Liverpool take lead in downwind conditions

Hull & Humber - mast shot

The battle for the top positions is continuing with Liverpool 08 and New York overtaking Hull & Humber in between the midnight and 06:00 GMT schedules. This is predominantly due to the slightly stronger breeze that the two leading yachts are enjoying at the moment and their tactical decision to stay further east.

At 06:00 GMT New York were running neck and neck with Liverpool 08. Skipper of the European Capital of Culture entry, Ben Galloway says, 'We're bang on course for the Sunda Strait, sailing along at 10 knots SOG [speed over
ground] and the sun is shining. All we need now is first place!' By the midday position report Ben and his team had their wish.

Over the next few days the whole fleet will be entering an area of lighter and more unpredictable winds as they get closer and closer to the Monsoon trough which lies in the path of the fleet between Australia and Indonesia. It is an area of low pressure and is effectively an ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone) similar to the Doldrums in the Atlantic Ocean.

Jamaica, Uniquely Singapore, Qingdao and, to a certain extent, Hull & Humber have continued to make further progress west. This has meant that they have lost some miles by not making as good progress towards the finish as the
leading yachts. Race Director Joff Bailey explains why. 'This move west is not an attempt to get stronger winds but to try to retain the wind they have for longer as they get closer to the area of lighter winds ahead of them. This is a longer-term strategy that could pay off over the next four or five days.'

Normally resolute in his tactical decisions, Durban 2010 and Beyond skipper, Ricky Chalmers, has changed his mind about his team's plans - and now he's regretting it. 'Our plan to go east of the rhumb line was thwarted by a bad sched where we lost ten miles to each of the lead boats. So I chickened out and came back to the winning gybe. Now I am regretting my lack of resolve,' he says, 'as east has turned out to be best (well so far at least) and I wish that we were another 60 or so miles across. Nova Scotia is holding prime easterly position and will become the boat to beat soon.'

Joff, says, 'The southerly winds the fleet has been enjoying since the start has allowed all of the teams to fly their spinnakers for several days. Each yacht has three spinnakers for light, medium and strong winds. From the reports coming into the Race Office one or two of the crews have been pushing their spinnakers a bit too far.'

westernaustralia2011.com has been hampered for several hours after damaging a spinnaker. Skipper Martin Silk reported this morning, 'Repairs to the clew of our medium weight are still in progress, including construction of a
missing piece. Being three layers thick, cutting and assembling panel by panel is slow and meticulous, but these repairs cannot be rushed with so many miles to go. Soon it will proudly fly again.'

Clipper - positions at 12:00GMT 5 January 2008

1. Liverpool 08: Distance to Finish (DTF) 1563
2. New York: DTF 1564 (Distance to Leader [DTL]: +1)
3. Hull & Humber: DTF 1573 (+10)
4. Nova Scotia: DTF 1583 (+20)
5. Durban 2010 and Beyond: DTF 1589 (+26)
6. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: DTF 1589 (+26)
7. westernaustralia2011.com: DTF 1596 (+33)
8. Uniquely Singapore: DTF 1636 (+73)
9. Qingdao: DTF 1640 (+77)
10. Jamaica: DTF 1671 (+108)
http://www.sail-world.com/40578