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20 September 2002, 10:10 am
100 Hours At Sea
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Around Alone
New York (USA)-Torbay (GBR)

It has been four days since the spectacular sendoff in New York harbour and the Around Alone fleet of 13 Open class yachts is now well out in the Atlantic sailing south of Newfoundland.

It has been a wet and windy trip for all the boats with some sailors reporting squalls bringing 40 knots of wind and drenching rain. American sailor Bruce Schwab summed the conditions up with a single word. Yuk!

From the outset Bernard Stamm (SUI) seemed determined to set a fast pace and rocketed out of New York harbour aboard his Pierre Rolland designed yacht, Bobst Group - Armor Lux. Stamm, holder of the monohull transatlantic record and clearly knows his boat and this ocean. He has led from the outset, fending off charges first from New Zealander Graham Dalton on Hexagon, and more recently from Thierry Dubois on Solidaires. His communications with race HQ have been cryptic; it's obvious that he is putting his full effort into sailing the boat and he is happy to be pushing out maximum performance from his new rig and sails on every angle of sailing.

While Stamm places a loose cover on the rest of the fleet, there have been many changes behind him. Dalton displayed terrific boat speed for the first 24 hours, but got caught in a vicious squall that broke his mainsail halyard and damaged his boat. "The first thing I knew about the problem was when the mainsail fell down," he reported in a phone call to Race Headquarters. He has since been limping along and dropped back into 6th position. Emma Richards has also been sailing compromised on Pindar. She sent a harrowing account of dropping her gennaker in a squall south of Nantucket Island and as a result has had to do without that very important sail. Her speed has suffered accordingly. She was only able to reset the sail Thursday morning, but then she had other problems. "My computer keeps crashing each time I launch off a big wave. It took me an hour between crashes to pick up my email", she wrote.

One of the pre-race favorites, Italian Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali had a lackluster start and was trailing the leaders. He sent a short email saying that he had been suffering from the flu and was not feeling good. The clean sea air must have blown the bug out to sea because this morning Bianchetti called in to say that he was feeling 100% and looking forward to seeing some pretty English girls when he gets to Torbay. He had also rocketed up into 3rd place.

In Class 2 there have also been some ups and downs. The most consistently inconsistent performance has been by Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal. The self proclaimed amateur sailor has been experiencing autopilot problems and they have forced him to reduce sail to work on the situation. "My autopilots have been acting like temperamental teenagers," he wrote. "We have been wandering all over the ocean scaring the living daylights out of me." Kent was not far off Class 2 leader Brad van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America when his problems started, but he has since dropped back. Meanwhile from on board Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America the sole race veteran reports a conservative start to the race. "It was a bit of a dreary night for my first offshore evening alone with rain and lightning, however daybreak and a cup of coffee makes it all seem much nicer." Van Liew might need more than a few cups of coffee to stay ahead of Canadian sailor Derek Hatfield who has turned in a remarkable performance by staying close to the front of his class despite sailing a 40 footer. "Spirit of Canada has just been planing along at 10-12 knots,"reported. "The boat is sailing itself."

The rains have passed and the wind has died down leaving the sailors to enjoy calm, sunny conditions. It's perfect beach weather, however for a bunch of competitive sailors the calm seas will provide their own frustrations as they try to eke that extra tenth of a knot from their boats. The first boat to break free from the high pressure will gain the advantage. Will it be Stamm, Dubois or one of the smaller boats.

Positions as at 2130 UTC 19/09/2002

Class 1: Open 60

Boat Name Lat Long Speed DTF
Bobst Group Armor-Lux 44 28.960 N 47 40.760 W 15.74 kt 1821.37 nm
Solidaires 43 26.360 N 48 38.280 W 11.81 kt 1886.36 nm
Garnier 44 38.840 N 51 13.720 W 14.27 kt 1953.78 nm
Tiscali 44 01.160 N 51 19.320 W 11.92 kt 1974.10 nm
Hexagon 43 30.360 N 51 44.120 W 11.45 kt 2004.12 nm
Ocean Planet 43 19.120 N 51 37.520 W 10.37 kt 2005.12 nm
Pindar 42 06.320 N 52 41.160 W 10.81 kt 2081.19 nm

Class 2: Open 50/40

Boat Name Lat Long Speed DTF
Tommy Hilfiger 42 27.960 N 54 03.360 W 11.75 kt 2123.40 nm
Everest Horizontal 39 07.400 N 54 54.520 W 7.50 kt 2271.01 nm
Spirit of Canada 42 34.760 N 57 58.920 W 7.50 kt 2271.01 nm
Bayer Ascensia 42 53.960 N 59 05.280 W 7.30 kt 2303.82 nm
BTC Velocity 41 39.240 N 58 22.600 W 6.43 kt 2314.26 nm

Mary Ambler/ISAF News Editor
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