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27 April 2005, 04:31 pm
Teams Gearing Up For The Start Of Leg Five
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Cape Town, South Africa

Today is a national public holiday in South Africa, Freedom Day, which marks the ushering in of South Africa's first democratically elected government eleven years ago on the 27 April 1994, which brought Nelson Mandela to power. Celebrations are taking place all around the country to mark the occasion including the V & A waterfront in Cape Town.
The Challenge yachts are out on the water for the final day of corporate sailing and some of the teams have started to go out on training sails for the start of the leg. Initial forecasts indicate a slow, sunny start with light winds so today is a good taster of what it will be like.

The general feeling here is that the 'nasty stuff' has been done. The previous leg is traditionally the worst and having got through the Southern Indian Ocean, many crew feel that it is now the homeward run, Cape Town being the last big stopover. However, there may be a few surprises in store for the teams weather-wise, but at least it will get warmer - the cold and very wet stuff is over. The big problems now will be psychological, coping with the routine of a very long leg and the inevitable heat.

'We're still in to win it,' says Julian COLLS (GBR), crewmember on SAIC La Jolla, 'we've seen a constant improvement onboard and building on our performance in leg three, we feel that sitting in fourth overall we are still very much in contention. We've sailed the boat with a conservative approach, which is reflected in our limited damage to the sails, yacht and equipment, and the crew. We also handled Eero's [LEHTINEN (RSA), the boat's skipper - Ed] illness very well, keeping the performance high without him and feel that now Eero's back at full strength we can operate at 110%.'

Of their stay in their skipper's home port, COLLS comments, 'We've noticed a difference in Eero and we've drawn an energy and enthusiasm from him being at home and with his family.'

COLLS goes on to explain changes in provisioning for the next leg: 'Each leg is tailored to the conditions we expect to see, so this next leg we haven't gone for the stodge and heavy puddings we had for energy and of course we need to stop the chocolate from melting.'

COLLS also confesses to a slight advantage over South African America's Cup team, Team Shosholoza after SAIC La Jolla's winning performance at the Dragon Boat Racing on Sunday as he and other core crew member, Steve WOTTON (GBR) had in fact both rowed for the same Oxford University college first eight!

'Everything's a lot more relaxed in this stopover.' Me To You skipper James ALLEN (GBR) admits, 'In Sydney there was definitely a degree of nervousness about the following leg to Cape Town, but on this next one we're looking forward to a hot, downwind leg. We went out today but there's not a lot of wind and to be honest the yacht is pretty much ready. After several stopovers the crew know what has to be done and they just get on with it.'

'We've made major changes to the food for this next leg, we've moved away from the rehydrated meals which were getting harder and harder for us to eat and replaced them with locally-sourced meals for some variation.'

With only four days to go before Race Restart on Sunday, many of the teams are having their farewell dinners in Cape Town this evening. The Prize-giving Ceremony takes place tomorrow evening at the Rickety Bridge Winery.

Jim Allen. Image:©onEdition
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