As the Times Clipper fleet get underway on the last leg of the race, competition is fierce... just 9 miles separates the top five

The first three yachts all sailed 197 nautical miles over the last 24 hours at an average speed of 8.2 knots and after two and a half days of racing just 9 miles separates the top five boats

Jersey still retains her lead but Liverpool and Bristol have both moved up and are in pursuit. Simon Rowell is duty skipper and bemoans the fact that his northerly course took him out of the current and therefore he has lost out in the meantime. Matt Baker in Plymouth has been studying the weather maps and believes that Stuart Gibson in London has the right idea in the south and has sacrificed some ground to move down to join the cockney crew.

Instead of being propelled towards Europe by a succession of low-pressure systems, which they could reasonably expect at this time of year, the fleet is now under the influence of an anti-cyclone, or high pressure system. This is going to play havoc with them over the next 36 hours as they have light and variable winds.

The next turning point for this race is a waypoint three miles south of The Lizard in Cornwall. From that point they will have 127 miles to race to the finish at Jersey. Apart from the Ambrose Light to Lizard being the traditional record course, this turning point will give a good indication of their order near the. As things stand at the moment they will not be breaking any records but that does not stop Simon Rowell going into raptures about sailing under a full moon in glorious conditions. Soon the euphoria will pass and they will be happy for a depression to bring them home.

Positions at 0300 3 September 2001

1 Jersey – 2569 miles to finish

2 Liverpool 5 miles to leader

3 Bristol 6

4 Portsmouth 8

5 Glasgow 9

6 Plymouth 20

7 London 27

8 Leeds 39