The weather has remained calm since the start of Race 12 and Simon ROWELL, duty skipper, has reported that with a Southerly breeze of 4-7 knots, the fleet spent last night racing under a small 'cheese slice' of a moon and flat calm waters.
This race is 2311 miles long and is going to provide a great deal of interest as the yachts will be affected by several different weather patterns and currents as they race to the south west to round the Cape of Good Hope. There were a great deal of nerves flying around the pontoon yesterday morning before the race start, so this first 24hrs of relative calm but close racing will have settled crew back into their teams nicely.
The fleet has remained close over the past 24hrs. Rory and his team onboard London Clipper have done well, covering 100 miles since the start they have clawed their way to the front of the pack as they make their way North of Reunion Island. Chasing hard is Liverpool Clipper - keen to stay out front after such a brilliant start yesterday. Even more determined to do it right this time, and in third place close behind Liverpool, is Roger STEVEN-JENNINGS and his crew of Cape Town Clipper - desperate to bring Cape Town home in the top half of the fleet, they will be pushing every mile to South Africa.
Bristol, Jersey, Glasgow and New York and Hong Kong Clipper are all in Hot Pursuit behind. With 9 miles separating the front to the back of the fleet, we all know by now that as the fleet separates out over the day the positions are sure to change.
Interestingly the fleet seem to have all chosen to take the Northern Route round Reunion Island, which lies directly on the Rhumb line to Cape Town. Reunion is much the same size as Mauritius and just over 30 miles north to south but the island is much more mountainous with some peaks rising to over 3000 metres. This can cause a dangerous wind shadow to the north. In the 2000 Race only two were brave enough to try this Northern Route, but they were paid off well by this gamble as they finished early and first into Cape Town after escaping the rest of the fleet so early on.
So, the race is on. The next 24hrs will once more see the fleet split as skippers' tactics and weather routeing take control of the lives of our crews once more. This race could certainly be one of the most exciting to watch yet.
Over the next two weeks we should expect the weather to be extremely changeable as the fleet pass South of Madagascar and near the coast of South Africa (East London area). Nearing this coast, as well as potentially witnessing some amazing electrical storms, the crew will also begin to hear two words very often. 'Agulhas current' - rather like a conveyor belt that runs down the coast, this current can be friend and foe. In favourable winds, it offers 'free miles' as it can give you an extra push of over 4 knots at times, however, if the winds turn, it can become a rather unpleasant area of water to be in. Many of the crew have already spotted that the Admiralty charts denote 'Abnormal waves' in the area... All this to contend with before the fleet even gets within sight of the great Cape of Good Hope. Over the next few days we will explain these factors in more detail as well as report on the race as it develops. Stay tuned; Mauritius to Cape Town; its going to be a good one!