After 22 days of racing, LMAX Exchange is within 55 nautical miles of the Wardan Whip finish line and, with approximately 120 nautical miles separating it from second placed Qingdao, looks set to take top honours later today.

The rest of the fleet has been making steady progress since yesterday with some teams picking up much stronger winds than they had expected, but it is LMAX Exchange which has led for almost this entire race from Cape Town and will take top place on the podium for the second time in the Clipper 2015-16 Race. Skipper Olivier Cardin summarises his team’s experience across the Southern Ocean: “It was time for us to make a comeback in this race. On the tactical and strategic side, after the escape of the first few days out of Cape Town, we worked on the race ahead. We had to maintain the lead and play with the front shifts. In terms of the weather conditions, we were expecting worse. After the storm around the Cape of Good Hope, we followed a high pressure system in a medium wind. Then, after we passed the Scoring Gate, we entered two weeks of low pressure and front passages.

“On the crew side, their adaptation to this environment was a good surprise: we had a wet boat outside and inside, difficult evolutions and race rhythm. Deck, meal and sleeping bag became the basis of life. For all the team, it’s been a real life experience,” says Olivier, whose team will also take three bonus points for being first through the Southern Ocean Scoring Gate.

Despite slipping back to third place after getting stuck in a wind hole, Derry~Londonderry~Doire has not given up on its chances of overtaking Qingdao. 180 nautical miles from the finish, Skipper Daniel Smith and his crew are only eleven nautical miles to the stern of the Chinese sponsored entry. He says: “Coming out of the wind hole took longer than we thought and it took a long time for the wind to fill in to get us moving and we are now chasing Qingdao again. Fortunately now we have a stiff breeze and our tactics have put us further upwind so there is still some racing left in this race to Albany.”

As the band of high pressure that caught out the leaders moves slightly eastwards, although the rest of the fleet will still have light winds to tackle, the path to Albany could be slightly less complicated for the boats that chose a southerly approach. For fourth and fifth placed teams Garmin and GREAT Britain, a sudden burst of strong winds has allowed them to pick up speed, even if the choppy sea state has resulted in some challenging sailing, as GREAT Britain Skipper Peter Thornton reports: “It's windy again. In fact windier than expected: a good Gale 8 and likely to get stronger. So we've shortened sail (allowing for some good wet foredeck and pit work) and are heading at a good pace for Australia, with a few slams and living life on an angular rollercoaster again.”

In the middle of the fleet, only 70 nautical miles separates Mission Performance in sixth, IchorCoal in seventh and Da Nang – Viet Nam in eighth place. Behind them in tenth, Visit Seattle had been making ground on PSP Logistics but the latter went into Stealth Mode at 0000 UTC so we will have to see who comes out in front in that duel when it reappears on the Race Viewer.

The last 24 hours has seen another positional change in the Current Race Standings as Unicef has moved ahead of ClipperTelemed+ into eleventh place. Unicef Skipper Jim Prendergast says: “This morning's 0600 UTC watch change brought two very welcome pieces of information:
1. We now have less than 1000 nautical miles DTF (Distance to Finish) to Albany
2. Unicef is currently placed eleventh! Woohoo!
Despite the very English drizzle on deck, both items of news aroused a cheer from the crew.

“We hope to continue to sail below the high above us, and so far the wind is being kind and we are making a steady 10 knots in an easterly direction. We are keeping a watchful eye on the rest of the fleet's progress though the light winds.”

With all the teams having completed the Ocean Sprint, Derry~Londonderry~Doire’s time of 17 hours 51 minutes remains the fastest recorded time and the team will be awarded two bonus points, pending verification from the Race Office.

Final Ocean Sprint times for the fleet:
17 hours 51 minutes: Derry~Londonderry~Doire
18 hours 18 minutes: LMAX Exchange
18 hours 19 minutes:Qingdao
20 hours 07 minutes: Mission Performance
21 hours 15 minutes: Visit Seattle
22 hours 28 minutes: PSP Logistics
23 hours 08 minutes: Unicef
24 hours 02 minutes: Da Nang – Viet Nam
24 hours 35 minutes:GREAT Britain
24 hours 41 minutes:Garmin
24 hours 52 minutes: ClipperTelemed+
27 hours 45 minutes: IchorCoal

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to see whose tactics pay off as Race 3 enters the final stages.

For the latest ETAs into Albany, click here.

All positions correct at 1000 UTC.

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Elliot Brown Watches - Official Time Keeper Until Race Start : The Atlantic Homecoming Leg Map + Race Standings