The fleet of the Times Clipper Race in now clipping along at nine knots towards the Jersey finish line but with progress in the next 24 hours uncertain, the luckiest crew will win this leg

“Hooray, hurra,” cried Glasgow Clipper skipper Ed Green, “Yippee, jeepers, Wembley stadium erupts, Twickenham salutes, the heavens explode with a bloom of fireworks, the angels chorus hallelujah and Red Rum scores a hat-trick at Fulham. Smoke me a kipper we might be in for breakfast. Yes folks, were moving.”

Green’s joy at finding himself in fourth place maybe unconfined today, as the fleet clips along towards Jersey at nine knots with a fresh northeasterly. A quick look at tomorrow’s synoptics, however, suggests that as the occluded low moves east over the Benelux countries, their joy will vanish with the breeze as isobars abandon the area.

This breeze has also flipped the leaderboard about a bit as yesterday’s joint leaders, Bristol and London Clippers, were in the south when the wind filled from the north, giving the northerly portion of the fleet several hours’ headstart. Both boats dropped from joint first to seventh and eighth in that time, highlighting the tense competition in this penultimate leg.

The main beneficiary of this shuffle has been Paul de la Haye’s Jersey Clipper. He boldly resisted the urge to cover Bristol’s jaunt south and now finds himself six places ahead of their main rival for the Times Clipper trophy. Six places in this fleet however, equates to just 14 miles, according to figures polled at 0300 this morning.

Jersey Clipper will be hoping to make the most of her slender one-mile lead over second-placed Liverpool Clipper and five-mile lead over third placed Leeds Clipper but with no clear weather patterns emerging, progress over the next day or two will be a matter of luck and not judgement. The smart move might be to head for the middle of the fleet to limit potential losses.

At 0300 this morning, Jersey Clipper had 352 miles to the long-overdue Jersey finish (the fleet was originally expected on Tuesday). She is 20 miles off Ireland’s southwestern coast and sailing within sight of Dursey Head and its trinity of islands, Bull, Cow and Calf. The five other Clipper boats are close by and London and Bristol are to the south-southwest of the leading group.

The Jersey stopover was intended to be a pit-stop before the final dash to the grandstand finish in Portsmouth. The race organisers now find themselves way behind schedule and the unsavoury prospect of cancelling the final leg has occurred both to them and to the crews. Neither would welcome it and as things stand, the new finish will be – with pie-in-the-sky precision – at 1200, Gunwharf Quay, Portsmouth. Watch the finish from Southsea at 1100.

London’s Ian Dickens sympathises with the organisers’ dilemma but warns against wrecking the spectacle of the finish in Portsmouth. “You have to feel sorry for Clipper. They built in an adequate number of safety valve days in to this leg and even if they had added two more, it would still not have been enough. And with the championship so close, the worst thing in the world would be to call the race early in order to appease the sponsors and the crowds.”

The Times Clipper Race: New Jersey-Jersey Standings at 0300 this morning

  • 1. Jersey – 352
  • 2. Liverpool – 353
  • 3. Leeds – 357
  • 4. Glasgow – 359
  • 5. Plymouth – 362
  • 6. Portsmouth – 364
  • 7. Bristol – 366
  • 8. London – 380