Strong Trade winds in the north have sent London and Glasgow Clipper flying with average speeds of over 9 knots enabling Stuart Gibson and his crew in London to open out their lead

Strong Trade winds in the north have given London and Glasgow a grand day’s racing with average speeds over 9 knots and over 220 miles covered. This has enabled Stuart Gibson and his crew in London to open out their lead again and they now have a 29 mile cushion between them and a very mean and hungry looking pack astern of them. With less than 700 miles to go they hold a very strong position but then they did four days ago when it suddenly all went wrong. Is London finally set for their first win of the race?

Matt baker in Plymouth is Duty Skipper and reports that he now has both Jersey and Liverpool in sight. ‘I left Cape Town 3000 miles astern and here I am match racing round the cans!’ Matt says he thinks the future is to work round to open some distance to the north of these two during the night and sail round the top of them. Jersey’s run of 206 miles was a crucial 7 miles better than Liverpool’s and has enabled them to bunch up. They now have 18 miles on Bristol but the most important aspect will be how many places the can finish ahead of her. The north/south separation between these two has increased from 40 to 75 miles and so they could experience quite different conditions as they race towards the finish.

Both Portsmouth and Leeds had good runs and are sprinting towards Salvador. Maybe they cannot wait to tour the 365 churches in this magnificent city. The strong Trade winds look set to remain providing a fast finish to the race but I can assure everyone that at present Salvador is not basking in glorious weather. Having been seriously short of rain someone appears to have done something about it and there have been torrential down pours for the last three days. I assume these will stop just before the Clippers arrive.

One experience that will affect the skippers and crews is that when they approach the Brazil coast they will not have detailed ARCS electronic charts. These charts, produced by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), are the world standard for the shipping industry but a few countries are not signed up to the system. As a result the Clippers will be doing, for them, the unusual practice of navigating using paper charts! In reality paper charts are used as a back up and for training purposes but it is no bad thing to use them in earnest once again.

Positions at 03:00 18 July 2001

1 London 705 miles to Salvador

2 Liverpool 29 miles to leader

3 Jersey 31

4 Plymouth 34

5 Bristol 49

6 Portsmouth 61

7 Leeds 114

8 Glasgow 141