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11 February 2005, 02:13 pm
Still Nothing In It At The Top
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Sydney, Australia

Team Stelmar has overtaken Spirit of Sark by 3nm to lead the fleet which is now just over 270nm from the finish line.The wind is epected to continue shifting round to the west-southwest and there really is nothing in it for the front runners who are expected into Sydney late Sunday night (GMT).
The teams are now roughly split into three groups - VAIO and Imagine It. Done. are north of the pack, sailing abreast of one another approximately 30nm northwest of the main pack. However, they are nearer the rhumb line route into Sydney Harbour, so in terms of distance to finish they are only 15 and 16nm behind the leader in ninth and tenth respectively.

The pack of nine yachts that includes leader Team Stelmar and twelfth place Pindar, is still only separated by 18nm after more than 900nm of racing. BP Explorer has joined the fray in the main pack, leaving BG SPIRIT about 12nm south of the bunch as the most southerly team. They will be hoping for any advantage as the most southerly team to materialise soon with such little time left.

As shown in the diagram, the high-pressure system that formed to west of Tasmania has been tracking east and the wind has started to veer to the southwest as a result. At present the yachts are experiencing 15 knots or less, compared with 25 knots or more last night, but as the breeze continues to shift round to the west-southwest it should build in strength once again.

Andy FORBES and the crew of BG SPIRIT will certainly be hoping for the wind to fill in from the south, so that he can take advantage of his southerly position and move north on a fast point of sail to line up for the final sprint to the line.

And with the finish so close, the atmosphere onboard the yachts is increasingly tense, as the potential costs of any mistakes or errors of judgement grow with every position report that confirms the proximity of the teams to one another.

Team Stelmar's Susan LYONS described the mental and physical state of a crew who must be desperate to do well after their troubled second leg:

"Hearts racing, skin sweaty and clammy, teeth clenched, eyes bulging, bodies tense in anticipation, like coiled springs ready to pounce, to manoeuvre, to winch, to pull lines or to do whatever may be necessary to make the boat go faster."

Using VMG (Velocity Made Good, the true progress towards the finish) figures, the estimated time of arrival for the first yacht is currently just after midnight on Sunday using GMT or late Sunday evening local time. It will be a frantic finish - all 1twelve yachts are currently scheduled to finish within three hours of one another.

Report based on positions at 0742 GMT
Dan Wedgewood (As Amended by ISAF)
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