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4 December 2005, 06:35 pm
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Clipper Round The World Yacht Race 2005-2006

Victoria and Jersey Clippers have both edged further south overnight, and this seems to have paid immediate dividends for them. As the fleet picks up stronger winds from the west, the speeds are increasing, with Glasgow reporting 27.3 knots last night, only to be trumped by Jersey at 29.1 knots.
There has definitely not been steady breeze across the fleet, however, and this is reflected in the range of distances run, from 95 through to 120 miles over the last 12 hours.

Qingdao and Western Australia are right on top of each other, and will be match racing until either David PRYCE, skipper of Western Australia, or Danny WATSON, skipper of Qingdao, decides that enough is enough and changes course slightly to separate. Some boats prefer direct racing, as it sharpens you up, but others prefer to have their own bit of ocean so as not to be continually second guessing sail choices or techniques.

Over the next couple of days the fleet has quite an important weather decision to make. Between the South Indian Ocean high and the low moving to the east underneath it there seems to be a definite corridor of wind developing over the next few days. This is directly in front of the fleet, and the trick will be to get positioned firmly in the middle of the steadiest part of it. So far the southerly duo of Victoria and Jersey has picked up the start of this, but staying south may be a risky option, as too far south means falling out of the best wind.

This is a good illustration of the way that the skippers place their yachts. Short range forecasts are reasonably accurate up to about 3 days ahead, and the yachts receive a data set every two days which gives them a forecast from 24 to 96 hours ahead. However, before the start of each race the general weather trends are studied in as much detail as possible so that the overall strategy for the yacht's route is designed to put the her in the region where there is most likely to be wind. Looking at the fleet's position with respect to the short term forecast, it looks as if all the boats have got this right, with all of them set to sail into good breeze.
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