Bristol has at last rounded The Lizard and is expected to be first across the finish line off Jersey sometime tonight...
Bristol’s skipper, Bob Beggs, said last night that he thought they would round the waypoint three miles south of The Lizard by 2200 last night. It was not until 0627 that Bristol Clipper finally managed to drift past the renowned headland. It had been a frustrating night of light head winds and strong adverse currents, more reminiscent of a club passage race than a 3,200 mile transatlantic marathon.
The chasing pack of seven have had yet another tense night as they have criss-crossed each others’ tracks. The distances to the waypoint at The Lizard tell only half the story as the boats beat eastward and realistically any of the chasing boats is in with a chance of second place. The high places in this race are of great significance to all the crews as there is so much at stake in the overall race order when they start the final sprint to Portsmouth. The crew aboard Jersey Clipper are desperate not to have boats ahead of them so that they remain within striking range of Bristol.
Liverpool Clipper, currently looking strong for second place in this race, could be a candidate for fourth place overall if the cards fall their way. The crew in Leeds Clipper are having the time of their lives as they duel with the rest of the pack on equal terms, Portsmouth Clipper meanwhile, will be looking to compensate for a long wait under a rain cloud yesterday which stopped them dead for several hours.
Glasgow Clipper’s windward position was looking strong and Plymouth’s Matt Baker thought that skipper Ed Green’s name would certainly be on the second prize, but it is possible that their northern approach round the Scilly Isles has not paid off. Matt could not see a way round Glasgow Clipper last night, but may have gained an advantage by parting company and going south of the Scillies. London Clipper is in great form as they try to hold Jersey at bay, but with three or four sails in sight they have everything to fight for. Although in a good third postion overall, one bad result could see them topple off the podium.
The very light easterly winds have meant that the waypoint at The Lizard has become a very significant mark. With the strong coastal currents there are bound to be boats that get stuck as the Spring stream reaches nearly three knots.
It is expected that a victorious Bristol Clipper will cross the finishing line sometime tonight. The Times Clipper 2000 Race Director, Colin de Mowbray, predicts that “they will just make closing time – they usually do.”