Clipper- Heavy squalls overnight 66 knots gusts

Yee haa! Nova Scotia surfs towards Hawaii - Clipper 07-08
Overnight the Clipper fleet has been enjoying steady winds of around 15 – 20 knots from the west. This has allowed all the teams to continue making good progress east over the last 24 hours, with daily runs between 200 and 250 nautical miles.

Several of the yachts reported some heavy squalls during the night with Durban 2010 and Beyond measuring a gust of 66 knots and many others reporting gusts of more than 40 knots. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper skipper, Hannah Jenner, reports a night of squall management, saying, 'It's been a bit of a wild night, the GRIB files showed 20 knots but we got 45! The medium weight spinnaker is now in one piece after 32 hours of work and we are now waiting for some gentle zephyrs to try it out, fingers crossed!'

Race Director Joff Bailey says, 'Squalls can usually be seen on the radar, or by the naked eye as a line of dark and angry clouds. If the crews are not vigilant and miss the tell tale signs the strong gusts of winds can cause havoc on deck and damage sails and equipment. Certainly from the reports coming from Qingdao they had a problem this morning, which resulted in damage to their jockey pole and, more importantly, a loss of miles.'

Hull & Humber is still leading Race 7 and the skipper and crew will be feeling the pressure having held on to the lead for some considerable time. With a lead of only 11 nautical miles any small mistake or sail damage will let the chasing teams back into the game.

Following a recent tactical mistake by heading north, is now starting to make good progress east. Skipper Martin Silk explains their recent loss of miles: 'For anyone wondering what happened to yesterday, no we didn't break anything, we just ran out of wind for a bit longer than desired. Since midnight it's been kite up, kite down, then eventually up to stay and we have now changed to the heavy weight spinnaker. With good surf and 30 knots from the west we are making much better progress, and need to be! There's a little bit of catching up to do, but what the hell, we've done it before - can we do it again?'

With the forecasted winds over the next few days being stronger for the WA team's position than the other teams further south there is every chance they will be able to claw back the miles they have lost.

Variety has been the spice of life so far in Race 7 with many of the skippers making reference to the changeable weather conditions. Jamaica skipper Simon Bradley says, 'We've had an interesting variety of conditions so far on this leg, from snow and cold, to wet and warm, 10 – 45 knots of wind, sunshine, rain and dark clouds. We've got a little under 3000 nautical miles to go so who knows what else we're going to see and experience en route to Hawaii.'

The favourable downwind conditions currently being experienced are forecasted to continue for at least the next 48 hours, which will see the entire fleet continue to make excellent progress towards the finish in Hawaii.

Confident of a podium position across the finish line is Liverpool 08, as skipper Ben Galloway comments this morning. 'Being in fifth place by only one nautical mile and catching up the leaders with every schedule now for the last 24 hours, we know we can end up on the podium, but still a long way to go.'

Based on their current progress the first yachts are due to arrive in the Ala Wai Small Yacht Harbour in Honolulu, Hawaii, on approximately 20 March.

Positions at 0600 GMT, 04 March 2008
1. Hull & Humber: Distance to Finish (DTF) 2673
2. New York: DTF 2684 (Distance to Leader +11)
3. Qingdao: DTF 2695 (+22)
4. Durban 2010 and Beyond: DTF 2696 (+23)
5. Liverpool 08: DTF 2713 (+40)
6. Nova Scotia: DTF 2715 (+42)
7. Uniquely Singapore: DTF 2726 (+53)
8. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: DTF 2727 (+54)
9. DTF 2848 (+175)
10. Jamaica: DTF 2864 (+191

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