Last night the fleet remained close, some using lightweight spinnakers, some windseekers and others their Yankee 1 headsails; all trying to eke the most out of the 6-7 knots true wind that they were sailing in.
This morning it appears that King Neptune has enjoyed playing with this chess board of yachts and allowed some to utilise favourable clouds to dash South and left others with clear blue skies; great for the suntans but not good for extra wind!
Duty Skipper Ross DANIEL on New York Clipper reports today that the fleet has remained in two packs, but that they have separated out overnight with the Southern pack consisting of London, Jersey, Glasgow, New York and Liverpool managing to escape 15 miles further South. Fleet Victualler Vicky MARGERRISON aboard Liverpool Clipper excitedly wrote this morning that the sailing was rather "wet and squally - but we have wind!?"
As skipper Richard BUTLER on board Bristol Clipper rightly points out, making this much Southing might not look too good on the 'Distance To Go' for this pack of boats, but he has asked his supporters back home not to start rejoicing yet. Although he appears to be out in front, there is a long way to go and the more Southerly course that this second pack has taken, compared with his team, Hong Kong and Cape Town Clipper, may pay dividends as they could well get to those all important trade winds first.
One boat certainly hoping to prove Richard wrong will be Cape Town Clipper. Not much news has filtered in from them over the past twelve hours, but perhaps this was because they have been too busy trimming. As this morning's sched shows, they rather like their promotion to the top half of the fleet and their current second place will be one the crew will be desperate to keep hold of. We can be sure that the radar watch will be in full swing as Roger STEVEN-JENNINGS and his crew try to play each cloud successfully and avoid the squalls.
For now, it seems that the light wind experts will have to stick to what they know however, reportedly the breeze dropped off a little last night but skipper Ross reports that it was a beautiful night with an amazingly bright moon to trim the kite by. Making a steady 6 knots he is happy, but like the rest of the fleet, the New York Crew can't wait to get their heavyweight spinnakers out once more.
Hang in there boys, the rolling waves and the trades are on their way!
The trade winds will hopefully play a large part in this race to Mauritius and the crews who are perhaps feeling that they have had enough of light wind sailing for a while could get a real treat. Keep watching, soon the fleet should be clocking up bigger daily runs and faster speeds than they have for Leg 4 so far as the South Easterlies kick in and they start their sleigh ride towards Port Louis.
Race 11 Positions at 04:00, 15 May 2003