BG SPIRIT has reeled BP Explorer back into the three-way fight for 4th place by overtaking them last night.
Andy FORBES' crew were 21nm behind BP Explorer yesterday morning but now they boast a 3nm lead on them and a psychological boost that could not have come at a better time as the crews prepare for what will probably be their last week of racing.
5nm separates BG SPIRIT, BP Explorer and Spirit of Sark according to this morning's poll, in 4th, 5th and 6th respectively, after more than 5000nm of racing. Approximately 1500nm into the race they were side by side with 3nm between them as they passed through the Canary Islands. 19 days later the "race within the race" as David Melville, skipper of BP Explorer described it, is still just as close so coming out on top will surely mean a lot to the teams after such close sailing.
Incidentally, the fleet have passed through an oilfield making for some impressive sights according to the daily logs from across the fleet. BG SPIRIT's David Albury described the scene yesterday:
"Helicopters buzzed between rigs as we passed a big pipe-laying vessel and the crew of a rig standby vessel waved and hailed 'Ahoy Sailors' as we passed. Our first contact with people in the outside world since the start! As night fell, the flares burning off the excess gas lit up the night sky behind us in a peculiar mix of Mad Max meets Waterworld!"
Yesterday afternoon Imagine It. Done had sneaked in front of Team Stelmar but 3nm was a fragile margin. Sure enough Team Stelmar fought back, regaining 8th place last night and pulling ahead of Imagine It. Done. by 7nm. The same goes for Team Stelmar though - such a slight lead leaves no margin for error with Dee Caffari and her crew so close behind, we could well see another swap of positions.
Since the 2am poll, 3rd place VAIO has closed the gap on 2nd place Samsung to just 1nm, so a head to head fight for 2nd is just starting as VAIO's momentum could propel them past Samsung by this afternoon's position report. So we have three incredibly close battles with just a few miles of water separating teams as 2nd, 4th, and 8th place are at stake over the next few hours. However, two of these fights are taking place in the leading pack of 6 yachts, all now only 64nm apart, making it hugely competitive at the top.