Race 14 of the 16-stage competition starts from Salvador, Brazil, at 12:00 (local) on Tuesday, 29 July, taking the eight yachts on a 4,200 nautical mile pursuit to America's city of New York.
New York Clipper's win into Salvador has been widely celebrated amongst the fleet during a weeklong Brazilian stopover and the team is especially keen to repeat this success into their home port of New York. But it is Bristol Clipper, skippered by Richard BUTLER, that currently holds the overall lead as the crews prepare for the final leg of their 35,000 mile contest.
The international yachts, namely Bristol, Cape Town, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Jersey, Liverpool, London and New York, finished the 19-day race from Cape Town to Salvador within 24 hours of each other. With all eight yachts having now scored podium places on Clipper 2002, this is a truly great testimony to the quality and closeness of the racing.
With this in mind, the skippers and crews turn their thoughts to the complex wind patterns for the run up to New York and the distant finish at Ambrose Light Tower. Race 14 holds much in store for them, as it is not only one of the longest of the competition but is also the race that passes through the greatest number of weather patterns.
The teams will line up for the race start close to the Nautical Centre of Bahia, CENAB, where they have been hosted so well during the Salvador stopover. This should give about a three-mile southerly beat down to the harbour entrance and the distinctive St Antonio Lighthouse. They will then follow the coast round, first to the east and then to the NE, before blazing their away up the Brazilian coast for 400 miles until they pass Recife, where the yachts will follow the coast round to the north.
Reaching up the coast of Brazil, the warm wind becomes steadily hotter as the fleet nears the Equator. Here, the winds die away and the entire region, known as the Doldrums, is renowned for its light and fickle winds.
Crossing the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone is sure to be a testing experience for skippers and crews alike. The first indication that they are clear is the cool northeasterly trade wind which powers them northward, along with the Gulf Stream, towards the eagerly anticipated stopover in New York.
On arrival, the Clipper yachts will berth at New York's Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid is one of the most successful ships in US history and now, together with the destroyer USS Edson and the submarine USS Growler, it is one of the most unique attractions in New York City. Berthed on the mighty Hudson River in Manhattan, the Museum will host the fleet from 22 - 31 August.
Clipper 2002 is about fierce competition on the water, illustrated by the city rivalry which now sees the two frontrunners, Bristol and Jersey, separated by just 3 points. Once in port though, the crew put aside their rivalry and enjoy coming together to celebrate and prepare for their next challenge. Just as the route is planned to give a wide variety of challenging sailing conditions, so too are the stopover ports selected with cultural diversity but common hospitality. The race ahead shows this with great clarity, taking the fleet from a developing third-world country to one of the world's leading commercial, financial and cultural centres.
Following a nine-day stopover in New York, the Clipper crews will set sail on the final transatlantic dash to the Channel Island of Jersey on 31 August 2003. The fleet will then sprint to the grand race finish via Holyhead and the homecoming celebrations in the city of Liverpool, recently announced the European Capital of Culture for 2008, will take place on Saturday, 27 September 2003.