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20 April 2005, 02:30 pm
Less Than 1,000 Miles To Go...
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Trophée BPE

Eric DROUGLAZET (FRA) is maintaining his slight lead over second place Charles CAUDRELIER (FRA) as the fleet comes within 1,000 miles of the finish at Cienfuegos de Cuba. In third place Sam DAVIES (GBR) is picking up speed again and closing in on the leading pair.
DAVIES on Skandia remains in third, increasing her lead over fourth place Cercle Vert to over fifty miles and narrowing the gap to the leading boats. DAVIES was 45.8nm from Credit Maritime-Zerotwo, skippered by DROUGLAZET, at the 1400 hours GMT poll with 25 miles separating her from CAUDRELIER on Bostik. However at the 1400 poll DROUGLAZET was averaging the fastest speed of any of the leading boats and for the time being looks secure in first.

DAVIES had the opportunity to test out her repaired asymmetric spinnaker all day yesterday and was happy with the result: 'my repair seems (touch wood) to be working absolutely fine! The tack is still attached to the ring of the asymmetric - hooray! And I have tested it well - all day with 20-28 knots wind!!'

Skandia has less than 1000nm to go until the finish and approximately 460nm until the next waypoint at the Turks Islands in the Bahamas. According to DAVIES, 'It definitely signifies the end of the race once you get on to the 1,000 mark. Especially when it's conditions like that, the 100's seem to tick down nicely and you do countdown to the finish...'

The fleet are well aware that as they approach the Turks Islands the race is far from over, 'Normally in a transatlantic race when you see land you're finished. It's a bit of a trap here because we get to the Caribbean and we still have another 500 miles. It's a strange situation but it will be interesting. I've never done a race like that, where you finish by racing along 500 miles of coast!'

DAVIES is preparing herself mentally and physically for the passage through the islands, 'There are loads of little trip-ups which could catch you out. Once we get inside these islands we cross a big shipping lane and there's going to be cruising boats, fishing boats and pirates off Haiti...It will be good for these last two nights to get some good rest for that. It's going to be more like a Figaro race - I'm psyching myself up for a Figaro type sprint.'

After having no communication with the race organisers or his family since Saturday, last night race HQ received news that Dominic VITTET (FRA) on Atao Audio System is safe and well. He passed a cargo ship yesterday evening who had VHF contact with him at 2240. Everything was okay on board, but VITTET confirmed he has no more satellite communication.

All is well with the rest of the fleet today. Antonio PEDRO DA CRUZ (CPR) has repaired his autopilot and Gildas MORVAN on Cercle Vert is feeling much better today after sleeping for three hours overnight!

The fleet are now sailing in a stable northeast wind of around 15-25 knots. This is forecasted to strengthen this afternoon and then turn light as they near the Turks Islands. DAVIES says, 'It should get a bit stronger during the day today which will be fun and I'm going to put the big spinnaker up and send it! As you get near Turks it should drop off and go a little bit to the north. There's a funny little depression forming just to south of us, which is due to take our wind away.' (As Amended By ISAF). Image, CAUDRELIER's second place is under threat from DAVIES:© Benoît STICHELBAUT/DPPI
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