After the briefest of stopovers in Jersey, the Times Clipper fleet is preparing for the final, Clipper Trophy-deciding leg into Portsmouth

The final leg of the Times Clipper Race starts at 1200 BST today off St Aubin’s Bay, neat St Helier, Jersey. The starting honours, organised by the St Helier Yacht Club, will be performed by Lady Cheshire, wife of The Lieutenant Governor, Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire KBE CB.

The next leg will decide the destination of the Times Clipper trophy. As race 15 began, Bristol and Jersey Clippers were just 0.4 points apart. After a seemingly endless leg, dogged by light airs, it was skipper Bob Beggs and the crew of Bristol Clipper that broke through the calms to win.

Paul De La Haye and the crew of Jersey Clipper had to content themselves with fourth place, leaving them second still, but needing to finish at least four places ahead of the West Country charger to claim the Times Clipper Trophy and its £10,000 bounty.

Bristol skipper Bob Beggs can either blaze away for Portsmouth and hope for the best or stick to his rival’s transom and ensure Bristol scoops the silverware. Mathematics dictate that one of these boats will take the overall crown and Beggs (above left) is in no mood for second place.

After a short but extremely enjoyable stop in the largest of the Channel Islands, the fleet will cross the line and head west round Noirmont Point. Once round Corbière, the fleet will head north, sluiced by favourable tide past Guernsey and Alderney.

The eight-boat fleet will then cross the Channel, aiming for the Nab Tower to enter the Solent from the east and sailing past the Napoleonic forts that stand sentinel over the approaches to Portsmouth. The finish line, off Southsea Castle, is the same one the fleet crossed so leisurely eleven months ago to start its global odyssey. They are returning to a less assured world.

The first finishers are expected around 1100 tomorrow (Wednesday 26 September) and will tie up alongside the Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays development at 1200. The finish is being supervised by the local Royal Albert Yacht Club and the Cumberland Guard will fire their historic cannon as each yacht crosses the line off Southsea Castle.

For the crossing, the eight-boat fleet can expect light winds initially before an approaching Atlantic low brings a building southeasterly and this will later veer into the southwest. If the weather isn’t playing ball, the Clipper organisers may consider shortening the course – possibly to one of the Channel markers – but are very keen to avoid letting down the crowds expected at Portsmouth.

the Times Clipper Race 2000
Overall points after 15 races1. Bristol – 91.42. Jersey – 883. London – 804. Plymouth – 715. Liverpool – 706. Portsmouth – 697. Leeds – 398. Glasgow – 33