New York extends

With 500 miles left to go before reaching Cuba

Wednesday December 4th 2002, Author: Loretta Spridgeon, Location: Transoceanic
So far the forecast light winds have failed to materialise and the fleet continue to make good progress towards the finish line off Havana.

Sam Fuller and the crew of New York Clipper continue to go great guns and retain a comfortable lead as they approach the south eastern tip of Cuba. This is obviously a pretty big milestone and with their distance to the finish now only five times the distance to second placed Bristol Clipper, a first across the line looks pretty secure.

The New Yorkers have a handicap though, after some fairly major spinnaker damage late on Monday. In a message back to the race office Sam wrote, "we are very upset at the moment as our mw kite is now in two bits! A surprise gust came upon us and the core of the spinny haly ran out of the jammer causing the sail to fall in the water."

After a lot of pulling the crew managed to drag the sail out of the water, but not before the weight of the water had ripped it in two. As the medium weight spinnaker is one of the main sails in the boat's arsenal it will be sorely missed and the crew will be trying to stitch it back together again as quickly as possible. Despite being a major blow, this has yet to really affect their progress as the wind has enabled them to use some of their other sails instead. It will however add immensely to the pressure on board.

The feelings on board Bristol can be clearly summed up by Richard Butler's comments in this morning's report: "Wind 22kts true from ESE. Good downwind sailing. Bristol Clipper has taken another 6 miles from New York. 12 from Hong Kong, 9 from Jersey. Cool!"

We now see Bristol, London and Jersey all in a line as they sail along the coast of the Dominican Republic, whilst Hong Kong has chosen to dive back up north in an attempt to optimise their wind angle.

The real competition though remains at the back of the fleet where Cape Town Clipper are now less than three miles behind Glasgow and 11 behind Liverpool. The mood on board certainly reflects this as the crew, at one stage resigned to bringing up the rear, now eagerly await each position report to see if their hard work has paid off. With the last few all showing gains on the boats in front, it certainly looks as though it has.

LATEST POSITIONS
04:00 4 December 2002

Pos Yacht Distance to Finish
1 New York 515 (nautical miles)
2 Bristol 619
3 London 646
4 Hong Kong 669
5 Jersey 690
6 Liverpool 739
7 Glasgow 747
8 Cape Town 750

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