BG Group out in front

Most southerly yacht leads Challenge Transata

Wednesday September 4th 2002, Author: Rachel Anning, Location: Transoceanic
BG Group, the southerly most yacht, is still out in front in the Challenge Transat with a lead of 18 miles as Logica and Vail Williams fight it out, neck and neck, for second place.

Playing a game of sailing yo yo, Logica has once again edged ahead of Vail Williams by 21 miles, after running in third place for the previous 24 hours. TeamspirIT is battling it out in fifth place eager to take over Spirit of Hong Kong, which lost miles against the leader because of light winds.

Still, Spirit of Hong Kong has set its sights firmly on one of the top three places, determined that Team SpirIT will not catch them up: "Every minute is spent trying to get that extra half a knot of speed out of the boat," comments first mate Duncan Jubb. "There is never a quiet moment on deck - trimming the sails, sail changes, tacking etc. But that is only half the story - down below there is constant monitoring of the weather to determine tactics for the next few hours."

"Everyone onboard is focused on making up our deficit," said TeamSpirIT skipper Mark Taylor, who is chasing the 34 mile lead Spirit of Hong Kong currently has. "We are slowly closing the gap on Spirit of Hong Kong and Vail Williams. But with the boats so evenly matched this is very hard to do in settled weather. However, we can pull some time back in rough and changing conditions."

Taylor has complained for days that something seems to be slowing his boat. A few days ago the team discovered a long rope had wrapped itself around their keel and removed it. But, Taylor is still not happy with his boat's performance. "We still seem to sail very slowly on port tack," he reports.

With the midway point beckoning, Crew Volunteers are now starting to dream of the luxuries they will enjoy when they get to their destination port of Boston. Crew on board Spirit of Hong Kong have actually started redesigning the yacht, if only in their minds, to, "incorporate a fridge/freezer, microwave, coffee maker, fan assisted (gimballed) oven, food processor, bread maker and last but not least a 'maxi' bar. Also, in the plans were a Jacuzzi but at the moment we would happily settle for a bath tub!"

Still a long way from the luxury of a bathtub but chasing hard, with spirit remaining high, is BP Explorer searching for stronger winds in a bid to erase their 200-mile deficit.

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