Clipper into the Trades

Sam Fuller on New York leads

Friday November 22nd 2002, Author: Loretta Spridgeon, Location: Transoceanic
Conditions in the Trade Winds seem much more unsettled than expected for this area. The Clipper fleet are making good progress but they are experiencing lots of squalls, often followed by the inevitable cry of 'all hands on deck' as the unexpected blast of wind threatens to bring disaster to the straining spinnakers.

Normally one would not expect the weather to be this unstable until further to the east; maybe the crews are having to learn earlier than their predecessors as they track the ominous echoes chasing them on their radar screens.

All the 24 hour runs look much the same in distance sailed with Jersey Clipper, well to the south, starting to show well - although she has a long way to go to catch the leaders. Interestingly Bristol, Glasgow and Liverpool have all made a further move to the south, which has the effect of showing a loss on the 'Distance to Finish' table. Followers must have faith in their actions and understand this is a move anticipating the weather a week ahead of them.

Today is the fleet's 12th day out from Cascais, Portugal, and Sam Fuller in New York Clipper has lead virtually all the way. This is an achievement that all the other skippers would have enjoyed, but Sam will not be having a relaxing time. Leading a race counts for nothing, unless you lead over the finishing line and with 2,500 miles to run, in some fairly unpredictable# conditions, this race has many surprises left.

Sam already knows the danger as, when she was heading the fleet towards the finish of Race 1 to Cascais, she had boats chasing either side and lost out by not being able to cover both of them. This time she only has to worry about boats to the south, but these are expected to make gains soon and then it will come down to arithmetic!

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