These winds have been part of a quite vigorous cold front which is sweeping along the coast, also bringing heavy rain and moderate visibility. This does not seem to be damping the enthusiasm of the crews at all - New York's skipper Joff Bailey was having a whale of a time yesterday, with speeds of over 20 knots under a poled out headsail. Danny Watson and the crew of Qingdao pulled out 133 miles in the 12 hours up to the 1600 schedule yesterday afternoon, just pipping New York's 132.
This cold front is travelling faster than the yachts, however. Western Australia and New York should keep the southerly winds longer than the rest of them, but whether this will be enough to see them home to Durban remains to be seen. The chart shows the forecast wind for 0400 GMT on November 15th, tomorrow, together with a rough guesstimate of fleet positions. This shows a continuation of the "rich get richer" theme, with the leading 5 yachts just keeping in the forecast south westerlies, but the others perhaps being left in the light and fluffy patch between the departing low and the arriving Atlantic high. Local TV weather forecasters were waxing lyrical about the incoming sunny weather last night- great for suntans, not so good for sailing to Durban.
For the moment, however, progress has improved dramatically throughout the fleet. Cardiff Clipper have been the biggest gainers, now up to 4th place and hot on the heels of Danny Watson and his crew on Qingdao. Singapore Clipper have slipped down over the last 36 hours, from 3rd to 5th - as Richard Falk and his crew have sailed their yacht well so far, this could be a sign of sail damage. Depending on how tense the racing is, the yachts often do not tell of sail damage until they have repaired it on board, so as not to let their immediate competitors know of a temporary disadvantage. Western Australia and New York are still a significant distance out front; it is too soon to be making predictions, however, and both Dave Pryce and Joff Bailey will be stamping down hard on any optimistic mutterings amongst their crews. Not that sailors are in any way superstitious, you understand…
Jersey Clipper following their rig failure and subsequent diversion into Cape Town are going for a test sail today with the rigging manufacturers aboard, after yesterday was spent checking the fittings and setting the rig again.