This race, the thirteenth of the 16-stage Clipper 2002 Series, has tended to develop into a battle of two halves as the Clipper yachts track their way across the southern Atlantic to Brazil.
The four-strong northern group of New York, Cape Town, Bristol and London have had the edge, but the southerners have now accepted this and most of them are now cutting their losses and coming further north.
Cape Town Clipper is truly the Champion of the north. It is just possible however that the South Africans may have gone too far and could now drop back as a result. Skipper Roger STEVEN-JENNINGS may well be concerned about this, as over the last 12 hours they have eased south to put themselves between the finish and third placed Bristol.
Rupert PARKHOUSE aboard Glasgow Clipper thought they had the edge on the others in the southern group. With lots of threatening black clouds around, he had time to write how they were standing by for ages to drop their kite as a squall came through. As so often it was a false alert and he was reported that they were able to hold on, thankful that the threat had diminished.
After a short gap Rupert then wrote to say that the head of their spinnaker had blown away, one clew had become detached, plus the sail was ripped from top to bottom and now in two very separate parts. Like Jersey, Liverpool and no doubt several other boats in the Clipper fleet, their sewing machine will have been very busy by the time the crew reach Salvador.
Justin TAYLOR in Hong Kong Clipper has decided that he will not fall in with the others in the southern group and it appears he has gybed, now heading directly for Salvador. Race Director Colin de Mowbray commends this spirited tactic agreeing that there is little to be gained from following the other yachts.
Justin, like all the skippers, only has limited weather faxes available to make his decision and he does not have the benefit of surfing the internet for the weather information. The general trend is that the wind in both the north and the south of the fleet will start to drop off over the next 48 hours and the crews may well be looking back at their 200 - 220 miles per day with fondness from now on.
With less than 1,400 miles to go, an arrival on the 18 July is certainly a possibility, although the fleet could experience a relatively slow run to the finish so the smart money is on the winning boat arriving on Saturday, 19 July.
Clipper 2002 - Race 13 Positions
||Distance to Finish (nautical miles)
||1,563 (position estimated)