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14 December 2002, 03:28 pm
Cloudy Start as the Fleet Head for New Zealand
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Restart from Cape Town©Roy Riley

Around Alone - Leg Three
Cape Town

A heavy cloud hung low over Table Mountain as the start gun fired to signal the beginning of Leg 3, and the Around Alone yachts sheeted their sails and set off for the Southern Ocean.
First across the line was Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada, but he was soon overtaken by Emma Richards on Pindar, Thierry Dubois on Solidaires and Graham Dalton on Hexagon. The giant Open 60's looked like space ships as they rolled the smaller Open 40, but it was a sweet moment for Hatfield who has been the first to cross the start line for each of the starts. John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia, and Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali were early for the start, and both yachts had to return to restart.

The boats sailed close hauled along the coast in a brisk 15-20 northwesterly wind. Most of the skippers had a single reef in the mainsail and small headsails and the boats were sailing well over twelve knots ploughing through the chop caused by the spectator boats. Thierry Dubois looked to have the best boat speed and he passed Pindar and opened up a small lead on the fleet, but he was soon being reeled in by Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group Armor lux who appeared from nowhere. It seems that Stamm had opted for a conservative start knowing that there were plenty of miles ahead to make up the distance. An hour into the race Stamm he had passed Dubois and was once again in the lead, his Pierre Roland design reveling in the conditions.

All of the yachts opted to keep well offshore, and as they sailed into the haze it was Bobst Group/Armor lux leading Solidaires with Hexagon and Ocean Planet close behind. Emma Richards had started with two reefs in her mainsail and was a bit slow, but once she threw the reefs out the boat picked up speed and Richards was slowly gaining on the leaders. Only Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali was struggling to keep up. After returning to restart, Bianchetti got caught close inshore and had to tack to clear a headland. The tack put the boat in a different wind pattern and Tiscali dropped back, but despite this Simone looked relaxed and seemingly unfazed to be back at sea after only 4 days in port.

In Class 2 Hatfield had a comfortable lead over second place BTC Velocity with Kojiro Shiraishi and John Dennis bringing up the rear. Brad van Liew was late starting due to some mainsail problems; it seems that the sailmaker sewed the leechline on his mainsail by mistake, and van Liew was not able to make adjustments to the back edge of the sail. Within minutes after the start the sailmakers were on board frantically hand sewing the sails, and at 1400 local time van Liew hoisted the mainsail and Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America was back in the race. Only Everest Horizontal remained at the dock. Tim Kent estimates that he will be away before nightfall this evening. "It's coming together," Kent said. "Won't be long now."

Brian Hancock/ISAF News Editor
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