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5 April 2005, 11:39 am
Lead Changes As Top Three Converge
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

Spirit of Sark has stolen the lead from Imagine It. Done. and the two are just one nautical mile in front of third place BP Explorer. Racing is sure to be tight until the finish as the yachts at the head of the fleet bunch up in the light airs on the approach to Cape Town and the end of leg four.

Imagine It. Done. has been fighting off the challenge from Spirit of Sark and BP Explorer for over two weeks, leading the pack in the knowledge that everything could change on the tricky approach to the finish line.

Now that lead has disappeared and an unbelievably tense and slow 43nm race to the line in excruciatingly light airs has begun. Imagine It. Done. and Spirit of Sark are almost dead level, alongside one another after well over 6,000nm of hard racing across the Southern Ocean and BP Explorer is in third, only one mile behind.

'Waking to the coastline of South Africa against a backdrop of a blood red sunrise was quite spectacular if it wasn't for the dying breeze and the lack of boat speed,' wrote Imagine It. Done. skipper Dee CAFFARI (GBR) this morning. 'The lightweight spinnaker was flying just, but everything was painful.

'Now to add salt to the injury we have stopped dead in the water and Spirit of Sark and BP Explorer are alongside. We are all in slightly differing breeze. Many times the races to Cape Town have been won and lost in the last 50 miles and it looks like this race will be no different.'

Behind them, Team Stelmar only trails by 7nm so any of the four yachts jammed up so close to Cape Town could come out on top. In fact, yachts have been known to sit becalmed in this area for hours on end, so there is even a possibility fifth place Pindar and sixth place SAIC La Jolla, both currently around 75nm behind Imagine It. Done., could be in with a shout if the top four are left floundering for long enough.

Predicting the arrival time at this stage is a hit and miss affair…The breeze is not forecast to pick up as they leave the influence of the high-pressure system and continue, albeit very slowly, towards the line. Light and fluky airs are likely for the next 24 hours.

Therefore every inch will count for the teams at the top and the desperately close racing could easily go all the way to the line. The yachts will be polled every hour to keep up with their progress and the fractional margins separating the teams.

Dan Wedgwood (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Imagine It. Done. skipper Dee CAFFARI reflecting on the Southern Ocean:© Challenge Business
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