In a race as long as the Around Alone, you never expect to see your competition except during the time spent at each stopover.
The ocean is vast and the course options numerous, so it's unlikely that one of your competitors will going the same way as you.
Try telling that to Alan Paris on BTC Velocity and Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada. Since leaving Spain two days ago, the two yachts have been crossing tacks as they sail down the Portuguese coast. This morning a scant two miles separated them. Derek Hatfield sent a short email:"Alan Paris and I have been sharing the same water for a day now and he is currently about two miles behind,"
On board BTC Velocity, Paris summed up the race this way: "Yesterday was not easy. It has been almost 48 hours of beating down the coast in squally conditions. Derek Hatfield and I crossed tacks twice yesterday within 300 yards of each other as we both played the shifts in our attempts to get south. We both concurred that it was tough going in lumpy seas. Today will be very tactical as we negotiate a high pressure that sits between where we are, and the trade winds off Morocco. There is no way around this high, but straight through it."
High he was referring to is a persistent ridge of high pressure that has parked itself between the Class 2 fleet, and the Canary Islands. High pressure weather is great for going to the beach, but not good for sailing as it's associated with light and variable winds.
While the competitors do not expect to see each other while at sea, they do communicate via email. Modern electronics like email and satellite phones have made the world a much smaller place. Yesterday Emma Richards was mentioning seeing flying fish, and a few hours later she received numerous recipe ideas for cooking them. Her email started with the following sentence: "Thanks for all the flying fish recipes yesterday. Shame I don't have any onions, limes, fresh herbs, etc."
John Dennis, who Emma affectionately refers to as Pops, sailing on Bayer Ascensia was longing for fresh fish. am looking forward to several days of flying fish for breakfast as I head south. They are delicious fried in a little oil and lemon juice. Very easy to clean and worth the exercise,"
The onboard email system is not only used to trade recipes. It is also used to poke fun at each other. Thierry Dubois on Solidaires sent a short email to Emma Richards on Pindar. Dubois has recently overtaken the British sailor and Thierry in his email wrote that he could ell YOUNG BLOND ENGLISH GIRL in the area."
Emma replied that it was a lot better than being downwind of a Frenchman!
There is a deep bond forming between the sailors. It will strengthen as the race progresses. This bond is what the Around Alone is all about. When the sailors first meet prior to the start, they are drawn together by the same driving ambition; to sail around the world alone. As the race progresses the real personalities of each sailor becomes more evident and the friendships grow. As Brad van Liew, skipper of Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America told me yesterday. e stop in Spain was painful, but it was a real good opportunity for all of the Class 2 skippers to really get to know each other away from the race officials and away from family,"
He said. "They are the most wonderful bunch of guys and we now have a firm bond that will last not only for the race, but forever."
Positions at 0600 hrs, 25/10/2002
||Bobst Group-Armor Lux
||Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America
||Spirit of yukoh
||Spirit of Canada