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22 April 2005, 03:38 pm
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Trophée BPE

Eric DROUGLAZET (FRA) has extended his lead at the head of the fleet as second place, Charles CAUDRELIER (FRA) has come to a near standstill. Pre-race favourite, Gildas MORVAN (FRA) was on a surge and catching Sam DAVIES (GBR) in third, but has since slowed as well.
DAVIES on Skandia is still in 3rd, 32.3nm behind leader DROUGLAZET on Credit Maritime-Zerotwo at the 1400 hours GMT poll. Now just five miles ahead of DAVIES is CAUDRELIER on Bostik and the Frenchman looks in great danger of losing his second place, travelling at just two knots at the 1400 poll.

MORVAN aboard Cercle Vert is in fourth and was closing down on DAVIES fast until he also hit a slow spot. MORVAN just sailing at 3.2 knots at the poll giving DAVIES a 3.5 knot advantage and some breathing space.

As the wind lightens for the front runners the boats behind look set to catch up, arriving with a new and stronger breeze, according to DAVIES, 'it could almost be like a new race'.

Frustrating and nerve-wracking times for the leading skippers who have dominated this race so far. As the leaders get closer to land, the vagaries of the 'local weather' will come into play combined with a forecast of lighter winds will make the next stage of the race highly tactical and nerve-wrackingly exhausting for the skippers.

Earlier this morning, Skandia was on a dead downwind run to the next waypoint south of the Turks and Caicos islands but in her 1000 hours (BST) daily phonecall with her shore team, Skandia was in the midst of a thunderstorm sailing through rain and lightening in pitch darkness making only two to four knots of boatspeed : 'It is really difficult to tell which shift is going to last, and which shift is just for five minutes.'

At 1000 BST Skandia was approximately 66nm away from the entrance to the passage that marks the compulsory waypoints. The reason behind these racemarks is to keep the fleet north of Haiti and to ensure they pass safely through the unmarked rocks and shoals surrounding the Islands. The passage itself is approximately 25 miles and DAVIES expects to go through later tonight around 2000-2200 BST. Once through this passage, Skandia will cross Guantanamo Bay rounding the south coast of Cuba before heading towards the finish port of Cienfuegos.

This passage marks the end of the Atlantic crossing for the twelve skippers as they enter the Caribbean Sea. There is still another 600nm to go to the finish line and this race is far from over. (As Amended By ISAF). Image, MORVAN is trailing DAVIES in fourth place:© Benoit STICHELBAUT/DPPI
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