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22 May 2003, 01:41 pm
Troubled Times Ahead
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Clipper 2002/2003 Round the World Race
Singapore - Mauritius

Conditions over the last few days have been ideal with the teams making over 200 miles a day and eating up the miles between them and Mauritius. Their ETA of 28 May began to look achievable, despite the delayed start, but there are troubled winds ahead.

The Trade Winds of the Indian Ocean are supposedly amongst the most reliable on the planet, but even here their strength can vary. The 2000 race produced tales of monster daily runs, high speed surfing and broken boats. In 1998 we had a distinct lack of wind (though were further north going to the Seychelles) whilst from the 1996 race Colin DE MOWBRAY delights in relating tales of their brush with a typhoon.

Nothing as dramatic this time, just good speeds and good sailing. Duty skipper Justin TAYLOR reports from Hong Kong that the wind is currently blowing 15knots from the east south east, giving them about 9 and a half knots reaching with the medium weight spinnaker. There have been a few squalls, just enough to keep the crews on their toes, and their sail changing skills will be finely tuned as they peel from one spinnaker to the other, occasionally dropping them altogether as a particularly heavy one goes through.

Bristol retain their lead but only just, and with 20 miles separating first from last the competition remains intense. Jersey and Hong Kong are neck and neck, if you can forget the 0.2 of a mile between them for a moment, with Cape Town just a mile behind New York who had a storming day yesterday and are now in 5th place. Liverpool are locked firmly to Bristol's heels whilst Glasgow has managed to get one up on London and is now in 7th place.

There has been some damage though. Hong Kong discovered a large rip in their lightweight kite, they reckon about 24 hours worth of repair time, and Cape Town have had to do some remedial work to the head of their AP (another name for medium weight meaning All Purpose). But the prize has to go to Jersey who managed to comprehensively damage a sail (though they have asked me not to say which one!), repair it, then do it again, and still hold on to third place.

But all may change. The area around Mauritius is showing a distinct lack of breeze, whilst just to the south there are strong winds from the west. Though this area is still a few days ahead, it could well shake things up a bit in this exceptionally close race.

Pos Yacht Lat Long Dist to Finish Dist to Leader 24 Hour Run Prev Pos
1 Bristol 17 50S 82 47E 1441 0 202 1
2 Liverpool 17 42S 82 48E 1443 2.2 212 2
3 Jersey 18 13S 82 55E 1445.4 3.8 204 3
4 Hong Kong 17 43S 82 47E 1445.6 4 210 4
5 New York 17 20S 82 51E 1450 9 210 5
6 Cape Town 17 46S 82 57E 1451 10 204 6
7 Glasgow 17 38S 83 04E 1459 18 212 8
8 London 17 24S 83 04E 1462 20.5 203 7
Tim Hedges (As Amended by ISAF Secretariat)
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