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18 April 2005, 05:12 pm
Weekend Lead Change
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Trophée BPE

Eric DROUGLAZET (FRA) leads the fleet crossing the Atlantic after overtaking Charles CAUDRELIER at the weekend. With less than 1,500 miles to the finish, Sam DAVIES (GBR) on Skandia holds third place, 49nm behind the leader.
The fleet are heading down towards the Bahamas passage under genoa in a varying southerly wind between seven and 20 knots, averaging speeds of seven to eight knots. DROUGLAZET on Credit Maritime-Zerotwo is still leading after moving into the top spot over the weekend. 22nm behind is CAUDRELIER on Bostik in second. DAVIES has increased her lead over fourth place Gildas MORVAN (FRA) onboard Cercle Vert to 20nm. David RAISON (FRA) on Coutot Roehrig moved up to fifth place overnight, and is now 94nm behind the leader.

Skandia spent the majority of yesterday under autopilot allowing DAVIES to spend some valuable time studying the weather and to decide on a strategy for the next few days, and for the next waypoint - a passage though the Turks islands of the Bahamas. She also took advantage of the stable conditions and managed to re-connect one of her solar panels, tidy up a few things, catch up on some sleep and have her first shower since the start two weeks ago!

'The 'shower' consists of throwing buckets of sea over my head! The sea is pleasantly warm (I didn't scream - that is normally how I judge the temperature). It was SO GOOD to wash my hair. John Frieda shampoo and conditioner - luxury. At the end, I treated myself to one litre of fresh water to rinse! Then I spent the rest of the day being really careful to not get a splash of salt water on my clean body!'

After spending two hours repairing the asymmetric spinnaker in the early hours of yesterday morning, DAVIES has not yet had the opportunity to test it out. The fleet should pass through a cold front sometime later this evening, and after a few more hours on the breeze the wind should move more North - allowing DAVIES to test her sail repairs. However if the breeze shifts further, and more quickly after exiting the front it is more likely that she will set one of her two big spinnakers. The two leading boats now only have one of their two spinnakers after damaging them earlier on,

'I've got two proper, nearly untouched, big spinnakers so I'm happy about that! I heard that Droug [DROUGLAZET] and Charles [CAUDRELIER] have exploded one of their big spinnakers which is nice to know! We're allowed to take two big spinnakers on this race so they will still have one but if you know you've only got one left then you probably won't sail as fast as you would if you had two. It's a psychological game…!'

The cold front should pass over the fleet tonight/tomorrow morning bringing less wind, but DAVIES thinks she may have a small corridor with more wind, 'It looks tricky for tonight but after the front, my path should 'sneak' through and avoid the big patches of light air to the north and south of me. This could all change by tomorrow, so it is a lot about keeping fingers crossed too.'

The current ETA for the first boats to arrive in Cuba is the afternoon of 26 April, well ahead of pre-race expectations.

samdavies.com (As Amended By ISAF). Image, DROUGLAZET Leads:© Benoit Stichelbaut / DPPI
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