News from the Clipper 2002 fleet today is that everything is becoming a bit hot mid-Atlantic and it's not just because the racing is so close either; the winds have already turned a little lighter. Could this be the start of the dreaded doldrums?
Glasgow Clipper's skipper, Rupert PARKHOUSE, reported this morning that they are sailing in clear skies with a South - South-easterly breeze on smooth seas. As idyllic as this may sound it is the kind of stuff that after a while can taunt sailors. It may be bearable now, but all eight teams will be dreading the time when the breeze lightens even more and that awful 'slap slapping' sound of the sails begins once more. The Clipper fleet has little choice but to grin and bear it though, as New York is the next port and the doldrums lie in between.
Jersey, Bristol, London and New York Clippers are all now heading up, having turned their course in a more Northerly direction. By doing this, they are making more apparent wind as they steer a course closer on the breeze. This will increase their boat speed and fill the lightweight spinnakers that they are now flying just that little bit more. The theory being that the first boat to get through the ITCZ, could well be the first boat throwing their lines ashore.
Reaching the North East trade winds first will certainly be an important factor in this next phase of the route from Salvador to New York and the race is on to see who does this. Jersey Clipper retains her position at the head of the fleet this morning, having established a nice lead over the newly second placed Hong Kong Clipper.
Slipping into third, Glasgow Clipper has taken a slightly more North of West course over the last twelve hours, but we know the Scots will not give in easily now that they are in the front half of the pack and they will be holding on tight. Skipper Rupert reports: "We have the lightweight up, lightweight sheet on and spi pole as low as it can go on the mast track; we are set up for these light winds even though they did arrive a little sooner than I anticipated."
Close on the tail of Glasgow Clipper, Adam KYFFIN and the crew of Liverpool Clipper have had a busier 24 hours than most. Liverpool's AP spinnaker has had a terrible 'headache' for the last couple of days - but sail repairer Mike SHEPHERD and his team have now finished their work. Sailing further West, it looks as though Adam has his eye on Bristol Clipper. Currently 3 miles behind Glasgow and 3 miles ahead of Bristol, the Scousers will not want to let the Bristolians pass.
Bristol's skipper, Richard BUTLER, has different ideas though and now seems a little happier with his position in the fleet. He is however only going to settle for one scalp in this race and it sounds like he is getting ready to pounce on his favourite prey - Jersey Clipper. "The lunchtime sched was OK, the midnight one better. We are only 22 miles behind Jersey, but more significantly on a very similar latitude. We can sort out the westing later. For now, north really is best. The furthest north boat is the one most likely to romp out of the doldrums first and sail away."
Rory GILLARD and his crew on London Clipper are also chasing hard and look set to fight all the way to New York. Further back, approximately 20 and 40 miles behind are New York and Cape Town. At first look like they are suffering, although their daily runs are as many miles and sometimes more than the rest of the fleet. Both Roger and Ross will be watching hard for the frontrunners to slow down as they hit the doldrums. Ideally they will be hoping to catch up at that point and mix with the fleet once more.
Race 14 Positions at 0300 UCT
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