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Stoneways Marine 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Leg Two, Week Three in Review- Snakes and Ladders

by on 7 Nov 2000
The children’s board game “Snakes and Ladders” is brought to mind, during the third week of racing in Leg Two of the BT
Global Challenge 2000/01.

Plucking their way through the doldrums –- a slash of variable wind and confused seas slightly above 0-degrees latitude -– has created
chaos in the rankings of the 12-boat fleet. At the beginning of the week Spirit of Hong Kong and VERITAS were in the back while Compaq
and Quadstone were up front, tightly trailing LG FLATRON. But by week’s end, VERITAS and Spirit of Hong Kong were in second and third,
and Compaq was a middle position while Quadstone had slumped to 10th.

Still, after more than 3,500 miles, the fleet is separated by only 242 miles. LG FLATRON has maintained a healthy buffer of 60 to 80 miles,
but in the midst of the pack just one or two miles separate some teams.

“This is classic doldrums,” exclaimed John Keating, as he watched positions change from Race Headquarters. As RHQ manager, and past
Challenge racer, Keating observed that boats within a relatively short distance had completely different weather conditions. “It happens with
boats within sight of each other!” he said, and called the tight, competitive racing, “pretty exciting.”

Although the fleet had amply prepared for sail changes, maintenance, navigation and other aspects of offshore yacht racing, the volume of
emails regarding the equatorial heat revealed that many crew members were still surprised by the sizzling temperatures.

VERITAS skipper Will Carnegie explained, “I always imagined the cold stormy weather would challenge me most, but I have found out
during this leg that the heat is far more of the challenge.”

“We are having to drink six litres of water a day to keep re-hydrated and not become victim of the blazing sun. As nice as it sounds it is no
fun at all,” Carnegie added. “Personally I look forward to the challenges of the Southern Ocean and will not be sorry to say goodbye to a
difficult leg.”

Part of Carnegie’s difficulties this week include a protest lodged against VERITAS for outside assistance. A team member received an
unsolicited weather and routing advice in an personal email. The case was still before the International Jury at press time.

Different worries were faced by Isle of Man, which experienced another failure of its water-making system. The breakdown stemmed from
excessive chafe on the high pressure tubing critical to the watermaking process, and has been sufficiently resolved to keep the crew out of
danger. Still, skipper Lin Parker said they would resort to water rationing for the balance of the leg -- 2,400 miles. Notified of possible
problems by Challenge Business, another six teams detected similar wear, which spurred precautionary measures.

The week ended with a momentous occasion: the yachts rounded the bulging eastern cape of Brazil as they crossed the equator, into the
southern hemisphere.

The “slip, slop, slap” of sun protection was replaced with pure “slop” as the dozen teams repeated the centuries-old marine tradition
surrounding the entrance to Neptune’s domain and crossing of the equator.

"Neptune" and any "shellbacks" (those previously have crossed the equator) initiate the "tadpoles" (those who have not before crossed the
equator by sea) –- typically including the application of vile substances to pay for past crimes against the sea. The ceremony is seen as a
tremendous landmark in the eyes of most sailors –- and certainly the Challenge crews, who have been training for upwards of four years for
the Race.

With the equator (and a good bath!) astern, meteorologist Chris Tibbs noted the teams now can look forward to steady east to north
easterly winds and a encouraging current for the next 1,200 mile stretch along the coast of South America.

“With a steady breeze across the racecourse any shortcomings in the sailing will be cruelly exposed by the consistently slower speeds
logged,” said Tibbs –- who also skippered a boat in the 1996/97 Challenge.

Agreeing with Tibbs was Conrad Humphreys, skipper of LG FLATRON –- which has been in the lead for the bulk of the leg thus far. “One
design racing in a fleet as matched as this can be a cruel sport if you’re not on the pace.” The coming days would point out which yachts
lack speed, he pointed out. To keep the fleet at bay, Humphreys said the team would continue their fanatical emphasis on weight, helming
and trimming.

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