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27 February 2005, 07:09 pm
Team Stelmar Leads Across The Line
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Global Challenge

This leg through the Southern Ocean, is the biggie - Sydney to Cape Town - for the 12 boats in the Global Challenge.
At the start Team Stelmar led across the line in 10 to 12 knots of wind with an overcast sky. Once over the line the yachts hoisted spinnakers and BP Explorer rounded the first mark ahead of the fleet, Team Stelmar in 2nd, Me to You in 3rd and then Barclays Adventurer in 4th.

Intially SAIC La Jolle hugged the coast but then came out to join the main fleet. At the same time Me to You tacked towards the coast, these two now lead. Nearly four hours after the start Me to You is in 1st place, but so close to 2nd place SAIC La Jolla they are literally side by side on the water and inseparable by the Race Viewer, which shows them level pegging. A clear 12nm then separates them from the main bunch of 10, led by BP Explorer and Spirit of Sark.

The teams placed 3rd to 9th are now only 4nm apart in terms of distance to finish, and Samsung have opted to head even further east, putting them in 12th at present and 3nm behind 11th place Team Save the Children.

Neville WITTEY, the renowned Australian sailor commented: 'Normally in a southerly airstream, south-southeast for some reason it pays to go to the right [west], particularly as pressure comes down the south, it will come from the south first. Provided they don't get too silly, and they stick on the right hand side of the fleet, they could end up with a nice little lead!

'Today we've got southerly, and I think we are going to have southerly for most of tomorrow. Certainly in this part of Australia, I think this flow might turn round to the north-east and they might be able to get spinnakers up and have a pretty cruisy [sic] run down the coast.

'There is another front coming across though - at the moment it doesn't look too bad. It's one of those ones that could deepen, could give them a little kicking, a nice start to the long leg across. But there's nothing super severe that I can see on the horizon, so I think they'll be lucky to get 35 knots going across to Tasmania, but things can change.'

Neville also said that the coast would be his choice while watching the start, not least because the southerly flowing current could boost boat speed. According to the latest information, they have approximately double the average speed of much of the fleet, so the navigators and tacticians will be celebrating onboard.

The East Australia Current transports up to 30 million cubic metres per second and is at its strongest in summer, peaking in the month of February! It also generates ocean eddies as broad as 200 kilometres across, rotating mainly anti-clockwise at up to four knots at the edge; these can be more than one kilometre deep and have a life of up to a year. (CSIRO Marine Research).

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