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15 April 2005, 03:46 pm
DAVIES Flies On While MORVAN Slows
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Trophée BPE

Sam DAVIES (GBR) on Skandia has continued her cracking pace and remains the fastest boat in the fleet now with less than 20 miles to leader Charles CAUDRELIER (FRA). Yesterday's other pace setter Gildas MORVAN has not been as fortunate and has dropped to third.
MORVAN on Cercle Vert is suffering from his northerly position and Eric DROUGLAZET (FRA) retook second position from him this afternoon and is just over five miles back from the top spot. Racing at the front is tight with the four leaders all within 20 miles.

DAVIES remains in fourth and as the fastest boat in the fleet since 0400 hours GMT. She has continued to make up miles on leader Bostik, skippered by CAUDRELIER, who was only 19.2nm in front at the 1400 GMT poll. This time on Wednesday there were 81.3nm between the pair.

DAVIES is currently 17nm from the tightly bunched top three, and is sailing four knots faster than third place DROUGLAZET on Credit Maritime-Zerotwo. For DAVIES her speed this morning came as no surprise: 'I figured it would happen, it went a bit light last night as the sun set, the new winds are coming from the south so seeing as though I'm at the south, I'm going to get it first - so that's cool.'

DAVIES has witnessed her first flying fish which is a true sign of the changing latitudes. Conditions are really changing onboard, the fleet were experiencing lighter winds yesterday and t-shirt weather for the first time since the start. This is allowing the fleet to dry their clothes, tidy their boats and carry out boat checks. The wind had returned this morning and the warm temperatures look like they are there to stay. DAVIES explains, 'the temp inside the boat is 22 degrees, and baring in mind the sun has just risen, it's going to be a warm one today (as the weather forecasters say in America say)! Today the wind's come back and it's blowing 20 knots!'

DAVIES has spent some time looking at the long range forecasts and playing with the Maxsea routing software, to try and predict what may happen in the fleet as they approach the Bahamas passage: 'I ran a routing simulation on my computer to see who has the advantageous position, because I believe it is me and also I want to see how Gildas [MORVAN] will manage to get back South! I did a routing run for all the boats in the front row, Bostik, Cercle Vert and Gedimat to compare the differences in latitudes. It ran the movie with all four boats sailing in the weather we will are forecast to receive in the next few days. Skandia won the race by about six hours to Bostik!'

Although the majority of the fleet are now in the trade winds, it was important for the fleet to remain in the curve of the high pressure for as long as possible to benefit from the best gradient, something which DAVIES has managed to do. If you are too far north like Antonio DA LA CRUZ (CPV) on Little Black Shark the wind could be south or south west - leaving the skipper unable to sail the course with a spinnaker. If you are too far south the wind turns to the east which Dominic VITTET (FRA) on Atao Audio System is experiencing - this leaves you a little too deep and means you have to keep gybeing to avoid getting too far south.

Whilst the weather over the next two days appears to be stable, DAVIES is not so sure from Sunday onwards: 'today and the beginning of tomorrow is fine but then it turns in to a lottery. I think it's just going to about accepting where you are and getting through it as quickly as possible. Luckily the low pressure seems to be moving quite fast, hopefully the new high pressure that comes in behind will make the trade winds establish and we'll be able to get down the Turks quite quick after that.' (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Skandia is putting the pressure on the leaders:© Benoît STICHELBAUT/Sam DAVIES
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