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26 June 2003, 09:10 am
Charging Towards Hamburg
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Daimler Chrysler North Atlantic Challenge
Newport, USA - Hamburg, GER

Skip Sheldon's racing machine Zaraffa is not only extending its lead on the fleet of 59 boats currently competing in the 3,600 nautical mile race to Germany, but is looking to establish a new racing record that will most likely hold for a very long time.
With approximately two more days of racing to go since the Class I start on June 14 in Newport, R.I., Zaraffa's navigator Mark Rudiger summarized the boat's success up to this point in the DaimlerChrysler North Atlantic Challenge.

"We were able to come off the backside of low and we were unconventional in taking a more northerly route out from the start," he said. "We were anticipating northeasterlies, so we could almost fetch the gulf stream easier than boats that went lower. We took our medicine early, so to speak. It was critical for big picture. We had a four hour window to catch the train on this cold front and we were on the leading edge for a week, surfing it. If we arrived four hours later at Point Alpha, we would have missed the train. We were fortunate to get on."

Sheldon reported that at approximately Noon (EDT), Zaraffa was ten miles from the final waypoint and was looking to round it within the hour. "The feeling is one of enthusiasm and caution," he said. "We've had an extraordinary trip. The feeling of the group here is we have at least 2 more days with wind on the nose as we round the island. We've been fortunate with the boat and a highly compatible crew."

He then summarized the three characteristics of this race, "The gulf stream and legs of turning mark, the meteorology to get to Fair Isle and, most difficult of all, the North Sea is shallow and notorious for currents."

Die "Zaraffa" (Skip Sheldon/USA) führte das DCNAC-Feld vom Start weg an. Foto: Dan Nerney/DCNAC

Neil McDonald one of the two watch captains onboard and a member of Assa Asbloy with Rudiger summarized the current weather as "clear blue skies, gentle breeze and chilly. Normally it can be misty, rainy and wild. It's rather pleasant."

How does the current weather weigh on the boat at this time? "After sort of surviving the cold front and lows, and battling high pressure across north sea, it was very challenging, both for crew and our patience," said Rudiger. "We're sniffing the barn and want to get there, but first we have to cross high pressure to get there. Once we cross, we'll be in good shape. Tomorrow will be a tough day and hopefully we'll come sliding in."

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