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26 September 2002, 03:38 pm
Stamm on the Verge of Finishing
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Around Alone
Brixham, Torbay

At 14:30 local time (13:30 UTC) Bernard Stamm was approximately 4 miles from the finish doing 8 knots. The wind is from the north making it a close fetch to the line. His ETA is 15:00 local time (14:00 UTC).
When Bernard Stamm blasts across the finish line at the end of Leg 1 of the Around Alone, it will mark the first time that this event has stopped on European shores. In some ways it's a historic occasion since the Europeans have long dominated the solo sailing scene and having this, the longest running solo circumnavigation race, stop in England will be a little like coming home. For Stamm it will be a lot like coming home. Winning the Around Alone has been a long time dream of his and taking Leg 1 is the first step towards overall victory. This morning when he sailed past Lizard Point on the southwest corner of England setting a new solo transatlantic record, it must have been a sweet reminder of his trip two years ago when he set a new fully-crewed monohull transatlantic record. That time of 8 days, 20 hours and 55 minutes was set under optimal conditions, and to arrive this morning taking only a day and a half longer sailing single-handed is a remarkable achievement.

Stamm's victory will a bitter blow for his arch rival Thierry Dubois on Solidaires. Equally intent upon victory Dubois will have to settle for second this time. He made a desperate charge two days ago and reeled Stamm in closing the distance to within 50 miles, but once the two boats got into the same wind they settled into the same boat speed and Bobst Group - Armor Lux remained in a comfortable lead. He is expected to cross the finish line in Torbay after midnight tonight.

While the leaders are getting the hogs share of attention, there are still a number of amazing races taking place out on the race course. After taking a pounding for the last two days beating into strong headwinds, the conditions have moderated a little allowing the skippers some relief from the constant bashing and wet conditions. A close race for the last podium place has developed between Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali and Patrick de Radigues on Garnier. This morning Garnier led Tiscali by a scant 15 miles. Further back there is another close race taking place between New Zealander Graham Dalton on Hexagon, and British sailor Emma Richards on Pindar. Dalton was still 30 miles ahead of Emma, but Emma was closing quickly. Her position further to the south will allow her a better wind angle for the final run into Torbay. "This is the most exciting part of the race for me," Emma wrote in an email to Race Opps this morning. "I am back in the running and could still pick up a place or two. Add to that I have just had nearly 4 hours of sleep in the last 4 hours!"

In Class 2 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America holds a commanding lead, but the real racing is taking place further back in the fleet. In a close dice for 2nd place Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canadais 7 miles ahead of John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia, and further back in a race for 5th Spirit of yokoh leads BTC Velocityby 7 miles. With these close races within the race taking place, the next few days are sure to be exciting.

Brian Hancock
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