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Zhik 2018 Yacht 728x90

Drag Racing

by Quokka Sports Staff on 7 Nov 2000
The BT Global Challenge fleet has rounded the eastern tip of Brazil and is now on a long drag race down to Buenos Aires.


After the localised weather conditions of the doldrums the boats are all now experiencing the same sort of weather and it is
now down to work rate and tactics to see who will come out top when they reach Argentina.

LG FLATRON is still holding on to its lead while the rest of the field is still playing a game of snakes and ladders behind.

As Race Headquarters manager John Keating said, “LG FLATRON is the hare and the rest of the pack are the hounds.

“They have all now rounded the corner of Brazil and are charging down the coast of South America.”

The rest of the leg will be crucial as any mile lost will be hard to catch up.

Stephen Breen, crew volunteer on BP, said, “(We are) sailing hard and other challenge boats are breathing down our necks. Holding off the
fleet behind and chasing the leaders is hard. The next eight days are going to be relentless.”

The field is now spread over only just over 100 miles east to west and 11 of the boats are separated by just 50 miles east to west so all of
the boats are experiencing the same weather conditions.

“The current may affect different boats in different ways but the thing that is going to make the difference is about how they are getting to
sail the boats,” said Keating.

Manley Hopkinson, skipper of Olympic Group, said, “With less than 2000 miles to go it has turned into a drag race down half a continent.
We are one of the further west boats now and so are able to bear away for a better wind angle.

“We have just over a week to catch up those few short miles, but as I write this the skipper’s briefing on the boats in front is ‘we must at
least maintain our lead.’”

Quadstone skipper Alex Phillips agrees. She said, “All we have to do is keep trimming and getting every last ounce out of the boat but once
we get down as far as Rio the winds become far more light and variable.

“There is the possibility of heat lows coming off the Brazilian coast which could catch the boats further inshore and slow them down for a
while.

“Our tactics are to stay a little bit further off-shore maybe to pick up the main core of the Brazilian current and just take it from there
really.There are a couple of thousand miles to go and anything could happen.”

For Conrad Humphreys, skipper of LG FLATRON, he has to try and keep hold of the lead he has held since day six.

“We are currently out in front with the pack behind snapping at our heels. We will just have to keep plugging away. At the moment it is just
a straight line drag race to Cabo Frio.

“It is quite tense though.”

Boat performance can be affected by many different things such as how much weight it is carrying.

“It’s a point of optimizing the position of the weight in the boat, you try to optimize the boat and the trim of the boat all the time. It’s a factor
whether you’re upwind or downwind. It’s not something you do once a week. You do it daily. Multiple times during the day,” said Stephen
Wilkins, skipper of Spirit of Hong Kong.

While Humphreys says in a one-design fleet keeping the boat light is one of only a few things that can be influenced.

“Other boat speed factors that we can change are helming, trimming and weight,” he added.

The anxiety of the position placing for the remainder of the leg is being felt throughout the fleet.

With every point vital to go towards their final race tally and a place on the podium at the end of the Race, each boat is anxious to make the
best possible headway to Buenos Aires.

Paul Dockrill, on BP, said, “I can tell you it'll be a tense week or more if we all stay in this proximity all the way to Buenos Aires.”

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