Yesterday afternoon saw a dramatic change of fortunes for the leaders, as Jersey snuck in ahead of Bristol in very light conditions. Both yachts found they had drifted out of the current and gybed back offshore a few hundred metres apart.
Jersey Clipper was first to get back on the conveyor belt and soon opened out a lead of over a mile. At 15:00 yesterday Bristol's Richard Butler stated the true wind was northerly 3 knots, their boat speed through the water was 1.3 knots and their speed over the ground was 6.1 knots.
After a calm night of hunting the main current, Jersey had opened out a 10 mile lead but just one slip and Bristol will regain the lead. It is decision time as the two rivals approach the Aghulas Bank and their friendly current turns south west round the bank and away from the westerly course they need for Cape Point.
Jersey will try and cover Bristol and conversely Bristol will be trying to regain the lead by taking a different approach to the same problem. With over a hundred mile gap to third placed London Clipper, Richard Butler will not be looking astern.
Whether it is fun and games at the front, or just outright warfare, there is also plenty of action further back. Rory Gillard in London and Ross Daniel in New York are taking their friendly rivalry to the limit. Having been moved out of third place 36 hours ago when Rory took London round the north of them, the gap opened up some 10 miles. As dawn breaks this morning London will see New York a couple of miles astern after their top scoring 122 mile during the last 12 hours; they mean to even the account.
Liverpool Clipper, who have been following the 1,000 metre contour, have had a better period than the others and have probably ridden the current more successfully. Their 12 hour run of 88 miles has been enough to move them ahead of Cape Town Clipper, who are further inshore.
Glasgow Clipper remains more to seaward and is close behind the local team on a distance to run basis. Justin Taylor sounded in remarkably good form and Hong Kong Clipper continue their spirited chase, this time closing the leaders by another 30 miles in 12 hours.
The weather remains under the influence of the high pressure area over Southern Africa. This has managed to keep the 'Lows' to the south. The result is glorious sunshine and weather in the area, although the winds are fairly variable. This will mean the ETAs will be difficult to predict but now that the leaders have slowed down it is looking as though they may arrive in daylight on Saturday morning.
If this was to happen it would be quite out of character from the normal 03:00 arrival. If the others made good progress, London and New York could finish late on Saturday or during the night. I suspect the others to arrive throughout Sunday. There is also a possibility of them getting stuck on the various Capes while all the supporters enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the Royal Cape Yacht Club.
Clipper 2002 - Race 12 Positions
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)