The difference between the northern boats and the southern (west is best) boats over the last twenty-four hours has again become greater.
As light airs have plagued all parties over the last few days, the last twenty-four hours have seen a significant increase in breeze in the favour of the northernmost boats.
The leading pack are now benefiting from a fresh north-north-westerly breeze at present, which is helping them to not only make a direct course for Yokohama but also to pull away from the southern boats where the wind has finally began to fill in.
Commenting earlier this morning Richard Butler aboard Bristol Clipper said: "This really isn't going according to plan with the northern boats making lots of progress and us and Jersey much less. Even so the next couple of days look much better for us, but it will take quite a lot to recover from the last couple of days. However, its not over until it's over and we've still got a long way to go in which to recover."
New York Clipper has been able to make the most of what some may have considered quite a daring move earlier in the week, by heading north to cover the leading group much sooner than expected. This has proved most beneficial for Sam and her New York crew, earning the greatest distance run over the past twenty-four hours with a distance of 176 nautical miles.
New York's run only narrowly pipped Hong Kong though, who were the only other boat to reach the 170+ mark. Knowing full well that they must keep London and Glasgow within striking distance, there are no signs of let up aboard Hong Kong.
The London Clipper crew, led by Rory Gillard, have been able to consolidate their lead once more - but for how long? The lead has changed back and forth between the top three boats many times over the last ten to twelve days and the following group are by no means going to let newcomer Rory out of their sights.
Meanwhile the Cape Town Clipper crew are still battling hard and have been a little unfortunate to not benefit from the breeze increases further north of them as yet. It will be interesting to see how their position changes over the next forty-eight hours as a cold front is expected to pass, which may see them once more in a favourable position. This may also see the leading group returning to a more southerly heading.
Liverpool Clipper has been extremely consistent throughout all of the sparring of the leading group. Their daily runs show them to have been affected with almost the same weather conditions as the frontrunners and they have not lost any ground on the leading group.
So it's fingers crossed for the wind to stay this time as the yachts close on their destination of Yokohama and it's still wide open as to who will have a podium finish...
03:00 UTC 26 February 2003
||DTF (Nautical Miles)