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13 May 2002, 09:36 am
Simone Bianchetti Holds Lead on `Tiscali|
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Regatta de Rubicon

At the 0500hrs position report this morning, Tiscali Global Challenge, skippered by Italian Simone Bianchetti, was averaging 9.1 knots, and still holding the pole position since the top marker buoy in St. Nazaire! He is heading directly South West and wil
"Tiscali is sailing a great race!" exclaimed Roland Jourdain. His red rocket machine Sill Plein Fruit is now only 3.3 miles behind the leader, but closer to the Spanish coastline and to windward of the fleet. In the coming hours 'Bilou' could work this position to his advantage.

In fact the whole fleet have decided to skirt the Iberian shores as Sill was passing around 12 miles from the entry to La Coruna. They are all sailing in a steady 25 knot wind, and preparing themselves for an increase in the force of the wind and a dose of rough seas once they have rounded Cap Finisterre in a few hours.

Swiss Bernard Stamm and his crew on board Bobst Group-Armor Lux are 'sticking like glue' to Sill Plein Fruit just to her lee 6.8 miles behind, and these leaders are all matching each other for speed at around 9 - 10 knots. Not to be forgotten, Ellen MacArthur and crew on board Kingfisher are in 4th place, making good ground within 10 miles from the leader.

On the radio this morning the leaders described the conditions on board. Laurent Cordelle, crew on Tiscali Global Challenge: "Sorry for the bad spelling but the computer keyboard is jumping every time the boat takes a knock. We're past La Coruna, have a little less sail up and sailing head on into a choppy sea. But at least we can tackle Portugal in daylight."

Roland Jourdain, skipper of Sill Plein Fruit: "Yes, it's pretty rough alright. We're sailing with two reefs in the mainsail plus staysail, but in a few hours the wind is going to really get up even more. Perhaps not quite as much as predicted but a good 35 - 40 knots. Could be better, could be worse! And as you can well imagine, we are all behaving with the utmost tact and delicacy on the boat!" They all sound on good form, not least because Bilou described that they had been enjoying meals of beef with rice for lunch and chicken with pasta for dinner, supplied by their sponsor!

Although the fleet is slightly protected just to windward of Cap Finisterre, there is no doubt that each of the 40 crew out racing will be getting themselves ready as they head into stormy weather and uncomfortable seas where the low pressure system will meet them. The upside is that at least they will be facing this during daylight hours.

Adecco-Etoile Horizon is 60 miles from Lorient, heading towards Brittany after discovering a serious leak from his rudder.

Mary Ambler/ISAF Secretariat
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