Subtle tactics are called for as the Clipper fleet approaches their first waypoint in close formation

The fight continues as the Clipper fleet race south to the Macclesfield Bank – their first waypoint. Alex Thomson and his crew on Ariel have managed to eke out a one mile lead over Keith Harris and Antiope’s crew.

“Antiope has been stuck to us like glue” lamented Alex. “We got headed during the night and Keith decided to change to a headsail and sail higher. Half an hour later we got a wonderful lift which allowed us to grab the mile.”

“It seems to be a case of the rich getting richer. A big squall this morning gave us a huge header and large increase in the breeze. The whole fleet dropped their kites, but we got lifted three hours ago and threw up the asymmetric spinnaker. As did Antiope…”

Taeping is still in third place and Mermerus has shifted up to fourth. The fleet is still very close together. With such a prescribed route, the tactics in this leg are very subtle. It is about reading the windshifts before they happen. Taking the gamble about how long to keep a sail up. And as on the last stretch driving the yacht as fast as possible all the time.

The wind is currently North Easterly Force 4 to 5. The fleet is making around 7 knots, which in this area is very fast. During the same leg on Clipper 96, we were usually just happy to be moving at all. It will be interesting to see what happens after they turn the corner at Macclesfield Bank and start heading in a more South Westerly direction.