our batteries and dry out our wet kit, some even took the chance of a 'shower' - actually a hose out of the tap. It was also the first time that both watches had been on deck together, other than for handover, since we left the Solent and the banter continues apace!'

However, none of the crews can afford to rest on their laurels as north easterlies are due this evening which will mark an end of their easy ride and a delve back into some heavy weather for at least 24 hours.

Pindar is well aware of this as skipper Marcus CHOLERTON explains, 'The weather forecast is for some pretty rough stuff over the next 24 hours, so we have also been preparing for all eventualities, and mentally steeling ourselves for some pretty busy watches as we continue to race whatever the weather. Muckle Flugga here we come!'

Rachel Anning. Image, On watch as dawn arrives on Samsung:© Challenge Business
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