This morning sees a few changes on the snakes and ladders board of the Race 12 leader table. Bristol Clipper remain both at the top of the table and in the South, whilst Liverpool Clipper move up to second swapping their third place with Cape Town.
In fourth we have a surprise visitor - New York Clipper with the day's best run. With Rory GILLARD taking London Clipper up a place too, Glasgow has reluctantly had to slip into 6th position. Still at the back, but achieving much higher daily runs than the majority of the fleet, Jersey and Hong Kong are making their dive South.
The two back markers have finally been able to make some Southing, as the wind died slightly last night and veered West South West. They made up some valuable ground on the fleet and are certainly back in the game plan; Hong Kong just managing to creep inside 100 miles to the leader.
Jersey skipper Simon ROWELL reported that they had settled into the routine of "tacking in between the 100m and 1500m contours parallel to Madagascar, and are getting a good 2kt current, so quite pleased at holding the straight line boys down south. Would really like to clear Madagascar today, am frantically touching wood."
Will that be enough for Simon however? The aim for most of the fleet today is to get around the Southern most tip of Madagascar and start their journey towards the Cape of Good Hope. Being one of the biggest Islands in the world, Madagascar is already proving some interest to the fleet, many of who can see the mountains already, even though they are still a good 30 - 40 miles away from the coastline. This should serve as an early warning system however, as conditions to the south of Madagascar can be highly localized.
Boats trying to cut the corner often lose out due to a decrease in wind and current. The west going South Equatorial Current should be helping to the tune of 1 to 1 ½ knots, but eddies and counter currents can form nearer the coast.
Could it be that the boys in the North get stuck in too close to the land; will those mountains that they can see become a frustrating landmark in view for longer than planned? It is not just Jersey and Hong Kong who may suffer this fate. To get around the corner Glasgow, Cape Town and Liverpool are all going to have to work hard.
Mid fleet Glasgow, Cape Town, and Liverpool will be frustrated by their lowest scores on the doors today. This is not a signal that the wind died off totally for them, in fact Roger Steven-Jennings reported that last night Cape Town Clipper continued to bounce around in force 6 winds gusting force 7. Time for the crews to dig deep and battle through the weather, as they near the continental shelf the sea state should settle slightly.
Lastly, but by no means least in this report, we have Bristol, London and New York to think about. Looking at the position chart they could well be the ones to watch; far South enough to escape the localised difficulties that the tip of Madagascar may present and now on a 'west is best' strategy charging towards Cape Town.
Skipper Ross and his crew aboard New York Clipper should be pleased as punch with the highest daily run of the fleet of 141 miles; they now have a great position for the prevailing conditions but need to keep a watchful eye on the Cockneys and the Sherry Drinkers to the South of them.
Bristol's Richard Butler reported that the weather did finally calm down a little last night for those in the South and that they have hoisted their Yankee 1 headsail once more. One advantage of this will be a small amount of respite for the crew; a chance for some decent sleep, food and a chance to dry out a little.
Clipper 2002 - Race 12 Positions
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)