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9 June 2004, 11:56 am
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© Challenge Business

Round Britain And Ireland Challenge
Round Great Britain And Ireland

Well there are no fat ladies singing in the North Sea at the minute as it's by no means over for any of the fleet as they race down the east coast and towards home.
The gremlin has been found which was running amok with our satellite service, and the latest positions show a definite divide in the fleet with Kunachi still retaining and consolidating its lead. They are tactically playing the field of positioning themselves between the leaders and the next mark - classic yacht racing from our Italian powerhouse. Kunachi cannot afford to rest on their laurels, however, with Team Seven chasing hard, just 5 miles behind and BP Explorer, just three miles behind her.

Barclays Adventurer is still looking like a definite contender, with just 9 miles to catch up. The fleet then splits, headed by one time leader SAIC, which is 22 miles back, followed by The Firm, with 8 miles to catch up. Team Save the Children has 8 miles to catch up to the Firm with Besso a further 18 miles back.

Looking at the fleet, we turn our attentions to The Firm this morning, whose spirits were faltering in the middle of the race, due to continued wind lock and the psychological negativity faced when last. They've done a sterling job in climbing through the fleet, demonstrating that it can be done as they tip toe through the oilrigs and devise their strategies to take on their next opposition.

Chris VINE explains in his daily log: "It's good to be finally heading south. We're now facing a straight-line route through the oil fields of the North Sea down to the coast of East Anglia. Both watches put in some good stints yesterday afternoon and into the evening. We were convinced this must consolidate our gains on Besso and Save The Children. Could we even take on the next yacht SAIC? Binoculars scanned the horizon for signs of the yellow sails of the Challenge yachts."

Skipper Dee has obviously been stepping up the pace with her crew with a tireless change of sails and trimming (making sure the sails are in optimum sailing position), demonstrating that it's not just about the directions the yachts choose, as they search for the best winds and tides, but also the action onboard. We may have predicted yesterday that there was a considerable lack of wind but we've been proved wrong as the yachts have found strong winds and big with one yacht having reported 42 knots of wind.

Chris goes onto explain their high seas experience of changing from Yankee 1 to the smaller Yankee 2 sail last night: "Three of us (Phil, Chris & Paul) went forward to the pulpit. As we prepared to hank on the sail spray was coming over the bow each time we crashed into the oncoming waves. Just as we attempted to clip on the lowest part - the tack - the bow plunged deep into the next big wave.

The breaking wave knocked everyone off their feet and washed us back down the foredeck. These antics continued until finally we'd secured the smaller number 2 Yankee.

"All returned safely to the cockpit totally drenched but all claiming it was actually quite exhilarating. I was just waiting for Dee to say that after all that effort the weather had calmed and we wouldn't be needing it. Toys would have exited pram at a large rate of knots. Straight after a large pod of dolphins came to play along side. What a fantastic day!"
Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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