Race leader LMAX Exchange crossed the Equator yesterday afternoon local time, with the crew in a special ceremony in the court of King Neptune as they crossed the line marking the Northern/Southern hemisphere divide.

Joined by Davy Jones and Her Highness Amphitrite, King Neptune likes to pay a visit during an Equator ceremony, and the crew of LMAX Exchange paid tribute to him in an attempt to ensure a safe and quick passage.

Skipper Olivier Cardin described the ceremony. “The ceremony was organised with my Shellbacks (crew who have already sailed across the Equator, the sons of Neptune) to initiate the Pollywogs (those who haven’t sailed across the Equator).

“The Honourable Shellbacks began to find out the faults or crimes of each Pollywog. Then we had to find a suitable punishment (a spoon of marmite, water and flour, songs, hair pulling, with or without teeth).

“Our Pollywogs have accepted their punishment and became ‘Trusty Shellbacks’ in the company of King Neptune on the fine ship LMAX Exchange.”

The fleet is well split over the race course, with the northern yachts either motoring or sailing very slowly towards the Doldrums Corridor, and the southern yachts beating towards Rio and making between 8 and 9 knots.

Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell said the wind should start to fill in from the north east for the northern boats later today and overnight, so respite is in sight.

Skipper of Unicef, in eleventh, Jim Prendergast, said yesterday’s weather and progress had been somewhat vexing.

“We were finally clear of the Cape Verde Islands and just 120 nautical miles to the top of the Doldrums Corridor we set off at a fair lick, occasionally exchanging places with our friends and rivals on Mission Performance.

“After four fun hours we sailed into, well, nothing. The wind stopped. The boat stopped. The sun wouldn't stop. Then we started to drift backwards, pushed by the only thing moving, the ocean waves from the south. We tried different sails. Nothing.

“Twelve hours later, the wind, from all directions, mainly above and in tiny puffs of wind, brought cloud, then rain. Still no wind.

“Eventually the wind gently filled in from the south and we set off west, no closer to the Doldrums Corridor, but at least moving,” Jim added.

Finally, the international teams are well aware of another world sports event that kicked off in England last night, the Rugby World Cup 2015. As if the Clipper Race rivalries were not fierce enough already, crew members now await the results of their teams’ progress to add to the competitive spirit across the fleet.

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