Clipper Round the World Yacht Race second race in leg one, which started in Madeira and will finish in Rio De Janeiro, is currently underway.
Looking at the race viewer today there is a classic case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer as the distance between the front runners and those at the back of the fleet gets larger with each 24 hour period at sea. Those reaping the rewards are Gold Coast Australia, Singapore and Welcome to Yorkshire who have stretched out a lead of 200 nautical miles on the rest of the fleet.
At present Gold Coast Australia is clearly enjoying their position at the front of the pack but are taking special care not to end their race early through misfortune as skipper Richard Hewson explains.
'We are now only 60 nautical miles from the Equator and have just passed Penedos de Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo, a group of rocks off the Brazilian coast that shoot up from the sea floor 3,650m below. The pilot book describes Penedos de Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo, otherwise known as St Paul's Rocks, as a group of rocks of volcanic origin which belong to Brazil.
Although steep they should be approached with extreme caution as surveys are incomplete. In 1974 MV Anna Christina sank after striking an unknown object, probably a rock, ten nautical miles south west of the group. As we didn't want to suffer the same fate we consequently gave the rocks a very wide berth.
'From here we will resume our rhumb line of 209 to Rio, this will take us 50 nautical miles from the north east tip of Brazil, where we hope to pick up the Brazil current which can run up to 2 knots down the coast at various times of the year.'
Singapore set sail in race two (from Madeira to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. - onEdition ©?nid=87618
Just behind Gold Coast Australia there is a close battle going on between Singapore and Welcome to Yorkshire with just four nautical miles separating the two teams in terms of distance to finish.
'Our tussle with leaders Gold Coast Australia and Singapore continues and we are doing all we can to do our Welcome to Yorkshire sponsors, families and friends proud,' says skipper Rupert Dean. 'Whilst, for some reason, our boat speed hasn't been so good over the past 36 hours we are working on it and have every intention of hunting these fine competitors down.
'As far as the fleet goes, the race remains wide open and a lot could happen between now and the finish in Rio. The boats to the west of us are a particular threat, due to the winds being from a more southerly direction than normal, giving them the freedom to reach off more than we can. Hopefully the airflow will become more easterly as we venture south.'
The current wind direction is also affecting Singapore's performance in relation to the Gold Coast entry but skipper Ben Bowley is clearly happy with his team's efforts and enjoying the second half of race two.
Ben says, 'Yesterday saw the wind veer slightly and head us so we were required to harden up on sheets and accept that we were not going to quite make course to the waypoint. This was a little frustrating as we were all acutely aware of the fact that Gold Coast Australia, being further to the east, would not have this issue and would be able to extend their now comfortable lead over us.
'As the wind eased the sea state dropped and the boat reduced her angle of heel to a much more tolerable 15 degrees. Less breeze also allowed us to open a few of the smaller hatches without fear of the boat becoming flooded, a great relief for all those below decks, especially the mothers working over a hot stove! As the afternoon wore into evening the wind had the good nature to back round and ease off, this had the effect of lifting us and allowing us to fly the Yankee 1, my personal favourite, and get the boat a little high of our rhumb line course. As delightful a night sailing as could ever be wished for ensued - the rich canopy of the sky bejewelled by so many stars and the Milky Way a dazzling bracelet of a billion dusted diamonds. This was the treat that comes at the end of several stressful days sailing.
'We have to remember that even though we may have dropped a place to the Aussies, to still be in the running for a podium after all that has happened is a fantastic achievement for all the crew to be proud off.'
Welcome to Yorkshire's skipper warns that the boats out west could yet prove a threat to a podium position but at the moment the teams are cursed by light winds.
'It's been another challenging night of light airs and trying to coax the boat upwind into barely a breath at times,' explains Visit Finland's skipper Olly Osborne. 'The passage of the tropical waves to the north still makes this part of the trades very changeable and the need to get south is great as the breeze will favour those in the more southerly positions. This is very frustrating.'
Things are equally as frustrating for the team furthest west but a good all crew debrief has helped lift morale on board Geraldton Western Australia according to skipper Juan Coetzer.
'Another day on the high seas and on the same tack,' reports Juan. 'We tried to head to Rio on the other tack but the course took us north west, not the direction we wanted to go!
'On the upside we had a good happy hour meeting where we talked about our current position in the race. I explained to the crew that we are on our present course for a reason and it was a long term strategy that should pay off once the wind swings around to the south east. We also covered some other niggles and the outcome was very positive leaving the crew driven and motivated to chase down one boat at a time starting with ninth place.'
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital set sail in race two (from Madeira to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race - onEdition ©?nid=87618
The crew on board Edinburgh Inspiring Capital are of the same mindset as Geraldton Western Australia and, as skipper Gordon Reid explains, it's all about the numbers.
'On board Edinburgh Inspiring Capital the focus is very much on the magic numbers: VMG (Velocity Made Good), CMG(Course Made Good), wind direction and wind speed.
'Finding the right combination or the magic formula to maximise the speed to our Race 2 destination of sunny Rio, the crew have been listening to the skipper bang on about making the numbers work and are now very much on the same page. They are constantly squeezing every bit of speed out of the boat and have the maximum amount of sail up, being constantly trimmed, trimmed and trimmed some more!
'The conversation is very much focussed on how we can start taking places again. With focus and commitment on the purple beastie we know that anything is possible and so on we truck!'
Conditions are just as light and challenging on the opposite side of the fleet and skipper, Mat Booth, begins his morning report with a plea of, 'More wind please!' For the Dutch entry in Clipper 11-12 it's been a frustrating approach to the Equator as they watch the leading pack extend their lead with every position report.
'The headwinds have eased and it does not look like there will be a change in direction for a while yet,' explains Mat. 'As ever, that's what we've got so we'll make the best of it.
'We're trying to avoid some areas of light breeze by heading more west than we would normally go. Being this far west could cause us to be headed as we come around the eastern tip of Brazil but if we go east now light airs could be the result so it's a catch 22 situation. A dash east might be in order at some point.
'Spirits are high as ever and the crew are working hard to get the most from the yacht. We've been spending the time covering areas of sail trim that need refreshing, perfecting helming and polishing the crew's skill set. So for now it's onwards and upwards, keep tacking and soon we'll have that angle we're after - it will come.'
The skipper of Qingdao, Ian Conchie, is praying for the same thing but he and his crew are relishing the challenge of what lies ahead.
'Another beautiful sailing day if still in the wrong direction,' says Ian. 'We continue to make steady progress waiting for the wind to back to allow us to sail due south around the coast of Brazil. In the changeable wind conditions the crew are busy making tweaks to the sail trim trying to keep the boat optimised.
'At the same time we await each update to see how the fleet is doing. We have New York out to the east of us and the crew are keen not to allow them to overtake, which will be hard given that they will be sailing better wind angles - but we like a challenge!'
Although at this stage the team on board Qingdao need not worry as progress is equally slow on the US entry according to Leg 1 crew member, Andrew Priest.
'A frustratingly slow paced day where we averaged less than six knots with light winds just four degrees or so north of the Equator.
'Chances were aplenty to continue the cleaning of the boat but we would prefer of course to be crawling forward to change a headsail or trying to decide between a heavy or medium weight spinnaker. But not for now as we wait for King Neptune to allow us to move forward.
'Our skipper, Gareth, is full of encouragement, reminding us to sit forward and leeward in the lighter winds to help prompt New York to inch onwards. Forecasts show more light winds in coming days so we are preparing for more of the same and trying to keep spirits up.'
Something that will certainly lift the spirits of all the teams will be the fun celebrations of crossing the Equator and, for the crew of Derry-Londonderry, it will be a busy day as everyone is to be initiated according to skipper, Mark Light.
'Our thoughts have turned to the Equator and King Neptune - we have a ceremony planned involving the usual Royal Court of the Deep. This will involve accusations, insults and initiations. Only two out of 18 on board have crossed the Equator before, one of those was in a submarine and the other was in a power boat with no initiation, so everyone will be subject to King Neptune and his will, including myself. We are all looking forward to the prospect of great humiliation and then redemption from the seas.' Positions at 0900 UTC, Tuesday 23 August Boat / DTF* / DTL**
1 Gold Coast Australia / 1657nm /
2 Singapore / 1688nm / +31nm
3 Welcome to Yorkshire / 1699nm / +43nm
4 Qingdao / 1896nm / +240nm
5 Derry-Londonderry / 1932nm / +275nm
6 New York / 1934nm / +277nm
7 De Lage Landen / 1961nm / +304nm
8 Visit Finland / 1997nm / +340nm
9 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital / 2070nm / +413nm
10 Geraldton Western Australia / 2111nm / +454nm
DTF* = Distance to Finish, DTL** = Distance to Leader. Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found here
. Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website