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Sailing: Spindrift takes pole position

After a thrilling exit on Sunday afternoon from Kiel, Germany, the leaders of Leg 1 of the MOD70 European Tour are now set to have their first real encounter as a racing fleet with very light winds.

The group endured a high-speed chase through the islands to the east of Denmark, an interlude of 27-30 knot headwinds in potentially boat-breaking conditions off Skagen point at the north corner.

Through the first 24 hours of this opening stage from Kiel to Dublin, via the English Channel, the fleet had already covered more than 450 of the 1238 miles, enjoying sustained bursts of 32-34 knots through the islands in the dark on Sunday evening.

However, an elongated high pressure system centred over the south of England and extending into the North Sea looks set to offer an entirely new challenge for the crews.

Winds over the next 24 hours may be as light as two or three knots for the new fleet of one design trimaran speedsters.

The only similarity to July's remarkable high-speed transatlantic dash, the KRYS Ocean Race, is that the same top three boats are presently led, once again, by Yann Guichard's Spindrift Racing, which managed to pass Michel Desjoyeaux's FONCIA team in the small hours of yesterday morning. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild was also just behind.