At present the yachts are still experiencing a brisk, fast run with the wind having backed to the south west. Looking at the next 24 hours the southerly boats will need to be careful of a light patch, which is encroaching further south. James ALLEN current lead skipper aboard Me to You is well aware of this and told us his plan is to: 'Head north west to avoid upcoming light winds patch.'
Still the furthest northerly yacht and building her way back through the fleet is Dee CAFFARI and her team aboard Imagine It. Done who explained: 'We are trying to make the best course now we are far enough north to avoid the large area of no wind that is approaching. After a light 12 hours this afternoon we shall encounter a stronger breeze again hopefully before the other yachts do. Then we'll aim to be on the southerly tack again until we plan a route around the next weather system.'
Samsung and Pindar may be nearer the back of the fleet - tenth and eleventh respectively - but have experienced the fastest 24-hour runs of 7.8 and 7.5 knots. Samsung have seen the threatening light winds approaching, Matt RIDDELL explaining: 'We're heading northwest to avoid the developing high centre to the south of the rhumb line.'
Heading north west seems to be a popular vantage point for the fleet. Andy FORBES told us they were going to: 'keep heading north west. Awaiting shift from NNW tack on the shift and start all over again.'
The crew may have had a bit of a battering the past few days, as they get used to everything the Southern Ocean can throw at them, but apart from the grey skies and the endless seas the first couple of yachts have had their first taste of the Southern Lights.
Also known by their proper name as The Aurora Australis (or Southern Lights) they are lights from atoms, molecules and ions, which correlate with the earth's magnetic field lines, creating a magnificent display of beautiful, low, lights. Tony BOTTERIL, crew-member on BP Explorer in 2000/01 told us: 'one evening we looked up and the whole sky was green with the southern lights. It was dancing around like a curtain, so serene and so peaceful that you could almost look up at the sky and forget where you are, before focusing back in on the boat as it shoots off a sixty foot wave and crashes back down into the next one.'
David MELVILLE, skipper of BP Explorer in this race was obviously also keen to see the lights and told us: 'Having gone south to see the Southern Lights (we were not disappointed).' Andy FORBES, skipper of BG SPIRIT also commented how his crew saw, 'the Southern Lights in all their glory last night.'
SAIC La Jolla's skipper, Eero LEHTINEN was in both reflective and positive mood earlier, explaining: 'The game is still wide open and I believe will stay like it for weeks. There's a chance for a bit of a reshuffle/stretch now but as we know from before, restarts happen...'
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