As the Clipper fleet pass to the north of the Virgin Islands on the second race of leg one to Cuba, it is worth reflecting on the background and experience of the crews on board.
Men and women of different ages from all walks of life, many of whom were sailing novices prior to their Clipper training. All have one thing in common though - the desire to do something different, to take part in an event that they will look back on for the rest of their lives. As they approach the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos, the Clipper crews can feel justly proud to have passed a major milestone and completed their first ocean crossing.
Racing remains tight. The wind has freshened somewhat throughout the fleet and the weather has cleared. There is a steady force 4 with fewer squalls and all the eight teams have all been making respectable speeds.
New York's lead remains good, whilst further to the south-east London and Bristol remain close. Bristol Clipper has retained the edge after a weekend of battling with Chris Hazeldene's London crew, with duty skipper Richard Butler reporting good downwind sailing in truly tropical heat.
Race one winner, Hong Kong Clipper, is also now well placed to join the fray. Although nearly 100 miles to the north, their distance to go is just 2.6 miles more than London. As they are out on a wing, experiencing potentially different conditions, they could well be a strong contender to overtake both London and Bristol.
Jersey Clipper's position in 5th seems reasonably static at the moment, but behind them Liverpool and Glasgow continue to joust with just 3 miles in Liverpool's favour and both still have Cape Town persistently snapping at their heels.
Sadly over the next few days the wind is forecast to go very light in deed, initially staying in the south-east before swinging round to the north east off the Cuban coast. In these light winds the boats that have to sail dead down wind will be at a distinct disadvantage whilst New York and Hong Kong will at least have the breeze slightly off to one side so giving them some power, though eventually they too will have no choice but to turn north west to avoid making an unscheduled stop on a Caribbean beach!
Positions at 0400 GMT, 02/12/02