Another milestone has been smashed this morning by the Clipper 2002 fleet; the eight yachts now have less than one thousand nautical miles left to reach the conclusion of Race 12 to Cape Town.
The weather has been kind over the last 12 hours. Despite many sail changes as the winds continued to fluctuate slightly, all of the boats have been moving nicely and in the majority will be flying spinnakers once more. So it is under partly cloudy skies that the eight boats truck onwards towards Cape Town, sailing with Northerly winds of 25 to 30 knots.
Bristol Clipper has managed to hold off their main rivals in the last 24 hours of racing. Still 18 miles behind the leader, Jersey Clipper has certainly joined the drag race towards the Agulhas Current. Remembering the three phases of Richard's race plan, he is desperate to win the race to phase two - get to the current first and start the sleigh ride South. But is 18 miles far enough to hold off Simon Rowell and the eager Jersey crew?
As the two frontrunners race west to get to this illusive current, Cape Town and London have both decided to join them, believing 'west is best' is the strategy to win with at the moment. The crew of Cape Town Clipper have coined this as 'the Marvin plan,' as Marvin Sampson, the South African Development sailor on board for Leg 5, has willingly put his name to the route he and his skipper believe in.
Skipper Roger STEVEN-JENNINGS, from Plumstead S.A., comments: "If we make straight for home then there is every chance that we will encounter strong south westerly winds and on the other hand if we head west, the trip will be longer, but we could enjoy fairer winds which combined with the southerly running Agulhas current could put us in a much stronger position. In the event we have adopted 'The Marvin Plan.' Marvin has spent a considerable amount of time with a calculator and his in-depth analysis agrees that a route taken towards a point just south of Durban would be best."
Not capitulating to 'the Marvin Plan,' the rest of the fleet has taken a dive South. Cutting the corner could make the distance to travel seem less, but when will these yachts get to the current?
Hong Kong Clipper, although still in eighth position, firmly believe that they are back in the race. "We have Cape Town, London and Glasgow firmly within our sights and with 800 miles to go, we are feeling more than optimistic so don't write us off yet," said skipper Justin.
Also having a good run of it at the moment are Ross and his crew aboard New York Clipper. A man of few words, Ross seems to be happily sailing along, consistently. Although losing a few miles in the past 12 hours, they should be commended for their race so far. The New Yorkers are certainly ones to watch, although can they hold off their ever present shadow of Liverpool Clipper?
Adam KYFFIN will not be keen to lose many more miles in the next day, after having had to sacrifice a bit of speed over the past day to carry out repairs to the headboard of Liverpool Clipper's mainsail. All fixed now, they will be back on the pace and chasing hard.
Finally, the fleet have all reported seeing Albatross over the past few days. With 22 species of these enormous birds in the Southern Oceans, we could have some budding ornithologists by the time they reach Cape Town.
Clipper 2002 - Race 12 Positions
||Distance to Finish
||24 Hour Run
||880 (nautical miles)
||198 (nautical miles)