The conveyor belt is on! Bristol and Jersey have put on their afterburners and have both done over 150 miles in the last 12 hours.
With a strong NE blowing and a 4-knot current they will be enjoying themselves somewhat more than the rest of the Clipper 2002 fleet.
London Clipper's curve round to the North has worked and they have played a blinder on New York as they collected their 'free miles' before the Yankee doodles. Roger STEVEN-JENNINGS and his crew aboard Cape Town Clipper are also benefiting by their more direct course to the current and have moved up to fifth place.
Liverpool, Glasgow and Hong Kong all took the direct route and have lost out as a result. Hong Kong Clipper, always one to try the extremes, was going north but appears to have had a change of strategy and abandoned that theory. This is a pity and they may be regretting this as they have now lost the opportunity to 'do a London' on the boats in front.
As each boat hits the current, the gaps immediately open up which accounts for a remarkable set of figures on the leaderboard table. Hong Kong's 24 hour run of 133 represents much lost drinking time in Cape Town when compared with Jersey's 258 miles.
The boats were expected to spread out on this race as not only does the current have the effect of stringing them out, but there are lots of major tactical decisions to make in the varied and sometimes unpredictable conditions. The interesting thing is that both Jersey's Simon ROWELL and Bristol's Richard BUTLER will admit to where they got it wrong - yet their success is down to making more good calls than the others.
As they fight out the last 450 miles in almost a match racing scenario, Simon will still have nightmares of his northern attack on Madagascar which put them in a seemingly hopeless seventh place. Richard BUTLER, who now accepts that everyone affectionately calls him Binks, will not be happy in his middling course after Madagascar which allowed the Jersey crew to stage their miraculous 112 mile recovery.
The others in the fleet meanwhile will have to reflect that whatever improvement these two leaders could have made to their game plan that they are being shown the way home this time.
Cape Town is preparing to welcome the yachts, with friends and families already starting to arrive. The weather window at present looks reasonable for the next few days, but the weather fronts come though very fast and we are going to see many more excitements on the run in to this quite amazing race.
Race 12 Positions at 03:00, 19 June 2003
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)