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12 April 2005, 04:22 pm
The Secret of Their Success
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2004/2005 Global Challenge
Cape Town, South Africa

Second place in leg four means BP Explorer has moved into first place on the overall table, knocking BG SPIRIT from the top spot with their dogged consistency.
Unlike second place overall team Spirit of Sark, who have two wins, and former leaders, BG SPIRIT, with one, BP Explorer have not yet had the glory of winning a leg but 'all the crew are very pleased,' says skipper David MELVILLE (GBR). 'We did our team debrief and I think the word that came to mind was consistency. We performed consistently, if not spectacularly, and others have oscillated up and down more…'

'You can't afford to have bad legs in this competition,' he continued, 'you've got to be up in the top five all the time and so far we've managed to achieve that. I think there's a little bit more in reserve though!'

Asked whether BP Explorer would finish a leg in first place before the end of the race MELVILLE replied: 'That's always the plan, I think we're certainly capable of it - I'm sure we will. We were talking about this the other day - whether they would be happy to come second in every leg and win the competition overall and I think the answer is yes.'

After two second places, a fourth and a fifth, MELVILLE is confident his team can go all the way and win the overall race and lift the Princess Royal Trophy: 'I think we can do it, but it depends on the form of some of the other boats. I think we've got very strong competition in the form of Spirit of Sark and BG SPIRIT, I think they are the main people, and lots of other capable boats in the fleet that could pull a few surprises out.'

'We'll do our very best, and that's what we are trying to achieve, it's always been what we were trying to achieve right from the start - it's a competition isn't it! But as I said before the other boats do keep trying to spoil our days out - we can't legislate for what the other teams get up to!'

'We're not going around jumping up and down about it. We see where we are and we understand how the points work and what we need to do is even more work in the second half of the race, and that's what we intend to do.'

BP Explorer worked their way to the top of the overall table by finishing fourth over the line in Buenos Aires, although a penalty point reduced their tally to 11 after the first leg. Along with other teams, they were deemed to have infringed a traffic separation scheme and were penalized as a result.

The second leg took the fleet into the mighty Southern Ocean for the first time and BP Explorer finished in second place, taking their points tally to 25 and their overall position to joint first with Samsung and VAIO.

The sprint to Sydney from Wellington brought them a fifth place but BG SPIRIT, skippered by Australian Andy FORBES, came in first and took the lead overall. BP Explorer slipped to second.

However, leg four saw former leader BG SPIRIT finish in ninth place, making BP Explorer's second good enough to put them back in the lead. Past the halfway stage of the race just two points separate them from leg four winners Spirit of Sark with a further two back to BG SPIRIT. The next and longest leg takes the boats 6,775 miles from Cape Twon, South Africa to Boston, USA. They then head 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to La Rochelle, France before a final 420 mile spirit across the English Channel to Portsmouth, Great Britain.

Whilst the teams are relaxing with several of them visiting wineries in the region, Matthew RATSEY, Challenge Business Technical Director, took at the yachts' log books and noticed some interesting facts:

'Spirit of Sark sailed the shortest distance at 7,101nm at an average 7.92 knots. Imagine It. Done. [who led for much of the leg and were beaten in the dying stages] was the fastest in the fleet at an average of 8.22 knots but they sailed over 300nm further than Spirit of Sark.'

'VAIO sailed the furthest at 7,724nm and maintained an average speed of 7.91 knots so they were not slow, just sailed extra miles.'

Dan Wedgwood (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Overall race leader BP Explorer:© onEdition
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