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29 April 2003, 04:39 pm
Spirit Of Southampton Clings to First
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Round Britain Challenge
Round Great Britain

Spirit of Southampton is still out in front in the Round Britain Challenge but is now desperately clinging on, with just a two-mile lead over LogicaCMG, snapping in second, and The Daily Telegraph, which has now moved up into third.
With just 14 miles separating the top four yachts, first place is up for grabs once again as the fleet bunches up for the final burst home.

The yachts which moved closer inshore last night, predicting a different wind shift to the rest of the pack, profited and made up vital miles on the leader, which eventually turned inshore later. BG Group lost miles, as did Spirit of Hong Kong.

Team Spirit, though currently in last place, clocked up the fastest 24 hour run with 195 miles and the fastest 24-hour speed, closing the gap to the leader, which is now 68 miles.

The fleet is filtering down the East Anglian coast and through the Thames Estuary where their next challenge will be to negotiate sand banks, shipping and the tidal gates the rest of the way down the east coast.

Duggie, skipper aboard LogicaCMG noted in their daily log that it's all about tactics now, which will make the difference at this vital stage of the race explaining: "we have been almost neck and neck with BG Group for what seems weeks. We split yesterday following different ideas and will be interesting to see who gets the advantage."

His ideas obviously paid off!

Within these final few miles boat speed is paramount and, as Spirit of Hong Kong explains, their yacht echoes with the regular call of: "Trim-on which can be heard from the deck, (the call to fine tune the sails to optimise boat speed - winning power) so it is time to get back on deck and get on with some work."

All the yachts will be focusing on getting as home as quickly as possible, luckily having now passed most of the oilrigs, BG Group describing how: "There were so many at one stage that it looked like a housing development and we had to slalom our way through them."

The Round Britain Challenge has been and, right up to the last coupe of days, is still an incredibly exciting race. Even in these last few miles it is impossible to tell who will take the top podium place. BG Group concludes: "As we pass the northern tip of East Anglia you can feel the excitement building. In some ways we do not want this adventure to end although the idea of having a hot shower, putting on dry clothes and going to a toilet, which you do not have to pump and which doesn't move, is quite appealing!"

Positions at 1400GMT Today

Spirit of Southampton (1) DTF (distance to finish) 228
LogicaCMG (2)DTF 230
The Daily Telegraph (3) DTF 237
BG Group (4) DTF 242
Basilica (5) DTF 252
Spirit Of Hong Kong (6) DTF 264
Vail Williams (7) DTF 275
Team Spirit (8)DTF 296
Rachel Anning
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