New York New York
This may be the case but there is obviously nothing wrong with Bristol's boat speed as they have managed to close the gap between themselves and New York Clipper by over 10 miles in the last 12 hours, in a steady 20 to 25 knots from the east south east. In fact the Bristol crew's only complaint is that it is too hot, a gripe sure to receive little sympathy from those avidly watching their progress back in their homeport.
The whole fleet has made good progress over the last few hours, with all but New York and Glasgow making over 200 miles towards the Cuban finish line. As the wind is predicted to ease from the west, we could well see a further concertina effect as the boats in the lead slow up allowing those further behind to catch up. This will be a hope for many, but none more so than Cape Town Clipper who have sailed valiantly to catch up after their initial slow start from Cascais.
With identical boats and equally matched crews, there is little to be gained in terms of out and out boat speed unless a tactical decision pays off - or the racing teams experience different weather conditions. Sometimes, as happened at the beginning of this race, the lead boats sail into favourable conditions and those at the back can only watch as the front runners sail to what seems an insurmountable lead. Definitely a case of the rich getting richer! Occasionally though the wind gods slow down those at the front, allowing the chasing pack to catch up, which could prove immensely beneficial for Roger Steven-Jennings and the Cape Town crew.
Hong Kong's continued dive to the southwest is an interesting development. Whereas yesterday they guarded the northern flank with New York and seemed to be potentially in a strong position to take on London and Bristol, today they are well down in the southern group just 17 miles in front of Jersey Clipper. What does Hong Kong skipper Justin Taylor know that we don't?
One possibility is that the skipper has made a conscious decision to cover the boats behind, rather than risk his fourth place by tackling those further ahead. If this is the case then Justin has made a sound move as he now sits directly in front of Ed Green and the Jersey boat. The Jersey crew have been trying earnestly to move up the ranks, but as consolation have at least been witness to some amazing wildlife including a Minke whale who broached right out of the water less than a quarter of a mile from them.
And finally ... Spinnaker prize of the day is awarded to Liverpool Clipper who managed not only to lose the sheet from the corner of the spinnaker, causing it to fly straight out from the boat like a flag, but then to watch helplessly as it proceeded to lovingly wrap itself around the forestay. The crew must have succeeded in sorting it fairly quickly though, as they have still produced a very respectable mileage. With Rupert Parkhouse and the Glasgow Clipper crew waiting to capitalise on this sort of hitch, a repeat
performance will not be welcome!
04:00, 3 December 2002
Pos Yacht Distance to Finish
1 New York 705.8 (nautical miles)
2 Bristol 821.5
3 London 834.2
4 Hong Kong 854.2
5 Jersey 870.7
6 Liverpool 912
7 Glasgow 924.7
8 Cape Town 935.8