The gentleman of the race has arrived. At 05:49:09 local time this morning Alan Paris sailed BTC Velocity across the finish line to complete Leg 3 of the Around Alone.
It was a spectacular arrival to cap a fast and fun trip from Tasmania where Paris was forced to stop a week ago to repair his rigging. Of all the skippers Alan had the best transit of the Tasman, and one of the best sails down the New Zealand coast. His arrival completes Leg 3; all of the competitors are safely in port and the race organizers can rest easy. The restart for Leg 4 is looming ever larger with only 11 days to go.
Alan's trip from South Africa was a long one on top of an already lengthy passage from England to Cape Town. In fact, since the race started in New York Alan has been at sea for 134 days and spent only 12 days on dry land. All of that was soon forgotten as the lights of Tauranga lit the way into the harbor and Alan could finally relax and greet his family. The boat looked to be in perfect condition, but Paris spoke of a potential problem. "Shortly after leaving Tasmania we hit something,"
he said. "It was not a hard bang, but a solid one and one that may have damaged my keel. There is some damage inside the boat so I am anxious to see what the bottom looks like."
While Alan headed off for a large breakfast at the local truck stop, his shore helpers were preparing the boat to be hauled. In a few hours all will be revealed and we hope that the news is good.
It is always a difficult passage for the skippers of the smaller boats. They weather more gales, they live in cramped quarters, and they spend a lot less time in port recovering from the leg. It's almost like a non-stop passage around the world. Class 1 leader Bernard Stamm was on the dock to greet Paris this morning when he arrived and shook his head in amazement when told how many days Alan had been at sea. "It's very difficult for him,"
Stamm said.I>"A long time at sea. More bad weather to deal with than for me."
Alan, his wife Becky, and son Tucker plan a few days off. It will be the first chance they have had to get away from the boat and the pressures of running a campaign. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, this young family will surely be enjoying each others company. And then it will be back to the grind and slog of preparing the boat for Leg 4.