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18 September 2002, 11:27 am
Leg 1 - New York (USA) - Torbay (GBR)
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Spirit of Canada© Joyce Black

Around Alone

Yesterday saw a day of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer as the Around Alone fleet heads further east towards Torbay.
When the boats started from New York on Sunday a cold front passed over them shortly after they exited New York harbor, and they have ridden that front out into the Atlantic. It has brought torrential rain, gusty winds and powerful squalls to all the yachts making life on board particularly difficult.

Emma Richards on Pindar summed up the day in a hastily written email. "I have not slept since New York. Last night there were fishing boats and ships all around, and today/tonight there have been a number of squalls. In fact there have been so many of them that you can't switch on the radar alarm to warn for ships as they have been blacked out by so many nasty squalls that the alarm would never stop."

Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet was more to the point. "Greetings from the soggy Atlantic. It has been raining all day," he wrote, and then added a single word that summed up the situation. "Yuk!"

Further back in the fleet Brad van Liew was echoing Schwab's sentiments. "Frustration seems to be the order of the day," he wrote. "I have been diligent about keeping the boat speed up with the intention of trying to catch the southwesterly push that the class 1 boats have enjoyed, but unfortunately I have been overtaken by the front and have now run out of wind."

The leading boats, Bobst Group Armor Lux, Hexagon and Solidaires have managed to keep the wind longer, but by Tuesday evening they too had run out of breeze.

Race leader Bernard Stamm lamented the situation. "I am just below Nova Scotia," he wrote, "and I am heading north, the further the better. The guys to the south will be having more wind than me right now but I'm climbing up to find more breeze."

Stamm was right about the wind to the south. While he made a push north in search of a stronger air flow, arch rival Thierry Dubois on Solidaires sailing to the south took the lead and at the last poll was nine miles ahead of the frustrated Swiss sailor.

The weather looks like it will provide no relief for the next few days. An area of high pressure has settled over the race course and brought ideal beach conditions to the eastern United States. The sailors will be experiencing the same conditions, but instead of laying back in a comfortable chair reading a book, they will be trying to eek out that last tenth of a knot of boat speed. At least the conditions will give all the racers an opportunity to dry the boat out and cook a good meal. And perhaps Emma Richards will get some needed rest.
Brian Hancock/ISAF Secretariat
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