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19 October 2004, 01:06 pm
Closest First Leg in Event|s History
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Global Challenge 2004/5
Portsmouth GBR - Buenos Aires

On day 17 of the Global Challenge a cat and mouse game is being fought out between Samsung and Barclays Adventurer. Samsung still holds her lead, but by just four miles, as the race heads past the Cape Verde Islands and towards Buenos Aires.
The fleet is once again slowly converging in what is the closest and most competitive first leg in the event's history. There are just 75 miles between three quarters of the fleet - the first eight yachts. Sailing has been intense the whole of the leg, made ever more exhilarating as many of the yachts will have been in sight of one another, the psychological need to visually get in front, high on the skippers' agendas.

The westerly fleet appears to have done the right thing and consolidated their advantage by what is known in the world of the sailing industry as 'shutting the door'. This is where they have put themselves firmly between the finish line and their competition.

However for all of the yachts there will be a straight-line race now where the emphasis will be less on tactics and heavily on sheer boat speed as they hammer their way through the northeast trade winds.

Cal TOMLINSON, race organiser's Sailing Manager offered his opinion about the next few hours and days: "Looking at the weather it looks like the north and south east trade winds are actually amalgamating and may infer that that the Doldrums could be a non event for the fleet. Because of this it may be a good idea for the boats to reserve their easterly positions as this will give them better sailing angles when they encounter the south east trade winds in about two days time (watch Duggie GILLESPIE!)."

The east and west fleet have taken two totally different tactical philosophies yet are converging back, often within sight of one another. There are just 24 hours between the front and back yachts, in the case of Team Save the Children, 30 hours. This is quite a feat for an offshore yacht race and proves how competitive this leg is.

Squalls are becoming a regular respite for the heat stricken crews as Barclays Adventurer explains in their daily log: "It has been a fascinating 12 hours of darkness with unpredictable fast moving squalls - first they appear as a yellow blob on the radar so we have been on constant watch and then as they rapidly approach it is a case of avoiding or rather just sticking it out.

"Sails are up and down. It all comes with perfect timing so as to not lose too much speed as the wind gusts almost double if not triple its strength in seconds and then dies again within minutes.

"When you see the rain, it comes as if a hose is turned upon us, there is no hiding and one member rushes down below sliding about in their new river boat shoes to quickly shut hatches to protect the sleeping dead! There is nothing quite as refreshing as fresh water rainstorm and not one complaint of being soaked has come as we all feel such relief from the humid stagnant stale air previously."


Leaderboard

Position Yacht Distance to finish
1. Samsung 3,238
2. Barclays Adventurer 3,234
3. VAIO 3,251
4. SAIC La Jolla 3,253
5. BP Explorer 3,288
6. BG SPIRIT 3,290
7. Spirit of Sark 3,299
8. Imagine It Done 3,322
9. Team Stelmar 3,393
10. Pindar 3,441
11. Me to You 3,454
12. Team Save the Children 3,553


Rachel Anning (As Amended by ISAF)
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