BT fleet move into the TradesRace leader Logica still keeps easing away from her nearest rivals. The only boat to make any inroads on their lead is Olympic Group in 12th place, who has managed to gain three miles in the last 24 hours reducing the deficit to 177 miles. Although Compaq dropped back a few miles from Logica they gained slightly on the chasing pack, who have become an even tighter group with just ten miles dividing them in distance to go to the finish. On the water they are spread out in a line from east to west covering about 35 miles with little difference in latitude.
At present there is high pressure over the Atlantic to the west, low pressure over the Sahara to the east, and the fleet is in the strong pressure gradient between the two.
Yesterday it appeared that some of the yachts were making a break to the west but this never materialised as they tacked back again towards the coast; this has brought the whole fleet together again in a narrow corridor beating up the coast.
The yachts from eighth to 12th places are a little more spread out with 70 miles dividing them. Even so, Spirit of Hong Kong overtook Veritascoming from one mile behind yesterday to seven miles in front today.
The wind direction has made the port tack (heading east-northeast) the more favourable one in shortening the distance to go. At some stage, however, it is expected that the yachts will all head to the northwest in an attempt to pick up a more favourable wind direction later. It seems that no yacht wants to be the first to break away from the pack and take that gamble, so they will probably continue beating up the coast for a while before they all move offshore together.
As at 0800 GMT (distance to leader in miles in brackets)
2. Compaq NonStop (12)
3. LG FLATRON (45)
4. Norwich Union (45)
5. Isle of Man (52)
6. BP Explorer (54)
7. TeamSpirIT (55)
8. Save the Children (107)
9. Quadstone (119)
10. Spirit of Hong Kong (144)
11. VERITAS (151)
12. Olympic Group (177)