Today Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Race Chairman of Around Alone - the singlehanded round the world race with stopovers - will announce the finalised dates and stopover ports of this the 20th anniversary of the race (formerly the BOC Challenge).
Around Alone 2002 is to start from Newport, Rhode Island on Sunday 15 September 2002 and for the first time will kick off with a transatlantic leg. The first stopover will be on British shores at Brixham Marina, in Torbay, Devon. Wellington has been confirmed as the New Zealand stopover as Auckland, although the preferred port of call, will be midway through the America's Cup at the time and it would be impossible to berth the 28 registered competitors in the City of Sails at that time.
Around Alone's owner and organiser Clipper Ventures, have been looking at the speed of the boats likely to take part and are anticipating that they will be a good deal quicker than the last event in 1998.
`Technology in the design of these open boats, the advances made to sails and information on routing means boats are faster and average speeds reflect this. We have reduced the overall time of Around Alone by nearly a month," commented Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. "The schedule is challenging, but speeds in recent races have shown it to be perfectly possible and we remain conscious of costs of the fleet in long stopovers and have thus reduced stopover times in each port, whilst still allowing for boat repairs to be carried out in time for the start of the following leg.'
However Knox-Johnston says that the vagaries of weather en route that can affect predicted arrival dates and so the exact start dates of legs 2 and 5 will be reconfirmed, 24 hours after the first boat crosses the finish line of the previous leg.
Leg 1 - Newport, RI to Torbay - start Sunday 15th September 2002
Leg 2 - Torbay to Cape Town - start Sunday 13th October 2002
Leg 3 - Cape Town to Wellington, NZ - start Sunday 1st December 2002
Leg 4 - New Zealand to Salvador, Brazil - start Sunday 26th January 2002
Leg 5 - Salvador to Newport - start Sunday 23rd March 2003
The first boats are expected to complete the round the world race in Newport around 14th April 2003, with the remainder of the fleet finishing by 23rd April 2003.
Finally there is good news - Champagne Mumm have come on board as the event's champagne sponsors. All Clipper Ventures have to do now is to find an overall event sponsor.
Around Alone will have three classes.
Class I: Yachts of an 'open design' with an LOA greater than 50ft (>15.24m) and a maximum LOA of 60ft (18.28m) as per IMOCA rules.
Class II: Yachts of an 'open design' with a minimum LOA of 40ft (12.18m) and a maximum LOA of 50ft (15.24m) as per IMOCA rules.
Venturer class: boats of a 'Production' design or of a 'cruiser racer' type with overall length between 40ft (12.18m) and 60ft (18.28m).
Classes I and II will be run under the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) 2000 class association rules. The Venturer Class will abide by Around Alone stability and safety rules.
Closing date for entries is 31st March 2002.
Scoring for Around Alone will change in 2002. A points system for the race will be introduced for each leg in place of elapsed times. A competitor will also be able to retire or disqualify themselves from a leg without being disqualified from the race. They can still be on the start line for the next leg. That competitor will however not be eligible for the overall prize, but leg prizes only.
Each competitor is required to qualify for the race by completing an authenticated single-handed transoceanic voyage, of not less than 2,000 miles, without anchoring or putting into port, in the yacht entered in the race. The minimum entry age is 21 by 1st September 2002.
Personal routing will not be allowed for Around Alone. Any information that is specially prepared or individualised for a single competitor concerning the weather or routing will be forbidden. Only unmodified GRIB files will be allowed. Non-compliance with this rule will be disqualification from the Around Alone race.
Competitors who receive outside assistance will be disqualified from that leg, but providing all safety checks and rules have been complied with, a competitor may continue in the race, being eligibly only for leg prizes and not overall prizes. That competitor will however be awarded the prize all competitors receive for completing the course.