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Whitbread Log: Leg 5, Auckland to São Sebastião
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  Paul predicts another can of "woop ass" for us against the other boats for the next sked.
Day 18 - Feb. 18, 1998

0432 GMT
44° 04'S, 058° 12'W

Miles to São Sebastião: 1,368

Place: 1st; distance ahead of 2nd-place boat: 473 miles

From: Mark Rudiger, Navigator, EF Language

Race of a different kind.

After a hair-burning, damn-the-torpedos downwind screamer a few days ago — where a 1-mile gain was more important than bergie bits, fatigue or food — we have settled into a race of a different kind. Now we know that with a 400-hundred mile lead, the hundreds of little unknowns are just lurking waiting to rain on our parade.

We have to be extra cautious about every decision and manouevre, and comb over the rig and steering with a fine-tooth comb. We are on constant radar watch, even when clear and radios on. Paul and I have been scrutinizing the fickle weather ahead looking for any sign of potholes. 1500 miles is still a long way and plenty can happen.

At the moment, however, we continue to be blessed with ESE winds of 14 to 17 knots and have just entered the north flowing Falkland current, adding 2 knots to our already 11+ knot average towards the mark. Paul predicts another can of "woop ass" for us against the other boats for the next sked. This current could help us for another 300 miles before we run into the southbound Brazil current, which we will try to avoid the brunt of by heading offshore.

The guys are starting to get a little restless since we havn't had a sail change in 48 hours. In spite of predictions, the wind won't shift. They're not complaining too much, as it is giving us good easy miles to the mark. We all remember what happened to Dickson when he was leading at this point last time, so we don't need any big headwinds to challenge our rig.

Running with this cold-water current (53 °F, 12 °C), it's still a little chilly out, but we officially gave our little heater big praise and put it away with the heavy woolies and gloves. I'm convinced our improved gear and heater helped our spirits and, hence, our performance. It won't be long before the shorts will come out and six guys will be negotiating for two fans.

Mark Rudiger  
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Leg 5 positions at 1200 GMT today:
  1. EF Language (P. Cayard, skipper)
  2. Innovation Kvaerner
  3. Swedish Match
  4. Merit Cup
  5. Toshiba
  6. BrunelSunergy
  7. Chessie Racing
  8. Silk Cut
  9. EF Education
* Aggregate points total, including points scored for the first, second, third and fourth legs and points for the fifth leg according to current positions.

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