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7 December 2005, 11:51 am
Going Back Up The Hill
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Clipper Round The World Yacht Race 2005-2006

Over the next 24 hours, the skippers throughout the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet should see their "Bearing to Waypoint" output on their GPS sets go from 91 degrees to 90 and then to just under 89 degrees. This means that they are now as far south as they need to go (Great Circle Route wise, not counting any lateral movement required for meteorological or tactical reasons) and start coming "back up" towards Fremantle, Australia.
This will be an important psychological marker for the journey from Durban, South Africa, and will also serve to remind the crews about the most important part of the race - the finish.

Going back to the start of the race, the first few days were marked by quite variable weather, caused by two major sources - the continent of Africa, and the western edge of the South Indian Ocean High. At the finish, the weather will become variable again - due to the effect of the continent (island?) of Australia and the eastern edge of the same high. The illustration shows the rough outline of the ridge going from the high towards Australia, and this goes right over Fremantle itself. This means that as the fleet approaches the coast they will have less constant breeze, and will also have to contend with the swirls and eddies of current that will occur as the Southern Ocean current is deflected by the continental shelf.

This is the place where large losses or gains will be made. The current position is giving the fleet great sailing conditions, but not that many passing opportunities. This is because the wind is relatively constant over the fleet, so that most gains or losses will be incremental rather than massive. So the leaders will be hoping to hit the last couple of days of the race with as large a buffer as possible, and those trying to catch up will be paying close attention to the yachts ahead, and if any of them 'park up' they will try and sail round that particular hole in the wind.

Over the last 24 hours the leaderboard has been reasonably stable. Jersey Clipper are no longer the most southern yacht, and over the last 48 hours have moved up from eighth to fifth, and are a whole mile behind Qingdao in fourth position, which will be welcome news for Mark TAYLOR and his crew, if somewhat worrying for Danny WATSON on Qingdao. Durban and Victoria are still leading the mileage runs, with Durban just ahead and just over 2,000 nm from the finish, but Glasgow, Western Australia and New York are all averaging over ten knots, so the difference in speed is minimal. This is where concentration pays such a large part. If your boat sails one hundredth of a knot faster, on average, that equates to 1.68 miles per week. Over a three week race that is a shade under five miles - looking at the closeness of some of the finishes so far that could make a two point difference at the end of the race.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image Durban Clipper are leading the race to Freemantle:© Clipper Ventures Plc
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