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17 May 2003, 05:14 pm
Battle for First Intensifies
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Challenge Mondial Assistance
Cherbourg (FRA) - Rimini (ITA)

At the 0800 GMT ranking Banque Populaire had snatched the lead from Groupama by just 0.4 miles - its "bizarre northerly option" paying dividends, for the time being at least.
Géant is currently hanging onto the third step of the podium but fourth placed Bayer CropScience is hungry for victory making the highest speed of the fleet with 16 knots VMG, and navigator Jean-Yves Bernot clearly playing his trump card. Bonduelle is not far behind followed by a support group of SergioTacchini, Sodebo, and Banque Covefi who are having their own private regatta, jockeying for positions that change at every ranking.

At 0800 GMT Karine Fauconnier had the reins, with Stève Ravussin's Swiss steed giving way momentarily to Sodebo. Sopra Group is now trailing by nearly 100 miles, making the least speed and the least ground of the whole fleet.

To the south-west of Sardinia and leader Banque Populaire, Groupama does not seem quite so well placed making over 4 knots less speed. To the west of the border between Algeria and Tunisia the second group of Bayer and Bonduelle are amassing more pace near the coast while being headed by third placed Géant who is slightly slower for the moment.

Further back in the fleet the reverse seems to be true. Banque Covefi has been eaten up a bit by the coast, now sailing behind Sergio Tacchini and Sodebo further out to sea.

All in all a navigators nightmare with the crew playing ever breath of air to get a sniff of the sweet aromas of victory in the Challenge Mondial Assistance.
Event Media (Translated By Kate Jennings)
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