With the Clipper fleet heading toward the southwestern corner of Madagascar, a very light south south westerly wind was hardly the best choice on the menu.
Having all taken the decision to head north of Reunion, the eight yachts then faced the option of drifting slowly to the south or heading more to the west. Either way there seemed little in it.
Jersey and Hong Kong remained more to the north, whilst London, Glasgow and New York shadowed first placed Liverpool. Having won into Mauritius, Bristol Clipper now seemed somewhat off the pace with their position on the southern flank failing to get them past Seventh.
Then things began to change. A low pressure system building hundreds of miles to the south began to make its presence felt. The light airs began to build, slowly the boats picked up speed, gently at first but steadily none the less. Bristol remained to the south and as the day progressed they gradually changed from windseeker to yankee 1 before eventually hoisting their spinnaker for a faster reach. Skipper Richard BUTLER complained about the annoying ocean swell that seemed to sap their speed. With no other boats in sight, gauging their progress was impossible.
Richard continued "And so we came to the 15:00 sched (7pm local); with boats in different places and the fluky conditions, it was inevitable that the sched would be interesting, but we had no idea whether we would be 1st or 8th. However, it was our day. We had faired much better than the middle block of boats whilst the northern boats Jersey and Hong Kong had obviously had no wind all day and made very little progress. So in one sched, we went from last to a lead of 17 and with 31 miles on Jersey and 36 on Hong Kong!"
If they were happy with that they will be ecstatic at this morning's results. 17 miles has stretched to 23, and Jersey and Hong Kong, their nearest rivals for overall first place, are now over 80 miles astern and remain becalmed. Jersey skipper Simon Rowell maintains his usual good humour describing the situation as "A comedy classic today. Weather: bugger all, going round the clock, clouds building up to the SE, barometer steady, mental state uncertain."
Hong Kong Clipper have seen a shark and after 26 hours in a wind hole reckon somebody might be trying to tell them something.
For the rest of the fleet things remain close. Glasgow Clipper has edged into second by a mere 0.3 of a mile over Cape Town. New York comes next half a mile further from the finish whilst London and Liverpool are neck and neck with 4 miles more to go. If anyone has the edge here it may actually be New York Clipper. Although in the middle relative to the finish line, their geographical position 8 miles to the south could prove a boost as it did for Bristol.
Back down in the south, the low pressure continues to build and drift north. The light winds and tropical weather the fleet have been experiencing may well give way to something a lot more exciting as a little package of southern ocean weather extends up to meet them.
Clipper 2002 - Race 11 Positions
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)