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6 March 2003, 11:08 am
Down to the Last 500
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Clipper 2002/2003 Round the World Race
Hawaii, USA - Yukohama, HKG

Well, it just goes to show what a difficult job the race crews and skippers have. After writing about the strong northerly position of <I>London Clipper </I>yesterday, the boys in the South have snuck into the pack and certainly made their mark.

Hong Kong Clipper has stretched their lead to 40 miles. A nice safety net to have, but Justin Taylor and his team will certainly not be resting on their laurels just yet. Conditions with the fleet have been very unsettled over the past 24hours with wind strengths varying greatly, the fleet may have one more storm in store before they arrive in Japan. The race positions are likely to be decided on where each boat is when the weather catches up.

The Bristol crew will be sailing with big smiles on their faces this morning, no matter how cold the water is (only 10 degrees centigrade at last check onboard apparently) as they have played the weather and conditions well and have slotted into second place. Liverpool has followed and is in third place this morning. Adam is obviously looking forward to getting to Japan, with reports of the cold conditions coming in this morning. Sail changes are now less than popular with his foredeck team as instead of getting a balmy shower as per the Atlantic they are treated to a feeling similar to icicles shooting down your neck - not pleasant.

The highest daily run comes from Jersey Clipper, now in fourth. The wind conditions have turned lighter over the last 24hours, and have also veered Easterly. This has been particularly good for Simon Rowell and his crew as they will have been able to reach North in these conditions, gaining not only a better position but also sailing faster than their competition. With a run of 207.03nm in the last 24hours I am sure that a few of yesterdays frustrations will have been put aside as the crew get the taste of another pennant.

The skippers and crew of both London and Glasgow will be reeling from this recent turn of events having lost 18miles and 53miles respectively. Cockney Clipper will not have been enjoying these lighter easterlies not only because they are already in the North, but also due to the lack of spinnaker gear after losing their heavy weight earlier in the race.

New York and Cape Town remain at the back of the fleet, but their avid band of followers will have noticed that they too have gained on the front-runners. Their own private battle is hotting up and we should definitely not count them out…

Sarah Beaugeard /ISAF Secretariat
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