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27 February 2003, 10:01 am
Richards Rounds the Horn
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The Infamous Cape© Brian Hancock

Around Alone - Leg 4
Tauranga (NZL) - Salvador (BRA)

At 19:14 UTC yesterday Emma Richards rounded Cape Horn aboard Pindar. Earlier in the day Bruce Schwab rounded on Ocean Planet.

At 17.00 UTC Bobst Group Armor Lux started racing again exactly 22 hours after arriving at Port Stanley. There was 25 knots of wind and Bernard is back in attack mode. "The guys here have worked tirelessly without a break. I have to hand it to them. Now it's only by getting back out there will I see if the repair holds." At the last poll Bobst Group Armor lux was 225 miles behind Solidaires.

Both Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali and Graham Dalton on Hexagon rounded Cape Horn yesterday within two hours of each other. The wind was blowing around 30 knots with good visibility. Hexagon was the first to round at 18:00 GMT. An observer at Cape Horn (aboard a Russian survey vessel) sent a short email to say that he had Hexagon in sight and could see that the boat was sailing under headsail alone. He said he could see the broken boom on deck. Dalton was in communication with his shore team making plans to rendezvous later in the evening to fix his broken boom. Earlier he sent an email describing a huge knockdown a few miles west of Cape Horn. "A huge breaking wave hit Hexagon broadside and rolled her over," he wrote. "We did not roll all the way over, but it seemed like we were turned upside down before Hexagon swung back upright again. Everything stowed in the cabin leapt up into the air and hurtled across the small space to land in a mess somewhere else." The knockdown created a mess below, but it was nothing compared to what awaited the skipper when he went on deck. "The carnage on deck was worse than that below. The force of the water had picked up the broken boom and carried it down the deck, smashing it into one of Hexagon's twin wheels. The wheel was broken and the damage was stopping the wheel from moving, thus prohibiting the autopilot from working. I had to work hard in the dark and cold to get the boom out of the wheel and get the autopilot working again." Fortunately he was able to sort things out and carried on to round the Horn and rendezvous with his shore team. The race management team do not have precise details of where Hexagon plans to stop. It's largely dependent upon the wind since without a mainsail Hexagon cannot sail upwind, and a rope is caught around the propeller from the knockdown.

Shortly after Hexagon rounded the infamous rock, Simone Bianchetti followed on Tiscali. The weather had also been brutal for the Italian sailor, but he managed to get around the corner unscathed. "I passed Cape Horn at 20:30 UTC about one to two miles from the rock in strong 30 knot winds," he wrote. "Passing so close was good as there were no big waves inshore so I was going at good speed. Rounding Cape Horn was emotional for two reasons: the stories of how many boats have tried to round the Horn and the number of people who have died here make it a very significant moment. Also it is the door to the Atlantic and a sign to say you have done a good job as a sailor to have brought your boat through in good condition and safely. I have nothing broken on my boat still. This makes me very happy."

While Dalton stops to fix his boom, Bianchetti is already streaking up the Atlantic. He passed through the Straits of Le Maire and has been enjoying strong winds from the northwest. He plans to leave the Falkland Islands to starboard unlike Thierry Dubois on Solidaires who was forced to leave the islands to port.

Brian Hancock/ISAF Secretariat
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