Western Australia skippered by David Pryce is leading the Clipper fleet as it makes its way down the African coast

According to the Clipper website, the Clipper round the world fleet – which started the second leg of the challenge last Tuesday morning from Cascais, Portugal – has, this morning, made a definite split with Liverpool and Cardiff hugging the African coast, and everyone else going further off to the west. This has resulted in short term losses for the inshore duo, but Conor Fogerty (skipper of Cardiff Clipper) and Tim Magee (skipper of Liverpool Clipper) obviously think that short term pain will result in long term gain.

The forecast for 0600 tomorrow shows a band of 15-20 knots directly where Cardiff and Liverpool will be then, and it also shows less wind offshore. Whether this difference in strength will be enough to regain the advantage remains to be seen, but either way it will make for close yacht racing.

With the offshore group, Durban Clipper (skippered by Craig Millar) has made a definite westward jump, and this looks to have put her in an area of lighter winds, closer to the centre of the North Atlantic High pressure system. The centre of the offshore group is lead by Western Australia (skippered by David Pryce), who have made consistent progress and have seen this rewarded by going into first place. They have also gone off slightly to the west, presumably to keep the wind more off the starboard quarter as opposed to coming from directly astern, which gives a faster point of sail.

Victoria is making good progress with her fight to regain the time she lost with her steering problem, and has made excellent runs, including her first 120 mile schedule – this brings up the magical 10 knot average, and is a good sign of a boat being sailed well and raced hard.

The ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) is quite unstable right now. The four-day forecast shows a tropical depression rotating counter-clockwise just south and to the west of the Cape Verde Islands. This will not be a hazard to the yachts, as the winds should not get much above a Force 6, but what it will do is make the local weather patterns very unpredictable, and very varied across the spread of the fleet. This will be where the speed and effort of the crews in changing sails rapidly to suit changing winds will be the major factor in how quickly they pass through this uncertain area if winds into the south-easterly trade winds, which now seem to be down at about three degrees north of the Equator.