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16 December 2002, 10:20 am
First Night at Sea
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Around Alone - Leg Three
Cape Town (RSA) - Tauranga (NZL)

The Around Alone fleet had a calm first night with light winds - perfect conditions for getting back to sea after a layover on land.
An interesting scenario is opening up already on day one of Leg 3 from Cape Town to Tauranga NZL: Thierry Dubois on Solidaires and Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali have put a lot of easting into their route and maintaining greater boatspeed, while Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group/Armor Lux, Graham Dalton on Hexagon, Emma Richards on Pindar and Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet are plotting a Southerly course in a weaker 10 - 12 knot breeze.

A small area of high pressure lies directly in their path to New Zealand and so the French & Italian skippers are riding over the system, whereas the others are hoping to catch a Westerly flowing low pressure system in the next few hours and then power on downwind.

Current overall leader Stamm is wary of the fact that Dubois & Bianchetti both have Southern Ocean experience where he does not: "They are going well, in more wind than me and they must have seen something that I haven't, and I can't let them get away! Graham is also well placed to my East and he's a danger now, he's much more motivated after two disappointing legs and he's sailing to his home port of Tauranga - this time the competition in the class will be closer than ever."

In Class 2, Canadian skipper John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia, currently positioned in the lead of Class 2 due to his more easterly position in relation to the others, has made a short stop already at the small port of Struisbaai this afternoon to fix his satellite communications. Dennis is not prepared to sail across one of the most hostile regions in the world and chance being out of contact. The other Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield is performing exceptionally well in his Open 40 Spirit of Canada. Not only did he win the start yesterday but he is still up amongst the giant Open 60's, ahead even of Bruce Schwab in Ocean Planet.

Brad van Liew, skipper of Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, has been gaining miles on the 4 boats ahead of him in Class 2 after starting 1hr 45 minutes late yesterday due to mainsail problems. "This is encouraging because I was feeling pretty down and out after my belated departure. It never feels good to be miles behind the competition with thousands of miles to go!" Van Liew also anticipated what lies ahead for all the skippers: "This will be an interesting leg and one that will challenge every skipper in the race. Some of us have ventured and raced in the Southern Ocean before and others will experience it for the first time. It is a place that is beautiful and scary at the same time. The birds are huge. The waves can be like skyscrapers. In some ways it feels as if you are on a different planet - treading carefully and hoping that the sea will want to work with you each day."

Less than 24 hours after the rest of the Around Alone fleet set sail for New Zealand, Tim Kent left the docks in Cape Town a little before 10am local time and headed out to the start area. Kent had remained behind to finish some rigging work on the boat, and to do a final calibration on his autopilots, but this morning with a clear sky above he finally set off on Leg 3. "It feels great to be off," Tim said as he raised his new mainsail and pointed the bow of his boat out to sea. "I have some fantastic new sails on board and now we will really be able to see how Everest Horizontal can perform."

Brian Hancock/ISAF News Editor
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