After six days of battling strong headwinds, the wind has finally backed and the Clipper Race fleet has swapped tacking for sail changes in a bid to make the most of the fluctuating wind speeds. As the leaders approach the 1000 nautical miles to Sydney mark, the intensity has increased with every team waiting to make its move on its closest rival.

At the front of the fleet, Mission Performance and LMAX Exchange continue to swap positions with the latter currently nine nautical miles closer to the Elliot Brown Timekeeper Cup finish line. Having led for most of the last 24 hours, Mission Performance Skipper Greg Miller says: “Today has turned into a match racing competition between us and LMAX Exchange. This morning Skipper Olivier and his team came up on us from behind and then he tacked, so we tacked on top of him and covered him, then again tonight he tacked again and came below us, so I decided it would be prudent to continue to cover him.

“We are currently side by side racing at around 8 knots at a distance of around four nautical miles. I reckon he has the same plan as me but I may just have to cover him if he makes any moves!”

GREAT Britain, just one nautical mile ahead of Garmin, is in third place as these two teams continue the rivalry that dominated their finish to Races 2 and 3. Garmin has made much more ground over the last twelve hours managing 80 nautical miles to its competitor’s 48 nM. GREAT Britain Skipper Peter Thornton reports on the last 24 hours on board: “It's been good hard sailing. By that I mean changing sails when needed, helming to the feel of the waves and wiping the spray away consistently.

“We've had a few sail plans over the last 24 hours and some worked, others not so much but it's been good experimenting in the middle of a race! Much to the enjoyment of the crew…No, really! The foredeck is becoming a well-trodden path for those that are keen and the cockpit by those who prefer the snake charming side of things.”

Fifth placed Visit Seattle has taken a more southerly route than the rest of the fleet, and only 24 nautical miles separates Unicef in sixth place from Da Nang – Viet Nam in tenth. Amongst them, earlier today a tack north by eighth placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire brought it within half a nautical mile of Qingdao. Skipper Bob Beggs says: “Qingdao is standing up very well to the hammering to windward which tends to shake everything loose if not lashed down or properly secured.

“As was the case yesterday the last 24 hours have been busy with headsail changes, with reefs going in and out, bailing out bilges and the inevitable baking of cakes. We have had two reef lines lose their outer sheaving but have not given way and they are in the process of being repaired and re-reefed.”

ClipperTelemed+ in eleventh place, has declared an Ocean Sprint time of 64 hours 08 minutes. With an approaching low front coming off the mainland behind the boats, the wind is expected to back to the north or north-west and some of the teams including ClipperTelemed+ and PSP Logistics are already experiencing gusts of up to 50 knots, as the the low begins to make its way across the fleet. After that it looks as if the fleet will be heading south of Tasmania with 30-40 knots gusting 60, but from the west – creating a whole different set of tactical dilemmas.

Stay tuned to the Race Viewer to follow the fleet’s progress.

The Race Office has today allocated the penalty points for damage sustained during Race 3 from Cape Town to Albany. To find out which teams have been penalised click here.

To find out more about Penalty Points and how they are distributed, see The Race section of our FAQs.

DON’T MISS: Your chance to win a limited edition watch as worn by the Clipper Race Skippers in their global endurance challenge in this race’s Elliot Brown Timekeeper Cup Competition.

All positions correct as of 1100 UTC.

Join The Race