Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper, which had been leading for much of Race 8 so far, has been overtaken by New York and Hull & Humber although, with just 36 miles in terms of distance to finish separating the first seven boats, none of the crews or skippers can rest on their laurels.
With fewer than 1000 nautical miles to Santa Cruz and daily runs averaging a shade over 200 miles, the Clipper 07-08 fleet is making excellent progress towards their California destination.
The positions on the race viewer on www.clipperroundtheworld.com
change with almost every sched and noticeably Qingdao, third at one point, has dropped back to eighth place. Skipper of the Chinese entry, Marcus Cholerton-Brown, may go some way to explaining it in his report to the race office. 'Lots of debris in the water today;' he explains. 'Fishing paraphernalia of all kinds including nets, lines and bags. Could be interesting spotting more tonight. Winds very variable as well which has made for some great sailing today with gains and losses on the rest of the fleet.'
After the delay in Hawaii, the last thing any of the skippers will be wanting is to get entangled with any flotsam in their path.
Two of the skippers celebrate their birthdays today. Jamaica's Simon Bradley is 52, while Liverpool 08's Ben Galloway celebrates his 27th birthday on the same day as one of his crew members, Hely Salminen from Finland, marks hers.
The two yachts are moving in and out of visual range. Simon says, 'Another nice sailing day, lots of sunshine and a good breeze for most of the time, although it did go light for a while this afternoon. We have another Clipper yacht in sight ahead of us, so now we have a target to overtake. We think it's Liverpool 08 but at the moment they are too far in front to tell for sure.'
Ben confirms, 'Jamaica just slipped out of sight behind us as the sun set but we know they aren't far behind. Shifty winds for the last few watches have kept us busy which makes the time go faster.'
While the majority of the yachts are still beating to windward at least one of the fleet has managed to fly their spinnaker. Over the last 48 hours Uniquely Singapore has made steady progress north in order to position themselves for a fast run into Santa Cruz. Skipper Mark Preedy says, 'Nice to have the kite up for a few hours today. Just getting ready to hoist again as the wind is just starting to change again. We have decided to chase the pack now as the run north was good. We feel we are in a better position to challenge the leaders as long as we are patient and push hard at the right times. We were shy reaching earlier but the wind was building just too much to risk a broach and gear failure. So we are under number one reaching and waiting to hoist and make that extra half a knot.'
Durban 2010 and Beyond and westernaustralia2011.com are enjoying being back at sea, even if they are motor sailing to catch up with the rest of the fleet. Martin Silk, skipper of the WA entry says, 'We've had good conditions for mast work, enough wind for tuning and enough calm for work aloft. We even managed to drill and tap some threads half way up without a glitch so something is on our side. If only the wind would return and we could turn off the dreaded donkey!' www.clipperroundtheworld.com