Winds Are Like Busses...
After several days of frustratingly light conditions, the forecast winds finally kicked in with a vengeance yesterday.
Having studied the various weather sites on the web, and after sending notice of a deep low to the south to a rather sceptical fleet, it was with some satisfaction that the UK-based Race Office team read Bristol Clipper's message describing 40 knot headwinds from the west south west.
Bristol's southerly position ensured that they were the first to be affected, but before long the whole fleet were charging around in winds of over 30 knots and this led to some interesting position changes.
Liverpool Clipper cracked off the wind and reached fast to the south east in a seemingly suicidal move that lost them 4 places in one fell swoop. Yet there was method in the madness and by this morning they had blasted into first position, again taking advantage of a freer sailing angle to get a major speed boost.
Cape Town and Glasgow also decided to sacrifice distance to the south by tacking off to the north of west, a decision that has certainly paid off for Cape Town who are now in second place a mere 2 miles behind Liverpool.
The wind has even filled in for Jersey and Hong Kong who were beginning to feel somewhat left out as they drifted gently off the coast of Madagascar. They may have missed the first bus, but can probably now relate to the saying about busses all coming at once. Jersey skipper Simon Rowell reports that it "seems to have been a bouncy night for all, weather is a fairly steady 25-32 kts from the SSW, waves about 2-3m occasionally breaking."
They remain at the tail end of the fleet, but feel they are now making progress.
Tactically this race now has real interest. Bristol, London and New York have all decided to keep south on a starboard tack and have suffered because of it, but they too are working to a plan. The theory goes that as the low pressure, which is causing this strong wind, drifts to the east, the winds will back round to the south. The further south they are the better the angle when they do tack to the west.
By extension this will cause problems for those in the north who will eventually want to tack to the south. The risk of course is that this may not happen. As Richard Butler comments aboard Bristol, "If the wind just goes light, we are out on a limb compared to the rest of the fleet. Not sure how this will pan out!"
The outcome may be very uncertain indeed, but we can be sure that Race 12 to Cape Town holds a few surprises in store.
Clipper 2002 - Race 12 Positions
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)