The first anticipated low front is still building and has not yet brought its strongest winds but as predicted, steady south westerly winds have produced greatest gains for the southern teams in the fleet whilst wind holes and headwinds hampered progress for those positioned further north.
Invest Africa continued its excellent progress, and despite a ‘kitemare’ situation overnight, now leads the fleet, gunning towards the Scoring Gate with Henri Lloyd close behind in second place.
Eric Holden, Henri Lloyd skipper said: “We are now on the final hundred miles to the Scoring Gate and have a nice kite reach angle in from the south. Invest Africa is still a few miles ahead and sailing really well. We're doing all we can but can't seem to claw back any miles on them.”
Further north, Derry~Londonderry~Doire slipped to third after running into lighter winds. Qingdao follows, just three miles behind and will be aiming to steal the final Scoring Gate point from their clutches. The first three yachts to pass through the gate will be awarded 3, 2 and 1 points respectively.
GREAT Britain, Switzerland and Old Pulteney remain in hot pursuit (OneDLL is in Stealth Mode until 16:00 UTC tomorrow) with less than 100 miles currently separating the top seven teams.
As the low front continues to take shape, the current cold front the teams are experiencing is predicted to strengthen, bringing very heavy rain and strong gusts into the 70’s and higher, though those furthest east may escape its strongest winds at first.
Furthest south and further down the leaderboard, Team Garmin, and Jamaica Get All Right are making steady progress in winds currently up to 40 knots. Both teams skippers have experienced this leg before in the 09/10 Clipper Race and Team Garmin’s Jan Ridd explained: “Well this is starting to feel a bit familiar, we are currently reaching with as much white sail up as we dare, and still hitting surfs of over 20 knots, but looking ahead at the weather information sent daily to all the fleet I am starting to feel a little apprehensive about the weather the fleet will experience.
“It looks like a large, strong low pressure system will form ahead of us and possibly give hurricane force winds to most of the fleet. I am eagerly awaiting today's weather as I am keen to see if Team Garmin needs to head further south to avoid the fiercest part of the storm.”
With just over 3,000 miles left to San Francisco, and with further weather systems building, the champagne sailing conditions enjoyed in the first week are certainly becoming a distant memory as the Pacific starts to live up to its tough expectations.