The Times Clipper 2000 fleet are scheduled to arrive in Cape Town today following a 2,311 mile race from Mauritius

The Times Clipper 2000 fleet are scheduled to arrive in Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest city, sometime today following a 2,311 mile long race from Mauritius which has been characterised by highly variable weather conditions and ocean currents. This race has also seen Bristol Clipper’s renewed dominance of the fleet following Jersey Clipper’s fourth consecutive race win into Mauritius.

Bristol Clipper has now left the friendly Agulhas current, which has rocketed her along the coast for the last 48 hours, having taken the decision to leave the current as it swooped to the SW along the 200 metre line round the Agulhas Bank. Until late last night they were still making good progress with a strong easterly wind, but this has also deserted them and they are now battling against gale force head winds as they beat up to Cape Agulhas. The adverse weather should not hold out for too long though and the wind will shortly back to the SW allowing Bristol Clipper to make Cape Point. It would be realistic to expect her to finish sometime today, Tuesday 19th June. After the cold front passes the next weather system will be a high pressure area over the southern cape giving fair weather but possibly light winds.

The fifth and penultimate leg of The Times Clipper 2000 is one of the most popular for all those who wish to sail around one of the World’s great capes, the Cape of Good Hope. Starting out from the 10 million year old volcanic island of Mauritius, the route for Race 12 of the 16 races which make up The Times Clipper 2000 has seen the eight-strong fleet of identical 60-foot yachts race to the South of Madagascar, then to Agulhas Current (East London area), before racing to Agulhas Point and onto Cape Town, otherwise known as the Tavern of the Seas.

The voyage around the Cape of Good hope off the southern coast of Africa is still considered one of the world’s classic sailing passages although the conditions can be greatly unpredictable, changing within a couple of hours from flat calm to gale force winds. Such vagaries have resulted in several changes amongst the fleet positions on this leg of The Times Clipper 2000, whilst Bristol Clipper seem to have regained their past good form, managing to re-establish their lead position ahead of her seven rivals – namely Glasgow, Jersey, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Plymouth and Portsmouth.

On arrival at Cape Town the 120 crewmembers will be privileged to be hosted by the Royal Cape Yacht Club, one of the world’s most famous yacht clubs. The yachts will be berthed at the yacht club marina in Duncan Dock, and after essential maintenance work crewmembers will enjoy a well-deserved 9-day stopover, exploring the wonders of the 1,000-metre high Table Mountain and sampling the products of the famous wine growing area around Stellenbosch. The boats re-victual with food and stores before crossing the Southern Atlantic to the port of Salvador in Brazil, founded by the Portuguese before the Dutch started building Cape Town.

A mere 16 points currently separate the first 6 yachts in the fleet on the overall leaderboard, proving just how similar the yachts now are in their performance on the water. The crews have all learnt a huge amount since the race start in Portsmouth last October and this is reflected in the ever-changing fortunes of each of the yachts. After a stopover at Salvador where some of the crewmembers will change over, The Times Clipper 2000 returns to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, via New York and Jersey, with an expected arrival date of 21st September 2001.

Overall Points Summary after 11 races

1 Jersey 67

2 Bristol 64.5

3 London 57

4 Plymouth 52

5 Liverpool 51

6 Portsmouth 51

7 Leeds 31

8 Glasgow 25