After 2500 miles of hard ocean racing it has become a horse race to the finish between Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm sailing Bobst Group Armor Lux, and Frenchman Thierry Dubois on Solidaires.
In a frantic effort to reel in Stamm, Dubois has been pushing his yacht to its limit and in doing so has set a new 24 hour distance record for the Around Alone. Between 1500 UTC Sunday and 1500 UTC Monday Dubois sailed an incredible 400.7 miles averaging 16.69 knots for the period. He has ridden the edge of a small low pressure that appeared seemingly for his own private benefit while Stamm could only look over his shoulder in amazement and disbelief. "Thierry has been spicing things up and that's something I could do without,"
Stamm told race officials. "He has a better wind angle and more wind than me for now, but I will get the wind soon and then we'll see."
While Dubois has set a blistering pace that adds 5 miles to the previous record set four years ago by Giovanni Soldini, he is still quite a bit short of the 24 hour monohull speed record held by illbruck and set on Leg 7 of the recent Volvo Ocean Race. Until the VOR, the 24-hour record was held, ironically, by Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group Armor Lux. Most of the skippers that checked in today were impressed by Dubois's speed, but all cautioned that the race was still in it's infancy. Once these sailor get to know their boats better and once they get into the big surfs down south, it's expected that more records will topple.
While Stamm and Dubois hammer it out at the front of the pack, there is another close race for 3rd taking place between Hexagon (Graham Dalton), Garnier (Patrick de Radigues) and Tiscali (Simone Bianchetti). There is a mere 12 miles separating the three boats with each skipper eager for a podium finish. Earlier today Patrick de Radigues on Garnier called in to say that he could see Hexagon and was pushing hard to overtake the New Zealand yacht. "I have been sailing this boat as hard as it will go for the last 48 hours and we are hanging close to the leaders,"
said de Radigues.
Further back in Class 2 Brad van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America is still hanging on to his commanding lead after falling a mile short of breaking the 24 hour speed record for the 50 foot class. Behind him John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia and Spirit of Canada are also locked in a close race. The next few days will be interesting as the fleet approaches the British Isles. Typical autumn weather has arrived in England and strong southeasterly winds have been blowing for here for the last few days. Once the leaders encounter these conditions a new game will begin and they can expect to have to sail hard on the wind to the finish. Stamm and Dubois have an ETA of Thursday morning.