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Ocean racers neck-and-neck

Feb. 1 — Competition is stiff in the 2005–’06 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race with the second to sixth place boats Tuesday morning separated by only one mile each. The sixth race in the overall competition, from Singapore to Qingdao, China, kicked off Friday.

Team Uniquely Singapore reported the largest net gain Monday, having gone from the sixth position to first by the afternoon, according to information on the race Web site. Uniquely Singapore later slipped to second place four miles behind team

“The South China Sea certainly has its fair share of hazards and obstacles: We’ve had to zigzag around huge drift nets with strobe lights flickering as they threaten to ensnare us as well as tuna,” team says in a log posted on the site. “There are shoals and shallows and unlit fishing boats everywhere. And then there is the rest of the fleet to compare ourselves with — the minute we consider a sail change, guaranteed the boats closest to us will do one. Or if we are checking trim at night with torches, then flashes of light appear on their sails, too.”

Ten teams made up of professional and amateur sailors aboard identical 68-foot boats are competing in the race, which began in Liverpool, England, in September 2005. After making 11 stops, the fleet will finish the race back in Liverpool in September 2006. The teams are expected to complete the 2,722 miles to Qingdao by Feb. 13.

— Jason Fell