Lighter winds slowed progress for some yesterday, but depending on their position in the spread out fleet, winds have now built again and the blustery sleigh ride is back on track for the front half of the fleet.

The leading six boats, LMAX Exchange, Derry~Londonderry~Doire, Qingdao, GREAT Britain, Mission Peformance and Garmin, are currently running down wind with boat speeds up to 13 knots, as Qingdao Skipper Bob Beggs reports: “Well the strong winds that some of the fleet had experienced since leaving Cape Agulhas have now come to play with Qingdao. With its arrival comes all the emotions associated with sailing in the Roaring Forties. I can see excitement in some faces, awe and fear in others. In fact, if you’re not at least a little frightened, you have no right to be here.”

Ash Skett, Skipper of sixth placed team Garmin, explains how his tactical decision to stay south didn’t quite work as planned: “Yesterday we ran out of wind as a ridge of high pressure spread up from the south. Unfortunately our efforts to find a stream of wind just above the ice limit were in vain as the ridge did not extend as far north as originally forecast. This meant that both Mission Performance and GREAT Britain would have been less affected by it than us.

“The second weather front arrived in the afternoon and we peeled from the lightweight spinnaker to the heavyweight for a while before switching to a Yankee, as the wind had built to speeds much higher than the 35 knots predicted by the wind files.

“It has been a long night as the extra wind has brought with it a horrible short sea which is making helming very hard work indeed. Still, we are making good progress at last which is important as I feel that we are among the last boats in the fleet to get these favourable winds.”

In the back half of the fleet which consists of IchorCoal, Da Nang – Viet Nam, PSP Logistics, ClipperTelemed+, Visit Seattle, and Unicef, eleventh placed Visit Seattle Skipper Huw Fernie explains: “Weather wise it's our turn at the back of the fleet to have a patch of light winds and low boat speeds. A good time to rest up and check over everything that has been taking such a beating these last few days. Undoubtedly there will be something to fix and it's a lot easier now than during a storm.

Examining the forecast ahead of them however, Huw is hopeful that fortunes will improve: “A few hours of pointing in random directions and not going too fast and then we'll be overtaken by the light stuff, back into the stronger winds and maybe we'll get some of those big waves we've all been waiting for too.”

A new expected weather front should start to reach the western boats in the next 24 hours. It is moving about four times as fast as the fleet is, so will bring rapidly changing conditions and a confused sea state as the wind backs by over 60 degrees. It should be strong too, with gusts ahead of the front reaching 60 knots.

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to see how it affects the fleet.

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