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9 February 2005, 09:32 am
SAIC La Jolla Move Into First Place
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Wellington, NZL - Sydney, AUS

SAIC La Jolla skipper Eero LEHTINEN said in an interview yesterday that he thought there would be benefits sailing south of the fleet. Despite seeing the majority of the fleet head further north, the team maintained their southerly position and have now stolen first place from VAIO.
As the most southerly team, the southwesterly breeze may have given them the edge since this morning - but now the wind has dropped and veered round to the north-northwest.

This afternoon, Stuart JACKSON, skipper of Barclays Adventurer and James ALLEN, skipper of Me to You, called in and said the wind had shifted to almost due north. However, average boat speeds plummeted today from 7 to 3 knots, meaning the teams are working hard on maintaining every possible bit of boat speed.

James ALLEN said: "We've been fighting just to keep the boat going in 2-3 knots of wind at times so it has been really hard work for the crew." He went on to describe the wind slowly moving around to the north and is expecting the breeze to build to around 20-25 in approximately two days.

"It's been quite a tough night," said Stuart JACKSON this afternoon, "the wind died off completely and we were going along at less than a knot for quite a few hours, but it's slowly filled in and we're going along at around 7-8 knots. We're looking alright, we can see around 8 boats at the moment so it's quite exciting!"

The top ten yachts are now sailing in a crescent formation, with SAIC La Jolla at its southern tip and VAIO at the top, with just 6nm separating the top eleven teams! Pindar has started reeling the fleet back in, now 16nm behind the lead.

Now that the wind has shifted round to just shy of north, the fleet is playing the waiting game, all knowing that a healthy breeze of 20 knots or more from the northwest is on its way.

Anthony CAMPBELL (Campo) wrote in from Team Save the Children today, noting that positions are so close it becomes difficult for the yachts to accurately determine their fleet position: As I write we have Samsung, Spirit of Sark, and Me To You trailing in our wake. We have been playing cat and mouse with Samsung all day and have successfully held them off so far. At the moment it looks like we are in sixth position, but it's so tight that positions can change by the minute."

Skipper Paul KELLY said in Wellington that Team Save the Children's goal is a place in the top half of the fleet, so they will no doubt be happy with their current position in sixth and just 5nm behind first place SAIC La Jolla.

Leg Two winners Spirit of Sark are unaccustomed to their current position towards the back of the fleet and even seem a little bemused, but the margins between teams are so slim the deficit could be easily regained over the coming days. "The mood on board is a little downbeat as we are down in the ratings and positions," wrote Jason McLEOD. 'Our position in the last schedule was way down the fleet 10th or worse! BP Explorer and BG SPIRIT and VAIO have temporarily got ahead. I say temporarily because we are trying our best to catch up. We're not sure why this should be so because we are working as hard on deck as we always do … Whatever, it's down to us to get it sorted."

While time is short on this leg, all twelve teams are still very much in contention with around 865nm to go and 16nm separating the first and last yacht.

Dan Wedgewood (As Amended by ISAF)
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