Bobst Group on a flier

As Kingfisher catches up with lead duo

Tuesday May 14th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Positions at 1700GMT
Pos Boat Lat Long Speed Course DTF DTL
1 Sill Plein Fruit 39 20.48' N 10 20.28' W 8.4 149 661.9 0
2 Tiscali Global Challenge 39 20.84' N 10 14.84' W 8.1 151 663.3 1.4
3 Kingfisher 39 43.84' N 11 10.24' W 9.5 237 672.9 11
4 L'Heautontimoroumenos 40 18.84' N 10 18.24' W 8.6 239 718.8 56.9
5 Temenos 40 28.88' N 11 10.12' W 8.9 137 720.5 58.6
6 Bobst Group Armor Lux 41 06.84' N 13 32.04' W 9 216 749.4 87.6
7 Virbac 41 06.56' N 11 07.00' W 8.6 251 758.1 96.2

The tight battle continues in the Regate du Rubicon with the Marc Lombard sisterships Sill Plein Fruit and Tiscale Global Challenge jockeying for first place. At the 1700GMT Roland Jourdain's Sill had edged ahead of the Italian boat skippered by Simone Bianchetti.

"This is like a match race. We're all constantly on manoeuvres to get the maximum out of every puff of air," commented Tiscale's Laurent Cordelle. "As the conditions will continue to ease so our nerves will be put to the test soon as I think the next stage will be like a long spell in purgatory! We are at least able to have some kind of control over the fleet in our current position."

Meanwhile Kingfisher is still in contention in third, 11 miles astern of Sill. But while the lead duo are locked in battle Kingfisher has split to the west. "I'm focused on the navigation, I hope I won't make a mistake, and I am poured over the chart table the whole time, which is a shame as I prefer being on the helm," commented Ellen MacArthur earlier. "The boat is not the same as when I raced her in the Vendée, she has gone through a lot of modifications, so I am having to learn all over again."

The front trio have now opened out a 50 mile lead on the former Filain fourth.

While the leaders are hugging the Portugese coast in a similar to the leg one winner of the Transat AG2R recently, west to east transatlantic monohull record holder Bernard Stamm has different ideas on board Bobst Group-Armor Lux. The Franco-Swiss skipper has charged off on a big flier to the west. "To the East the boats are going to sail into light airs crossing the high pressure ridge," explained Stamm. "We are waiting for the front to pass and behind there is a fresh wind, although it will be on the nose, for us to charge south. The sky is covering, which is a good sign for us - we're looking for bad weather!"

The outcome will depend upon how held up the leaders are crossing the ridge and how quickly Stamm can hook into the move powerful winds from the depression.

"It's a bit ambitious to me," commented Roland Jourdain of Stamm's flier. "But if he ends up being right, then we'll be stitched up properly." Bianchetti sounded less worried: "I really don't think this is going to pay for Bernard, it's a bit too radical."

Meanwhile at the back of the fleet Bob Escoffier's Open 50 Adecco-Etoile Horizon has retired, while bringing up the rear is Jean-Pierre Dick's Virbac, after they broke their steering cables during a knock-down.

Race leader Roland Jourdain's Sill Plein Fruit

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