Vail Williams ahead

On day two of the Challenge Business' twice across the Atlantic race

Tuesday August 27th 2002, Author: Rachel Anning, Location: Transoceanic
The crew of BP Explorer is busy doing its best to catch up with the front-runners in the Challenge Transat after running aground.

The team, skippered by Alex Johnston lost over 60 valuable miles on the start day, Sunday 25 August, after getting stuck on a Solent sandbar. The team was eventually towed by the Yarmouth Coastguard and will have to await the decision of the International Jury to learn whether or not they will be penalised for seeking outside assistance. No decision will be made until the 15th September, after the yacht arrives in its destination port of Boston.

Vail Williams, skippered by Dave Melville was leader from the start of the race taking the most northerly position, which gave them the early advantage. In the past 24 hours, BG Group, skippered by John Burfitt edged ahead of Vail Williams but Vail Williams has regained the lead again. Competition is intense with Spirit of Hong Kong, skippered by Ian Bushelle, battling to improve its position of third in the race, closely chased by Logica, skippered by Duggie Gillespie.

The fleet have been experiencing fabulous sailing conditions with average speeds of 9 knots over the past 24 hours. However there is a ridge of high pressure nearby which will reduce the wind to 5-12 knots. The strongest winds are expected in the north and with the fleet so closely bunched there will most probably be a change in leaders over the next few days.

Although a tough race for the crews, who are finding the rigours of ocean racing very different from training, the crews are getting their first experiences of the awesome sights which the North Atlantic can conjure up including the first sightings of dolphins on the bows of the yachts.

Simon Walker, managing director, Challenge Business, comments: "The crews are getting used to racing hard now including the watch systems, constant sail changes and tireless trimming.

"BP Explorer is doing it best to recoup miles lost and despite their earlier set back spirits onboard have been reported as excellent."

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