A TRIO of round the world Wye Valley sailors are battling freezing Circumpolar winds and stormy seas as they head through the Roaring 40s from South Africa to western Australia.

And two weeks into the 5,500 nautical mile leg, Monmouth Rowing Club member Eric Froggatt and his crewmates on Ha Long Bay had stolen a march on the rest of the 11-boat Clipper fleet earlier this week.

Starting the leg in last place, they pushed towards the front of the fleet five days in, and a week on had wrestled a slight lead from Dare To Lead, covering 272nm in one day.

But for Old Monmothian Angus Whitehead and his Punta del Este crew mates, it’s been a case of catch up for most of the leg after losing the mast tracking.

Angus, the youngest professional sailor in the race at just 20, revealed last week: “Over the last few days, we have been battling our mast track coming off, this is what holds the luff, the front edge, into the mast and stops the sail looking more like a bow than a wing.

“As this was broken, we were stuck in reef three, our smallest amount of mainsail we can put up.

“This was fantastic for about 12 hours when it was blowing six knots, however, not so much for the rest of it.”

At the mercy of the huge ocean swells, he said they had to come up with a fix, and they finally managed to “drill new holes through the track and into the mast” allowing them to tap the hole and create a thread inside to which screwed in a pre-made thread.

“A bolt was then screwed in and made tight to fix the track to the mast. We repeated this six times taking a total of five hours which is absolutely awesome,” he added. “I couldn’t be prouder of how the team reacted over the days of not racing, they have been absolute stars!”

And he added that while they have ground to make up in the 20-plus day leg, “the hunt is on”.

Meanwhile, former Metropolotan Police officer David Hartshorn from Chepstow, skipper of Bekezela, has positioned his boat in the middle of the pack after a tricky mainsail repair, with some 1,500 miles still to race.

The race organisers posted at the weekend: “It’s two weeks since the fleet left Cape Town and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam continues its impressive turnaround, extending the lead even more in this race to the land down under.

Follow the fleet at www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings