Although Bristol Clipper has gained slightly, victory for the New Yorkers does seem fairly secure. The fat lady will not start singing until they are well and truly over the line, but at present speeds New York Clipper effectively has a five-hour lead on the second placed Bristolians.
It is amazing to think how decisions made soon after the race start can have such a profound effect. Resisting the temptation to go for an early lead, skipper Ross DANIEL and his crew played it by the book and headed to the north after leaving Table Bay. They held on despite the growing gap separating them from the rest of the fleet.
Only South African skipper Roger STEVEN JENNINGS and the Cape Town Clipper crew took the same decision, but both then reaped the rewards as the windless South Atlantic high-pressure system caught the boats to the south.
Cape Town also justly deserves a podium position. Having valiantly held second for so long, they eventually fell to Bristol but it is still close! At one point yesterday it even looked as though they might again take second, but overnight the wind strengthened tipping the balance in Bristol's favour and there is now 16 miles separating them.
But quite how Bristol Clipper came to be there is another story. Unlike Cape Town and New York they chose a much more southerly initial route and they too got caught by the high, but in a brilliant display of decisive action went due north as soon as they had wind to move them. In what looked at the time like an error in position reporting they drifted gently off at right angles to their desired course, barely making headway, but it was an improving situation and they too were soon back in the stronger breeze and soon outflanking the rest.
Rory GILLARD on London Clipper had been further north, but unfortunately chose that time to gybe to the west. The team passed close to Bristol's position before heading back towards the northwest. This served them well, but was not enough to prevent them falling in behind Bristol Clipper a couple of days later.
Glasgow, Hong Kong, Liverpool and Jersey did eventually escape, but by then the rest were over the horizon. Nobody can have felt worse served by this than the crew aboard Jersey Clipper. Having sailed a conservative middle route they suddenly found that the boats on either side had more wind than they did and they suffered a painfully slow few days before finally getting back in the fight.
And what a fight it has become! Glasgow Clipper has done well to pull slightly further ahead, but the three boats at the back have only 6 miles between them. This morning's report also shows Jersey edging just in front of Liverpool Clipper. By 0.1 miles! No-one likes being at the back of the fleet, but a finish as close as this one promises to be will keep the adrenaline pumping right to the wire.
Race 13 Positions 03:00, 17 July 2003
|Position||Yacht||Distance to Finish|