There are two big winners today. London Clipper's sweep to the north has produced dividends and Rory Gillard has been paid the complement of having most of the rest of the fleet following him.
On a 'Distance to Go' basis Rory's early move has made all the difference and gives him a comfortable 64-mile race lead.
Bristol's southern charge yesterday, with Jersey astern, looked as though it was going to be a decisive move in this race - then they stopped. Jersey Clipper on the other hand has continued well in the south and had a 24 hour run of over 150; a massive achievement in these conditions and over double the score many of the boats to the north.
Glasgow Clipper's Rupert Parkhouse explains in his report that their destiny at the moment is very much determined by the wind which has filled in from the WSW. "We don't want to go south, so whether we like it or not we are now heading up to the north." Bristol Clipper on the other hand has light northerly winds that they need to keep on the beam for maximum effect and so are stuck with their westerly course.
Both Bristol and Jersey think it is too early to go north and expect (hope!) the others will continue to get head winds. This may be the case but one thing that is certain is that the two lone rangers in the south have a knot of friendly current and those in the north are now experiencing an adverse current. If these rates are just 1 knot the combined difference is 48 miles a day. With these very small daily runs this is like winning the jackpot.
All the yachts have information from the previous race where interestingly London Clipper was the champion of the south. Their present northern bias may well be prompted by their slight deficiencies in the spinnaker department. Crew member Caroline Chapman tells of the demise of their spinnaker on the London Clipper diary page at www.clipper-ventures.com.
In the Clipper 2000/1 race, the fleet were two weeks earlier and held onto their wind much better. The race was decided right in the last few miles when Bristol stole it away from Jersey, both boats had chosen a course through the middle of the fleet. Leeds (now Hong Kong) remained doggedly in the south and then had a hard beat north which made them very late at the bar.
Rupert Parkhouse says that they are now at the stage that wind from any direction will be welcome, but realistically they will not be picking up much breeze for a couple of days yet. A good weather website, with comprehensive charts and satellite images, is the Japan Metrology Authority (JMA) at www.jma.go.jp
There is precious little shipping around in the area but the wildlife continues to amaze everyone. Numerous sightings have been made of different kinds of whales and bird life has included varieties of Albatrosses and Red Footed Boobies with blue beaks. The presence of all the marine life can be an important clue to other factors such as ocean currents. Often the fish will be found on the edge of the currents that in turn are marked by the birds and other marine life.
With just over 1,500 miles to run, the Clippers now have 11 days to make their estimated arrival time. When the wind returns this should be no problem - watch this space!
03:00 UTC 25 February 2003
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)