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21 April 2005, 03:33 pm
DAVIES Storms Back
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Trophée BPE

Sam DAVIES (GBR) has made big gains on the leading pair after they hit light winds this afternoon. Eric DROUGLAZET (FRA) has a 20 mile lead over second place Charles CAUDRELIER (FRA) who is now just three miles ahead of DAVIES in third.
At the 1400 hours GMT poll DROUGLAZET on Credit Maritime-Zerotwo and CAUDRELIER on Bostik were both sailing at around six knots whilst DAVIES' Skandia was going back sailing around three knots faster having gained almost twenty miles on the pair since the night.

Behind them Gildas MORVAN (FRA) on Cercle Vert remains in fourth, with Jeanne GREGOIRE (FRA) aboard Banque Populaire now fifth.

The fleet spent the night sailing under spinnaker in steady conditions and DAVIES used this opportunity to catch up on some sleep in preparation for the next few days. 'I'm trying to get more rest, and I'm consciously putting the pilot on more. I've done a lot of things to take care of me so I'm on top form for the last 600 miles.'

As forecasted, the leading boats have hit lighter winds and conditions are expected to stay like this for the next five days. This is frustrating for them as the boats behind are gaining, sailing faster until they too hit the wall of lighter wind. The next week of racing for the skippers is almost a completely different style of racing compared to the past 18 days. The transatlantic race is effectively over and now they have a gruelling coastal section to sail - back in a more traditional 'Figaro' mode until the end of the race, but a lot more fatigued than they would normally be. In addition to this, they will need to keep an eye out for passing ships, fishing vessels, cruising boats and possibly pirates. This is the first time the skippers have raced to Cuba so it unknown territory for everyone. The last 200nm of the course in particular is littered with dangerous reefs, and underwater sea-mounts which could provide interesting sea conditions.

'The whole thing about a transatlantic race is to get first across the Atlantic but that's one of the characters of this race - there is a coastal finish and anything could happen.'

Going in to the next stage of this race, the boats behind will be able to benefit from knowing which route the boats in front have taken and use that to their advantage, 'If you're behind, you can see the other people sail in to light winds or stop, and sail round them. Having two people in front could be a nice indication for me when I'm choosing which way to go, and working out how to get through the light spots. There is definitely no disadvantage in being just behind those two…'

The boat that has sailed the longest course so far, at the south of the fleet Atao Audio System, skippered by Dominic VITTET (FRA), is now at the same latitude as race leader DROUGLAZET, but 150nm behind. Atao was the fastest in the fleet overnight, averaging eleven knots while the rest of the fleet were attaining no more than nine knots and today VITTET has maintained that level of speed.

Speaking about the rest of the race DAVIES commented, 'I think it's important to sail your own race, go with the shifts, follow your instincts and do what your weather forecast tells you to do. I don't think it's any different if you're first or last. If you're behind, you can see the other people sail in to light winds, you can see people stop and sail round them, so it could be an advantage in that way to have two people like that just in front. It could be a nice indication for me when I'm choosing which way to go, and working out how to get through the light spots. There is definitely no disadvantage in being just behind those two…'

samdavies.com (As Amended By ISAF). Image, DROUGLAZET still has the lead but DAVIES is catching:© Benoit Stichelbaut/DPPI
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