Jamaica has finally been pushed off the top spot after 15 days in the lead, though she is far from out of contention, reporting just three nautical miles to the finish behind the new race leaders Hull & Humber.
In fact there is everything to play for amongst the top five boats, who after 1800 nautical miles of racing have just 16 nautical miles between them in terms of distance to finish. As the leading pack break free from the coast of Taiwan, Jamaica has chosen a more easterly course paralleling with the top four competitors. This may be an after effect of a quest for smoother waters, found just a few miles away from the Taiwanese coastline and the wind over current there. Durban 2010 and Beyond skipper Ricky Chalmers spoke about choosing this tactic a few days ago: “I am glad we moved east, out of the Japanese current - forgoing the 1 or 1.5 knots it was giving us, but dramatically flattening the seas. The wind over that current was quite bad.”
Jamaica may also be looking to get a better angle on the headwinds to come. The fleet is currently reporting winds of approximately 20 knots from the north north-east which have noticeably abated over the last six hours.
Qingdao skipper Marcus Cholerton-Brown reflected on the weather the crew has just come through and praised their determination: “Another very bouncy night in the Luzon Strait, with gale force winds and waves crashing over the boat. On several occasions even the helmsman would be up to his chest in water. It takes a lot of bottle to look up the companionway at the pitch darkness, watching waves crash over the cockpit and listening to the wind in the rigging, and then climb up into it to begin your watch. The mixture of apprehension and excitement can only be experienced. Top marks to the crew of Qingdao, every one of them stepped up to the mark.”
Lizzie Nicholas, Race Secretary: “This respite in the wind conditions is giving the whole fleet a chance to rest, to clean up and dry out, and to make any necessary repairs before the next band of stronger wind comes through on Monday afternoon (GMT) which is forecasted to stay with them for approximately 18 hours.” POSITIONS AT 0600 GMT 10 FEBRUARY 2008
Hull & Humber: Distance To Finish (DTF) 693
Jamaica: DTF 696, (Distance To Leader +3)
New York: DTF 697 (+4)
Durban 2010 & Beyond: DTF 701 (+8)
Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: DTF 709 (+16)
westernaustralia2011.com: DTF 744 (+51)
Liverpool 08: DTF 746 (+53)
Uniquely Singapore: DTF 761 (+68)
Nova Scotia: DTF 780 (+87)
Qingdao: DTF 881 (+188)