Speeds have been high in the fleet and though there has been a slight variation in strategies, on the whole the eight yachts have been heading in a similar direction. However the positions today show that this is no longer the case.
Up until now the wind has been predominantly from the south west, enabling the teams to sail pretty much in the direction of their choice. It has now changed to the south east forcing the skippers to make a decision.
Sailing with the wind directly behind is slow and inefficient, so most will have made a choice to either stay on a port tack and head more to the west, or to gybe on to starboard and head more to the north. Although the western option is somewhat more direct, the north holds promise of stronger winds and a longer-term advantage.
Today's fleet figures seem to support this. The boats in the west, Jersey, Hong Kong, Glasgow and Liverpool, are first to fourth respectively, yet the boats in the north, New York, London and Cape Town, have had the highest daily runs.
Bristol Clipper could have gone either way, but chose to head north and have dropped several places because of it - but their speed has increased and they are happy with their decision. Interestingly they also consider New York Clipper to have the best tactical position, a fitting tribute for Independence Day!
Throughout the fleet the routine of the racing watch system is back to normal. The sea is calm and the crew whose turn it is to cook are taking advantage of this to offer up some true culinary delights; real cauliflower cheese on London Clipper, fresh fruit salad on Bristol, whilst on Cape Town they have discovered the history of the South African flag on the back of a packet of Biltong! Its meaning and the symbolism of people coming together to work in harmony must seem particularly apt on board the Clipper yachts.
Clipper 2002 - Race 13 Positions