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30 December 2002, 10:49 am
Glasgow Takes the Lead on Leg 4
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© Jim Malcolm

Clipper 2002 Round the World Race

Over the last 12 hours there has been an interesting split in the fleet. The wind has been blowing 20 knots from the north and London, Jersey and New York have taken advantage of this to blast downwind to the south.

Glasgow however has chosen a slightly different tactic by heading a little more to the west and now sits about 50 miles to the north west of the southern group. Although it remains to be seen if this will prove a successful tactic in the long run, for today it has pushed them into first position just over 4 miles closer to the finish line off the island of Santa Cruz.

The wind is however easing, and this will continue as the boats head further south. One could assume that this will favour the northern pack who should keep the wind for longer, however it has to be said that currently this looks unlikely. As the wind eases, it should also swing to the south, thus enabling the southern pack to set a good course to the islands whilst those to the north find themselves directly down wind of their target.

The Admiralty Pilot for the area recommends that sailing ships leaving the gulf of Panama should head south, clearing the light winds of the Gulf to find the steadier south east trades. The reason for this is a meteorological landmark called the ITCZ (Inter-Tropical convergence zone) or doldrums, of which the crews have already experienced a taste. A belt of variable winds exists at the point where the south east and north east trade winds meet, currently about 5 degrees north of the equator. The southern boats will hope to break through this first and gain the benefit of the steadier breezes to follow.

That at least is the theory!

Tim Hedges/ISAF Secretariat
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