Skippered by Australian Andy Forbes, BG SPIRIT crossed the finish line in Boston 243 miles ahead in leg 5 of the Global Challenge

BG SPIRIT, skippered by Australian Andy Forbes, has won Leg 5 of the Global Challenge 2004/05 by an unusually large margin of 243 miles. They drifted across the line in light airs after a frustratingly slow approach on Saturday 4 June at 12:24:10 GMT.

Previous leg finishes were close, with the Challenge boats finishing within minutes of each other, and the race to Boston looked to be following suit. Three weeks after leaving Cape Town, the top seven yachts were still only 19 miles apart in terms of distance to finish. The lead was changing hands regularly without warning and leaderboard positions were slipping by as much as four or five places within six hours.

But BG SPIRIT’s decision to remain east of the fleet as a high pressure approached, gave them full advantage over the other boats. “We’ve never followed the pack,” said skipper Andy Forbes at the time, “these boats are so close now it’s hard to make up mileage so I think sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture and even though that might be the shortest distance, I think we can get a better run across the top.”

As the high pressure stalled most of the fleet, BG SPIRIT skirted across the top of it using the consistent breeze from the southwest to build a substantial lead.

After crossing the line skipper Andy explained: “When we made that choice to stay east, there was a small risk involved – it wasn’t a major risk – I still don’t really understand why the rest of the fleet piled into the [wind] hole that was there. We knew the hole wasn’t going to budge and you only had to be another 60 miles further east from where they were, which is where we stationed ourselves and we were gone.”

Incidentally, SAIC La Jolla had been with BG SPIRIT on the eastern flank, but decided to head back towards the fleet just a few days before the advantage of the position became apparent. Skipper Eero Lehtinen commented at the time: “What can I say? We got this all wrong by not spotting the way out of here early enough.”

Initially BG SPIRIT slipped from first to fourth but in a period of 48 hours they shot back into first and developed a lead of almost 40 miles. An impressive achievement in itself, but their advantage continued to grow – four weeks in to the leg they pulled ahead by over 130 miles in a 24-hour period, extending their lead to almost 200 miles. “We didn’t expect it to pay off as much as it has done,” said Andy. “We moved into different weather systems and it was pretty much all done and dusted. For some reason our lead just kept extending and extending – it was an amazing feeling.”

Barclays Adventurer finished 38 hours behind BG SPIRIT at 02:24:10 6 June, followed by VAIO and SAIC La Jolla.

Leg 5 results


2. Barclays Adventurer


4. SAIC La Jolla

5. BP Explorer

6. Spirit of Sark

7. Imagine It. Done.

8. Team Stelmar

9. Me to You

10. Samsung

11. Team Save the Children (still to finish)

12. Pindar (still to finish)