The radio schedules both last night and this morning ruffled the feathers of the Clipper 2002 leaderboard once more. Bristol Clipper, out in front with only 460 miles to go, have however swapped a Jersey Clipper on their tail for a Liverpool Clipper.
This match race is close, with Liverpool also up in the Northern flank of the fleet and the yachts in sight of one another. The Bristolians are sailing hard, with Liverpool only a mile behind.
What has happened to Jersey some might ask. Now in third place and some 25 miles behind Bristol, the North/South divide is now taking its effect.
In the North Bristol reported that instead of being headed as expected, the wind actually backed a little yesterday afternoon and decreased slightly, allowing them to hoist their spinnaker once more. Conditions then changed as the wind increased to around 20 knots and since then they have been reaching under headsail and making good speeds as they make their way further South.
In the South the boats are of course dealing with this East North Easterly wind. Duty skipper Simon ROWELL aboard Jersey Clipper reported that they have been beating into 20 knot winds in a moderate sea. Having followed this race for the past year, we all know that reaching produces more boat speed than beating into wind, which is illustrated by the difference in the mileage covered by the boats in the South.
The result for Race 15 to Jersey is far from decided however and there are certainly a few tricks up sleeves that might see the leaderboard change again. Not to mention the weather, for instance! At present the Clipper fleet is sitting in between a cold and a warm front, which will make the winds changeable. The winds are then forecast to veer further and Southerlies should develop as the Low pressure establishes itself.
This should make every Hong Kong Clipper supporter sleep a little easier. There is a theory being put to test in the Southerly pack. "We are going to try something different,"
said skipper Justin TAYLOR yesterday and so we watched and waited. Their sudden flyer to the South is brave, but as we know, Justin and his team are not keen on following in the wake of others.
IF (and remember it is just a forecast) the winds do turn more Southerly, both Hong Kong and Jersey could be the boats to reap the most benefit. Or as skipper Simon so joyfully put it this morning: "For everyone back home who's about to drown themselves in gin and tonic, fear not."
The boys in the North know this too, as Richard BUTLER added: "The sched was great, but we'll have to see how things work out with this low."
Many crews seems to be getting a little nervous as the UK gets bigger on the right hand side of the electronic ARCS charts on their computer screens and this incredibly close race moves into its final stages. Still covering fairly good daily runs, the rest of the fleet have held on to their respective positions on the leader board apart from Glasgow who have been elevated to 6th Place as Hong Kong take their dive South.
Glasgow or should we say Magnet Clipper have, over the past two days managed to bump into two of perhaps the largest floating objects around the North Atlantic. No serious damage was caused, after they met with a rather large piece of tree trunk yesterday but they are slightly worried for the health of the whale that made friends with their keel yesterday!
Clipper 2002 - Race 15 Positions
||Dist To Finish (Nautical Miles)