Hong Kong has taken a respectable lead in the Clipper 2002 Race as the fleet heads for Hawaii

After a brief spell in the doldrums, Hong Kong Clipper now seems to have clear wind almost all the way to Hawaii. With 30 knots of wind from the east, they are now able to head straight to the finish line and we will soon see an increase in their daily runs as they alternate between a poled out headsail and their heavy weight spinnaker.

Hong Kong’s northern position will also start to look less extreme as some of the boats in the south begin to head more to the north. This morning’s position chart at clipper-ventures.com, shows London Clipper for one are beginning to carve northwards and it will be interesting to see how much they converge with Hong Kong over the next few days.

As it stands London Clipper would seem to have about 100 miles at most before they break clear to the north and possibly less if the forecast holds good. Jersey, Cape Town and Glasgow are also looking good.

Bristol Clipper, steaming along in clear wind to the south of the pack have been very certain of the wisdom of their course and by rights this should have continued until they too chose to head north at the point where skipper Richard Butler thought the ITCZ was at its narrowest. Yet lo and behold at about 03:00 GMT this morning they were struggling to make progress in only 5 knots of breeze. They had still managed a good run, but as the day wore on had slowly increased sail as the breeze died, flopping around under windseeker by the time of the 04:00 radio sched.

Moral should be good on Cape Town Clipper at the moment. Not only are they in a very respectable fifth place but the sun is shining and they have finished the repair to their medium weight spinnaker. With much trepidation they finally re-hoisted it, rivets and all, and flew it successfully for over seven hours, though their latest report mentions that they have now sensibly changed down to the heavyweight as the wind has increased a little.

Latest Positions

04:00, 17 January 2003

1 Jersey 2788.31 (nautical miles)

2 London 2807.64

3 Bristol 2828.52

4 Liverpool 2831.90

5 Cape Town 2855.42

6 Glasgow 2871.96

7 New York 2874.17

8 Hong Kong 3071.57