Last night was a busy one fleet wide and as the eight Clipper yachts sail further south, the winds are coming back.
After a fairly pleasant day of lightweight spinnaker sailing, Richard BUTLER reported that, as usual, it was right at dinnertime that the squalls and the rain started to appear, making the sailing conditions a little more interesting!
The Bristol skipper was not alone in this and New York Skipper Ross Daniel excitedly apologised to the Race Office last night as we were chasing race positions that were late in. "It's just that it's all a bit exciting round here at the moment!" True to form, 'Roscoe' had been pushing hard to gain back some lost miles; this is one skipper who certainly takes no pleasure at being at the back of the fleet.
When things had calmed down enough for him to send through the positions, he reported that "the wind started to get up at early evening last night, everyone was hanging on to their heavyweights for as long as they could but eventually when we were heading at India it was time for it to come down - but not before some good fun with it with some big surfs. We are now white sail reaching with the wind at 25-30 knots as this trough moves through."
The gap is closing between the front and the back of the fleet, but with just over 50 miles between the Northerly and Southerly boats, it remains to be seen if the boys' gamble up North will pay off.
The gang in the South are experiencing similar weather conditions. With squalls plaguing the evenings, the skippers and crews will be settling back into nights of nervous sleep, waiting for the next call to bring a spinnaker down in a hurry. These are just the sorts of conditions that may bring stories of sail repair with them, but will anyone tell if they have suffered from sail damage?
Skippers are becoming increasingly guarded about their 'little excitements' on the radio schedules for obvious tactical reasons. It is always interesting to listen to these stories once the fleet reaches port. Just how busy the sail repairers will be in Mauritius, only time will tell...
Sitting nicely in the middle of the fleet, Liverpool, Hong Kong, Cape Town currently have our attention. Adam KYFFIN and his crew aboard Liverpool Clipper are all obviously relishing the recent feistier conditions to sail in and are holding their second position well. Meanwhile Hong Kong and Cape Town will have been sailing as fast as they can to keep a cover over London and New York in the North. Their progress is certainly worth watching over the next few days.
Last to mention is Glasgow Clipper "holding onto the coat tails of the fleet,"
ever relaxed in his approach, skipper Rupert reported that his crew were "having a lovely sail at the moment and are all happy."
He hasn't fooled us however and the Glaswegians have been making their way into that middle pack, gaining miles here and there over the last 24 hours.
We've not yet reached the halfway stage though, so we will undoubtedly see these positions change a few more times on this race to Mauritius.
Clipper 2002 - Race 11 Positions
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)