VAIO's move inshore has cost them the lead overnight - Barclays Adventurer and Samsung benefiting from a later move back to the rhumb line and awarded with 1st and 2nd place respectively this morning.
The shake up is a direct result of the incredibly fast change of wind direction from downwind sailing to an upwind beat, causing a bouncy ride during a night of sail changes to cope with unpredictable conditions.
SAIC La Jolla reported that it was "not the intensity of the wind or rain that struck us, but the quickness with which it arrived."
Richard PARSON, our correspondent from Team Stelmar came on watch to find a completely different world from the one he had left behind at the end of his previous watch:
"It was like stepping up into the right planet but at the wrong grid, so far removed was one from the other."
Barclays Adventurer has reported sail changes carried out with an "undistinguished inefficiency to the irritation of all"
and even being forced to "sail in the wrong direction"
after the abrupt change in the wind direction. Amazingly they were also "briefly heading directly for Samsung: a tactic that must have confused them considerably."
Nevertheless they have a 9nm lead over 2nd place and 24nm on former leader VAIO. Gusts of up to 42 knots have been reported and a steady breeze of 30 knots has reinstated life at an upwind angle.
By staying east of the line for longer, Barclays Adventurer and Samsung anticipated the wind shift from their stern, moving back in as it turned before heading southwest along the rhumb line. With a fresh breeze at present they are maintaining reasonable boat speed despite sailing into the wind, and the current forecast for the next 24-hours looks set to consolidate their position.
Most of the fleet will see the wind shift from the nose (from the front) round to a beam reach (from the side) and eventually back round to the stern and a return to downwind sailing conditions.
These changes will be caused by the secondary high-pressure system moving east away from the coast. In the southern hemisphere the winds revolve in the opposite direction, just as the water goes down the plug in the other direction. As it shifts to the east, the fleet will sail south towards the River Plate and the winds spinning anti-clockwise around the high-pressure system will come round behind them so the spinnakers will be flying again. Clive Cosby, skipper of Team Stelmar, mentioned that the leaders will probably benefit from the easterly wind first as it moves round so we may see them pull slightly further ahead of the mid-fleet pack.
Pindar is currently in the convergence zone between the secondary high-pressure system and the southeast trades generated by the South Atlantic high. Caught in light and erratic winds, their boat speed has suffered so they will be looking forward to crossing into more reliable winds.
Team Save the Children has no such problem with speed; they are flying along at 9 knots - the fastest of the fleet by a long way. They are still riding the southeast trades and have made up some serious ground as a result. Since yesterday morning they have gained 81nm, which will no doubt provide a huge psychological boost for the team. They will probably enjoy these fast sailing conditions for another 100nm, and could benefit further by avoiding the conditions currently hindering Pindar's progress. By the time they move out of the south east trades, the secondary high pressure system may have already shifted sufficiently eastwards, giving them a relatively unobstructed path south.
Aside from the huge wind shifts and leader board shake up, Wim BERKHOF aboard Me to You has reported a couple of incredible sights that not many people have experienced in succession from such an unusual platform:
"What a nice day in the office! At first last night we saw the complete sequence of the lunar eclipse. The 'You' watch saw the first half, the 'Me' watch the second. The full moon started to fade as the earth shielded it from the sun. At the time of the eclipse many bright stars with a shooting star every now and then. A good night for a lot of wishes to come true."