Clipper Ventures , race organisers, have issued a rescheduled itinerary for the remaining stop-overs in Cape Town (RSA), Tauranga (NZL), Salvador de Bahia (BRA), and Newport, RI (USA).
Notably, the restart of the next leg from Cape Town, South Africa, is rescheduled for 14 December 2002, 6 days on from 8 December start. According to the race rules, the race committee will reconfirm each restart date 24 hours after the first boat has reached port.
Race Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, explained why it became necessary for the dates to be rescheduled: "The unusually extreme storm conditions experienced by the second half of the fleet racing down the West Atlantic coastline forced 7 skippers to forego competition in favour of seamanship. They decided to go into port to avoid risk of serious damage or worse due to storm force winds blowing onto a lee shore and were unable even to exit the harbour safely for 5 whole days. Given that their ETA in Cape Town will now be delayed considerably, we had to review the itinerary, and have made a sporting decision to reshedule the restart in Cape Town for the 14th December. Around Alone is above all about the competitors who take part, and it would be contrary to the ethos of the event if we effectively eliminated half of the fleet from the race now."
Richard Cooper, Managing Director of Clipper Ventures plc, commented on the effect of this decision on the event management side. "We do recognise that this will cause inconvenience to those involved on the shore side of the event who have made plans. However, everybody understands the rationale behind this move, and that ultimately, the weather is the final arbiter in all yacht racing events."
Such is the cameraderie between the competitors themselves, even the leading Open 60 skippers voiced that they preferred to have the smaller boats on the start line with them and all head into the Southern Ocean together. Leader of Class 2, Brad Van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, responded: "I could have made the original start date, but it would be selfish not to want the rest of your class to be there too, even if it is to my advantage. The spirit of this race is that we all help each other, even the guys at the back. This decision is good also for the competitors and their safety."
Tim Kent, skipper of Open 50 Everest Horizontal, was relieved at a decision, which was make or break for him: "I thank the organisers, now I will be able to prepare the boat properly for the Southern Ocean."
Moreover, this will give Simone Bianchetti, whose dismasted Open 60 Tiscali is undergoing an emergency refit of a replacement rig, more time to reach Cape Town and start the next leg. Class 1 leader Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group-Armor Lux, who has lent his spare mast to Tiscali, concluded: "It's much better to have more competition in the race."
Therefore, the restart in Tauranga, New Zealand is now planned for the 2nd February 2003, one week on from the original date on the 26th February. The local organisations in Tauranga & Salvador both welcomed the move and saw no problem for the restart in their respective ports to be delayed by one week.
The itinerary for Around Alone 2002-03 is now planned as follows:
Leg 3: CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND
Restart: 14 December 2002
ETA first boat: 11 January 2003
Leg 4: TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND - SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL
Restart: 2 February 2003
ETA first boat: 2 March 2003
Leg 5: SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL - NEWPORT, RI USA
Restart: 30 March 2003
ETA first boat: 20 April 2003