In the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, temperatures have continued to build in the PSP Logistics Panama 100 Cup and as the barometer rises, the race stakes are approaching boiling point. Less than 10 miles now separates the top half of the leaderboard, and with the scoring gate now under 300 miles away, a drag race is well and truly on and is too close to call.
The leading teams, positioned west of the rhumb line, Derry~Londonderry~Doire, Team Garmin, OneDLL, Invest Africa, Great Britain, Jamaica Get All Right and Old Pulteney are feeding off the pressure as Team Garmin skipper Jan Ridd, currently in second place, just 0.5 miles behind leaders Derry~Londonderry~Doire explained:
'The pressure of racing especially when it as close as it is at the moment means we cannot ease off at all and have to keep pushing, trying to get as much speed out of the boat as possible.
As the fleet remains spread out across north and south of the rhumb line, Team Garmin's skipper Jan Ridd explains his decision to take the most southerly fleet position: 'My reasons for staying further south are my memories from the Clipper 2009-10 Race, where the whole fleet got caught in a huge storm and two boats suffered catastrophic damage, luckily with no serious injuries to the crew, from hurricane force winds and mountainous seas, whereas the boats further south still managed to sail a reasonable course.
'All the crew are starting to get schedule fever as we are keen to see if we have gained or lost any distance to the other boats. It is really down to fractions of a mile at the moment with all the boats in the same weather and sailing as hard as they can.'
Switzerland’s skipper Vicky Ellis reported 'a cracking surf and a good breeze that really makes these Clipper 70s shift in a fun way.'
In contrast however, Mission Performance had a slightly more challenging 24 hours as it struggled to reach over 10 knots at one point yesterday, only for the wind to fill in before they lost it again. Matt Mitchell, skipper of Mission Performance has a suspicion behind the variable conditions as his team navigates the East Pacific Ocean towards Panama:
'I am putting it down to a little island called Isla Guadalupe, like its namesake in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe; it seems to have a ridiculously big wind shadow effect.
'The countless amount of hours I have spent bobbing about on the south side of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, either close in or 50 miles offshore has been brought back to full recollection over the last few hours. Perhaps that is why the island is named similarly as it has the same effect!' Clipper Round the World