Have they broken clear? That is the question we are all asking as the Clipper 2002 fleet pick up a steady north easterly breeze.
The teams appear hopeful that this is the case, but the weather faxes they are receiving from New Orleans indicate they the ITCZ is still some way to the north of them.
There are however some funny 'going ons' out there. One boat, which for reasons below has not been named, has reported experiencing a large area of overfalls. The skipper comments: "As the depth here is over 3000m they can not be caused by features on the sea floor. There are also large areas of upwelling, which can be seen quite clearly as very calm patches of water.
"The most outstanding result of all this, at its peak this morning, is a 4 knot current in the right direction. It would seem that we have found the convergence of the Guiana current and the Equatorial counter current. Quite unusual to be sailing in 10 knots true wind from astern and be moving at 8.5 knots over the ground. I would love to share with the rest of the fleet but Mum's the word for the present. Gloating aside, its very hot - sea temp of 32.4'C, wind constant but light, cloud building, pressure falling. Fingers crossed that we have a painless crossing of the Doldrums!"
Today's tactical position is very significant and the fleet latitudes tell a more significant story than the current placings. Hong Kong Clipper in second place is 11 miles north of Jersey but her more easterly position puts her further from the finish. As this is still some 2,300 miles away the significance of the weather will be a more dominant factor. Glasgow and New York are tucked in behind these two and may well drop back a bit as the northern boats get the wind first.
Just over 20 miles further back on a 'Distance to Finish' (DTF) basis, Bristol and Liverpool are locked into combat on the eastern flank with London Clipper snapping at their heels. Conversely some 170 miles to the WSW, Cape Town has made a lunge towards the finish to the NW and has done well on reducing the DTF. They now split the trio to the east but their latitude still remains the most southerly by some considerable margin; will they get away with this tactic or will they see the others sail away while they rue their short term gain?
While the crews race hard in these tricky conditions the dolphins have been distracting them with magnificent displays. Do they really jump and show off for the benefit of others? Thanks to the fleet's great Olympus digital cameras we are expecting some stunning photographs to come from these displays.
We are now approaching the halfway stage in this 4,200 mile race. Today and tomorrow will be a critical time as we see the boats take up their positions to transit the Trades. Only the equivalent of another 4 Fastnet races and we will know the result as they arrive in New York.
Race 14 Positions 03:00 UCT
||Dist to Finish