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 You are in: Special Events: 2001: MacArthur in the Mondial  
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  Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK
Day 9: Fight for the lead
Day Nine at 0900GMT

Belgacom has taken over the lead of the Challenge Mondial from long-time front-runner Groupama.

Groupama has been relegated to third, with Bayer moving up to just six miles behind the new leader.

Ellen MacArthur's Foncia-Kingfisher passed through the Straits of Gibraltar in fourth position at 0630 GMT, but the first four boats are still sailing within 10 miles of each other.

Since entering the Mediterranean, the fleet is once again progressing in slow motion.

Groupama and Foncia-Kingfisher are sticking to the north along the Spanish coast while Belgacom and Bayer have headed further south, offshore.

Gitana IX is continuing to catch up the other competitors but for the last few hours has also been slowed down by an area of low pressure.

She should pass through the Straits sometime during the day.

With 450 miles to go to Tarragona and taking into account the unstable weather conditions, the sailors are preferring not to make any guesses about when they are likely to finish.

If the head of the fleet is once again very tight, it is thanks to Groupama.

Having stretched out a lead of more than 20 miles, Franck Cammas' crew were forced to drop anchor on Saturday night in the shelter of Tarifa following a problem with the mainsail headboard.

After repairs lasting seven hours, the boat was able to set off again but had lost first place.

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