On Thursday morning, BP Explorer was trailing Spirit of Sark by 16nm. 24-hours later they have not only caught the leaders, but also pulled away from Duggie Gillespie and his crew by 7nm and shot into 1st place!
Spirit of Sark's fall from the head of the fleet to 2nd place is most probably a result of their easterly position. The teams that approached the low-pressure system from further west have enjoyed some considerable gains on the former leader.
Team Stelmar, for example, are now only 12nm behind Spirit of Sark, a massive improvement of 20nm from yesterday morning.
However, none of the teams in the leading pack appear to be in the most advantageous position. Having obviously decided that they would not make it out to the western edge of the system, BP Explorer, Spirit of Sark, Team Stelmar, Barclays Adventurer, BG SPIRIT and VAIO are currently heading down the eastern edge. With potentially variable conditions ahead, they will be hoping that following a course nearer to the line will reap rewards.
However, teams further out west, in particular Samsung and SAIC La Jolla, currently in 5th and 8th place respectively, may be set to make up as much as 30nm on the leaders in the next 24 hours. There is even the possibility that some of the yachts in the easterly group could be almost stationary for a time if they get caught in the middle of the low-pressure system, which could have a huge effect on the leader board.
The assertion made at Finisterre that 'west is best' seems to be ringing true, but time will tell if the fleet's split down either side of the low-pressure system will dramatically reduce the distance between first and last place.
There also appears to be another low building to the south west of the fleet, which could compound the problems facing the yachts to the east and prove beneficial to the westerly group, if it comes to fruition.
This is just speculation of course, as we look forward to the next poll this afternoon to see if BP Explorer can hang on to their hard earned lead.