What a difference a day makes. Only 24 hours ago the fleet were struggling to make headway against the current with little wind and snow falling on the decks. Since then, the predicted northerly wind has increased and the fleet is tearing down the Yellow Sea covering nearly 250 nautical miles per day.
The current winds should propel the fleet of ten internationally-backed 68-foot racing yachts out of the Yellow Sea past the southern tip of Japan and into the Pacific Ocean over the next 48 hours or so.
Joff Bailey, Race Director, says, 'The majority of skippers are reporting that they are either using a poled out headsail or are risking their heavy weight spinnakers as they break through the 20 knot boat speed barrier with one skipper reporting more than 22 knots.'
Overall race leaders, Durban 2010 and Beyond, have been pushing hard according to skipper, Ricky Chalmers, who emailed the Race Office this morning to say, 'We have gone from 'yawn' sailing to 'yee ha' sailing in a matter of 24 hours. After weighing our anchor at first light yesterday with a snow-laden deck and ghosting forward, spotting wind lines on a mirrored sea, we are now screaming along surfing big waves.'
Speed hasn't come without its problems though. Ricky says, 'Our little blast with the kite almost ended in tears when the guy broke and we wrapped the kite around various bits of rigging. As it turned out, we only have a few minor holes and a tear on the foot about a metre long. The sail repair team have the job of fixing it well in hand.'
On southern hemisphere rivals, westernaustralia2011.com they have taken a more cautious approach in the short term, looking for long term gains, according to skipper Martin Silk. He says, 'Losses overnight have been balanced by nil damage, as we nurture new crew into helming the boat. Although a conservative approach, we now have a heavy weight spinnaker flying in a steady 25 knots of wind and confidence is growing as we put our first target behind us. With a long way to go, consistency, good strategy and limited breakages will be paramount to a successful race.'
More than 60 new crew joined in Qingdao and they are all starting to find their sea legs as the old hands guide them in either sail trim or helming. They have also put yesterday's snow behind them and are already starting to see a change in the weather as they blast their way towards the southern tip of Japan.
'Even the sun is shining,' says Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper skipper, Hannah Jenner. 'The water temperature is up by four degrees and the bitter chill has gone from the air. We are still dressed up like sumo wrestlers though!'
Joff says, 'There are no tactics at the moment other than to go fast. It is a straight drag race down to the south of Japan. Once the yachts get into the Pacific the tactics will start to kick in.'
The ten yachts still have more than 4,000 miles to go to their next destination, Honolulu in Hawaii, where they are due to arrive on approximately 20 March. OSITIONS AT 1200 GMT, 26 FEBRUARY 2008
1. Hull & Humber: Distance to Finish (DTF) 4120
2. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: DTF 4121 (Distance to Leader 1)
3. Liverpool 08: DTF 4121 (+1)
4. New York: DTF 4126 (+6)
5. Durban 2010 and Beyond: DTF 4128 (+8)
6. Uniquely Singapore: DTF 4135 (+15)
7. Nova Scotia: DTF 4148 (+28)
8. Qingdao: DTF 4151 (+31)
9. westernaustralia2011.com: DTF 4166 (+46)
10. Jamaica: DTF 4225 (+105) [position at 0600 GMT] www.clipperroundtheworld.com Berths are currently available for the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht
Race. For more information call +44 (0) 2392 526000 or email