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18 October 2004, 03:46 pm
Top Two In Sight Of Each Other
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Global Challenge 2004/5
Portsmouth - Buenos Aires

Samsung and Barclays Adventurer are fighting for the lead this morning. A late position report from VAIO may have them in second place on the leader board, but their true position is third.
Unfortunately, due to the slight lack of synchronicity this morning we cannot report the exact distance between Samsung and Barclays Adventurer, but there is no doubt that the atmosphere on board both yachts must be tense as they were in sight of one another this morning:

"Well we can see Samsung on the radar now at about four miles in front which has given us extra incentive to trim trim trim!"

Barclays Adventurer may well be keen to catch the leader, but Matt RIDDELL and his crew have fought off all attempts at knocking them off the top spot since last Wednesday. We will have to wait a few more hours for clarification when the afternoon position reports come in.

VAIO have crept back up the leader board from fifth yesterday morning to their current position just behind the top two.

Now that the two groups from east and west have met, the yachts from the westerly group seem to have come out on top, currently leading the way in the top four places. In a second group not far behind, the teams that approached from the east occupy the next four spots on the leader board and are chasing hard.

Over the next couple of days boat speed will be top of the agenda as the leaders, free of the Cape Verde Islands, sail in similar conditions.

Team Stelmar boast the second highest 24-hour run of the fleet this morning and lie 126nm behind the leader. However, in their current position, Team Stelmar does not have the immediate motivation of a match race, whereas Pindar and Me to You are embroiled in a head to head contest just one nm apart. They are just passing the Cape verde Islands but Me to You were caught out by the same wind shadow that halted Spirit of Sark's progress and lost their position to Pindar.

Will SMITH aboard Me to You reported that they were "flopping about in no wind" last night and described how frustrating it is to lose a position that was "eeked out over days of hard trimming, blown in a few hours by a great big mountain."

The northeast trade winds are still providing reasonable conditions for the teams with the majority of the fleet enjoying an average speed of around 8 knots.

Looking ahead, the northeast and southeast trade winds are converging to form a band of easterly breeze that could reduce the doldrums to a pleasant beam reach in winds upwards of 10 knots, although this is very much a theory at this stage!

The prospect of soaring temperatures below deck while the yacht is going nowhere fast in light and unreliable winds will have been causing trepidation across the fleet - reports of the increasing heat making sleep harder to come by have already come in from the crews.

The majority of the teams would welcome the chance to avoid the legendary light airs and heat of the doldrums, except perhaps those further back in the fleet.

If the doldrums crossing, billed as a key factor in this leg by all, becomes a non-event the current positions could be consolidated and those trailing may find it very difficult to catch the leading group. However, this is all speculation at this stage.

The south Atlantic high is further north than expected for this time of year. As a result the southeast trade winds are also further north, causing them to meet the northeast trade winds and close up the gap where a frustrating vacuum would ordinarily occur.

Nevertheless, if the south Atlantic high shifts back to the south, the southeast trade winds would also shift further south. The band of easterly wind currently bridging the southeast and northeast trade winds would become a windless void and the traditional conditions for the region at this time of year would return.
Dan Wedgewood (As Amended by ISAF)
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