BG SPIRIT had been enjoying a rare lead of 14nm until this afternoon. Duggie Gillespie and his crew aboard Spirit of Sark have relegated them to 2nd, edging in front by a fragile 2nm. BP Explorer, skippered by David Melville, is just behind in 3rd and Clive Cosby's Team Stelmar is also in immediate contention in 4th.
The teams are still enjoying the relatively warm winds of an increasingly intense high-pressure system, and most are currently experiencing around 30 knots from the northeast. When the front does pass over the fleet, the wind will back sharply to the west, and airs originating from further south will cause temperatures to plummet, although reports of falling temperatures have already started coming in.
The present forecast for rounding the Horn will not disappoint crews hoping for a ride to remember as they pass the notorious landmark. Winds will gradually intensify as they head south, with everything coming from the west or southwest. By Sunday, there will be westerly winds up to 40 knots at Cape Horn, which should coincide with the teams passing the Cape on Monday.
The initial baptism of fire as they turn into the Southern Ocean for the first time looks set to be followed by a patch of light and variable winds from Tuesday next week. While this will be frustrating, it may also come as a welcome respite after a bumpy ride round the Horn.
QUOTES FROM THE FLEET
STUART JACKSON - BARCLAYS ADVENTURER
'We are staying on this gybe to take us west in anticipation of the front coming through and the wind backing to the west, giving us a favourable wind angle to pass the Falklands to the west.'
DEE CAFFARI - IMAGINE IT. DONE.
'Frustrating weather, but at times it rewards us with some great downwind sailing in 20-25 knots of breeze. The patches of light breeze have aappeared more often than we had thought, but with perseverance we battled through, just keeping the boat moving until the breeze filled in again.
'As far as the tactics go now, we are planning for the breeze to back around to the west. We will then be able to bear away towards the rhumb line and sail a fast course. There are blank areas ahead so we will need to keep track of them. Our nearest yacht is only 5 miles away so the racing is still really close.'
DAVID MELVILLE - BP EXPLORER
'With the fleet spread so wide, it is impossible to cover the entire fleet. Light winds slowed us down overnight, allowing BG SPIRIT, in stronger winds to the west, to gain on us.'
1. Spirit of Sark 5,073
2. BG SPIRIT 5,075
3. BP Explorer 5,078
4. Team Stelmar 5,080
5. Barclays Adventurer 5,083
6. VAIO 5,086
7. Me to You 5,088
8. Samsung 5,093
9. SAIC La Jolla 5,100
10. Imagine It. Done 5,109
11. Team Save the Children 5,130
12. Pindar 5,149