Clipper Round the World Race sees a change in lead overnight 02/10/07

The leader board has almost turned on its head overnight with Nova Scotia moving into the lead and proving unequivocally that ‘West is Best’. Also out to the west of the Canary Islands, Durban 2010 and Beyond is lying just 8 miles behind the Canadians.

Nova Scotia reported that constantly changing conditions on Sunday prompted numerous sail changes: “It’s been a weird sort of day. Bright sunshine and 20 to 25 knot winds, quickly followed with squally showers and 35 knot winds sending people dashing for oilies twice a watch!”

Race Director Joff Bailey said: “I hate to say that I told you so, but I did. Over the last 24 hours the leader board has been almost turned upside down with Nova Scotia and Durban 2010 and Beyond crossing each other’s path in the night and having a real ding dong battle to the west of the island chain. Now that their tactics have paid off in the Canary Islands they will be looking forward to testing their tactical skills again when in a few days time they will come close to the next hurdle, the Cape Verde Islands.”

Meanwhile, and the chasing pack that had been at the head of the fleet for the first week of racing have parked up as they negotiate the Canaries. After losing wind overnight, the teams in the log jam to the north of Gran Canaria are struggling to keep moving in light airs and logged as few as 15-20 nautical miles in a 12-hour period overnight. The winds across the whole area where the fleet is located is forecast to remain light for the rest of today with the boats that are further west set to benefit the most at it starts to build again. Joff Bailey explained: “Anybody can sail when there is wind but it is times like this, in light winds, that races are won and lost as the crews squeeze out every last drop of power from the light winds. If your boat can sail one or two miles more than the opposition and get into the new wind first suddenly you can open up a 20 or 30 mile advantage.” That is what all the teams will want to do first, so focus, light airs helming and trim will be the name of the game.

For the boats without wind, the battle is on to maintain some boat speed. Hannah Jenner, Skipper of Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper, currently lying in fifth place, commented: “Carlsberg don’t make ocean car parks…but if they did, this would probably be the best one in the world!” Hull & Humber reports temperatures of 30 degrees and boat speed of 0.4 knots this morning as they try to steer a course between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria.

Qingdao, who logged the second lowest run of 16 nautical miles in the last 12-hour period, is the most easterly boat in the fleet. Joff Bailey said: “The drifting conditions will be hurting Qingdao most as they are the furthest east and because they are so close to the land they can actually see the bars and restaurants on shore. They even had a fishing boat go past them last night waving cold beer, such cruelty!”

Jamaica is taking full advantage of the lead pack’s misfortune and Skipper Simon Bradley and his crew are positioning themselves to the west of the islands. Simon has relayed special birthday wishes for his dad Ted, who celebrates his 80th birthday today. “I’d like to give him a call but the sat phone is down, so please wish him a very happy 80th birthday from me and all the Jamaica crew,” Simon wrote in an email to the Race Office. Jamaica has been the birthday boat on this race from La Rochelle with various birthdays including crew member David Pugh who turned 72 last week.

“Jamaica have halved their deficit to the leader in the last 24 hours and it would not surprise me if they move out of 10th place this afternoon as they enjoy better winds,” said Joff Bailey. “This will be a double celebration for the Jamaica Skipper’s dad, Ted Bradley, as he celebrates his 80th birthday today. The whole crew of Jamaica and everyone on the Race Team send him their best wishes.”

Meanwhile, more whales have been spotted by the teams as they slow up. logged just 15 miles in the last 12 hours but despite slow progress, crew member Judy Lawrence reports that the marine life is keeping them entertained: “We had a couple of uninvited but welcome guests today – two huge whales – who took a look at us, decided they didn’t like curried eggs and with a flick of their tails waved us g’day. Magnificent!”