The fourth leg of the Clipper 2002 race started on Saturday from Panama

The fourth leg of the Clipper 2002 race started on Saturday from Panama. This 895-mile leg take the fleet from Panama City to the centre of the Galapagos Islands, just to the south of the Equator.

In previous races on this leg crews have found the conditions at the start to be very difficult with light and fluky winds for the first 100 miles in the Bay of Panama. However, the start is two weeks later this time and the northerly winds so far appear to be holding.

During the early stages in the Bay the fleet will come across several small outlying islands, which can be passed either side, affording opportunities to edge ahead of the competition. Some 91 miles down the track they will reach the one main landmark on the leg, Point Mala. After rounding this they will alter course slightly to starboard to aim at the Galapagos Islands.

The race will become a complete medley of weather systems and ocean currents. These elements in turn bring a whole selection of sea and bird life and all crew members will draw from the richness of their experiences of the next few weeks.

Jersey and Bristol are proving to be the early leaders on this leg, but with only six miles separating Jersey from last place New York it is still very much anyone’s race. The yachts are all in sight of each other and racing hard for the Equator.

Sam Fuller aboard New York reported that she and her crew had a busy and windy night with 30 knots of wind blowing from the NNW on the first night. They performed two peels during the night and managed to rip the lightweight kite (spinnaker) during the process.

Hopefully the fleet will make good progress to the south west but sooner or later it will all go wrong and their optimistic predictions will get smashed as they drift aimlessly around trying to find the slightest breath of air to move them south. It is not without good reason that they have been allocated 8 days to do 900 miles. If they do manage to get ahead they could have extra time in the equatorial Galapagos Islands, but we will enjoy watching their progress.

The finishing line will be just off Academy Bay in the south of Isla de Santa Cruz, which is in the centre of the group. Before they get there they are required to pass through a marshalling gate some 75 miles to the NE of the Islands and actually based on the Equator.

The estimated date of arrival in Galapagos is 5 January 2003.


04:00, 29 December 2002

Pos Yacht / Skipper Distance to Finish

1 Jersey (S.Rowell) 790.83 (nautical miles)

2 Bristol (R.Butler) 791.45

3 London (E.Green) 791.91

4 Glasgow (R.Parkhouse) 792.69

5 Hong Kong (J.Taylor) 793.31

6 Liverpool (A.Kyffin) 794.09

7 Cape Town (R.Steven-Jennings) 795.49

8 New York (S.Fuller) 797.51