The long Pacific leg of the Clipper '98 round the world race started at 0400 GMT Monday 1 February, just after the finish of Superbowl 33

At 0400 GMT on Monday 1 February, the Clipper fleet crossed the start line of the Pacific Leg of Clipper ’98 in 22 knots of wind. The start, from Waikiki, had deliberately been put back to 1800 local time to allow the crews to watch Superbowl 33.

As the game finished with the Denver Broncos winning convincingly, the call went out for the Clipper crews to board their yachts and get underway. After sailing up-harbour to give three cheers to the Hawaii Yacht Club for their hospitality, the yachts made for the start line into an east-noreasterly wind.

First to the windward mark was Tim Hedges aboard Chrysolite, followed by Alex Thompson and Ariel. As the yachts set off to the southwest, spinnakers began to appear as the cews settled down to their first night at sea on their way to Yokohama.

The trick to the long Pacific leg ahead is to keep in the strong winds beneath the high pressure system to the west of the Hawaiian Islands. The sailing ship route advises yachts to go south, to perhaps latitude 10-15 degrees, where the easterly winds will be the strongest. The tactical decision is when to head north from this southern latitude towards Japan – too early and the boats risk heading into the calms, but too late is wasted time. Daily positions will show who is making the right decisions – these can be seen on the official Clipper ’98 website at