After nine days at sea Spirit of Southampton is leading the Round Britain Challenge fleet down the east coast

The Round Britain Challenge fleet is currently swapping positions and playing the wind game as they head down the east coast.

In an exhausting game of cat and mouse the leaders in the are by no means confirmed as the fleet charge through the precarious assault course of sand banks and oil rigs of the North Sea.

Yesterday morning The Daily Telegraph stormed into second place, behind the front-runner, Spirit of Southampton as the fleet split. However, they soon dropped back down to fourth as the yachts bunched up.

Spirit of Southampton has taken a more of an easterly route, chased hot on the heels by The Daily Telegraph whereas the rest of the fleet look like they’re heading further out.

Logica CMG is back up to second place, 25 miles behind the leader with their familiar shadow, BG Group, now lying in third position just three miles behind them.

Basilica is leading the middle runners in fifth place with Spirit of Hong Kong currently enjoying a favourable five-mile lead over their neck and neck rivals from this morning, Vail Williams. Team Spirit is back in last place although they have made up considerable miles in the last 24 hours and, has been demonstrated consistently in this event, the race is by no means over for any of the yachts.

The fleet has now started to thaw out after their experiences of Muckle Flugga, which saw them battle biting winds and freezing conditions. Mark Taylor, skipper of Team Spirit, describes how: “despite the discomfort the crew were awe inspired by the power and beauty of the seas.”

The leading yacht, Spirit of Southampton’s skipper, James Allen expressed their relief at having now passed this ‘leg’ of the race: “As we started to head south we found ourselves beating into a force 8 gale, it would seem after all the great weather we have had Scotland was not going to let us go without a small reminder of who is Boss.”

However, the pressure is still very much on for the team who recognise they can not rest on their laurels in this final burst home, as James continues: “It is great to have this lead but it also changes the game a little as we no longer have the other boats to measure our performance on, we have to keep driving the boat and waiting anxiously for the position reports. Only two or three days to go now I just hope we can keep it up.”

Latest positions

(pink) Spirit of Southampton (1) DTF (distance to finish) 503

(yellow) LogicaCMG (2) DTF 528

(orange) BG Group (3) DTF 531

(green) The Daily Telegraph (4) DTF 537

(grey) Basilica (5) DTF 553

(black) Spirit Of Hong Kong (6) DTF 564

(blue) Vail Williams (7) DTF 569

(red) Team Spirit (8) DTF 593