BT Global Challenge - Leg 1 - 20th September

Mark Chisnell introduces another report from's diary writer, Andy Magrath
The BT Global Challenge fleet has now been out in the North Atlantic for the last ten days, and there has been very little of that time when LG FLATRON hasn't been challenging for the lead. On the morning of the 20th September they were 33 miles ahead of second placed Quadstone, with 1360 nm to the finish of the first leg in Boston. The race for second is tight, with Logica, BP, VERITAS, Spirit of Hong Kong, Isle of Man and Compaq all within 40 nm of Quadstone. The north-to-south spread in the fleet is tightening rapidly - down to 90 nm - as the fleet converge on the Grand Banks, south of Newfoundland, with LG FLATRON nicely positioned ahead of the middle of the fleet. They are beating in a solid north-west to westerly breeze, that's set up between an area of high pressure to their south (the one they have been so concerned to avoid parking in) and low pressure to the north. The next change looks to be another low pressure system sweeping in from the west overnight on Thursday. That's not the hurricane Andy refers to below (which I cannot see being a problem for them - actually, to be completely honest, I can't even find it on the weather charts I've got), but it does look like the fleet will get a decent gale. They will run out of the westerly breeze as they get south of the Grand Banks and have to endure another light spot before the breeze fills again from the south. That should make for some fast reaching conditions, before the cold front associated with this low pressure goes through and swings the wind to the west and north-west again. As any buoy racer will know, wind shifts count most