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7 February 2005, 03:14 pm
VAIO's Move To The North Puts Them In First
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Auckland, New Zealand

At 0144 GMT as the fleet made its way out of the Cook Strait and into the Tasman Sea, five teams were fighting for the lead as they passed the aptly named Cape Farewell, all within 1nm of one another in terms of distance to finish.
This morning VAIO's move to the north of the track seems to have paid off. They have been gradually climbing further north of the fleet since early yesterday evening, and now lie approximately 23nm north of southern-most yacht, SAIC La Jolla and around 16nm north of nearest rival, second placed BG SPIRIT, who are only 1nm behind.

Barclays Adventurer, BP Explorer and SAIC La Jolla are all 3nm further back, followed by Team Save the Children, Imagine It. Done. and Spirit of Sark all just 1nm behind them.

Samsung and Me to You are next in ninth and tenth respectively but both reporting to be just 1nm further back again at 6nm off the pace. Team Stelmar are 7nm behind VAIO in eleventh and twelfth placed Pindar trail by 10nm. Today the fleet is experiencing around 10 knots from the north, and conditions have been comfortable compared to the Southern Ocean, with a flat sea and pleasant sailing environment reported.

"All the boats have been sailing flat out," said Dee CAFFARI in an interview this morning, "we've been in sight of at least ten of the other boats since we left the harbour yesterday afternoon, we've had some great weather and it's fantastic to get going again." Imagine It. Done. has been flying a full main and genoa (largest headsail) since yesterday morning, when the wind dropped. "We actually had somebody up the top of the mast this morning," continued Dee, "calling us through the patchy areas so that we didn't sail into any quiet bits because the fleet are that close together, things like that make all the difference."

Dee agrees with VAIO that a northerly position will be the most advantageous in light of the forecast:

"At the moment it's looking like it's going to be quite light, with some southerly winds. After that it should fill in from the north and we should have quite a strong north-westerly breeze, but that won't get to us 'til Wednesday morning [Tuesday evening on GMT]. When we get that strong north-westerly it's going to be very difficult to stay north of the track.

"Coming into Sydney, one place you want to stay is north of the Heads," she added, "because you've got the East Australian Current taking you south at quite a strong rate. We'll be using the next couple of days to come up as high as possible, so that when the north-westerly fills in with some pace we can just head off and enjoy the ride."

Skipper of SAIC La Jolla Eero LEHTINEN, on the other hand, has decided to take a more southerly course. "We are quite happy to be on the left hand side [south] of the track," he said. " We believe the wind should be shifting tonight … but also halfway to Sydney there should be a benefit being a bit further south."

For Team Stelmar's skipper Clive COSBY, it's all about "staying down the middle and boat speed, boat speed, boat speed! Now we're sailing straight down the line as fast as we can towards Sydney."

And Team Save the Children skipper Paul KELLY agrees with Clive: "Staying on the rhumb line as this leg is so short that any tactical error will be unrecoverable," reported Paul this morning. "Looks like the light breeze will continue and we are expecting a shift sometime in the next few hours round to the southwest. Covering the fleet and eking out every last ounce of boat speed."

Due to the nature of the leg, it will not be long before the leaderboard positions demonstrate who has made the wisest move.
Dan Wedgewood (As Amended by ISAF)
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