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25 March 2003, 10:33 am
Paris Makes Slow Progress
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Around Alone - Leg Four
Tauranga (NZL) - San Salvador (BRA)

Alan Paris is still soldiering on towards Salvador. Light headwinds and fickle sailing conditions are conspiring to keep BTC Velocity's progress slow, but the conditions are no match for the dogged determination of the skipper.
With his jury-rigged mast still holding up well, Alan is sailing as hard and as fast as he can, his sense of humour, as always, intact. "And then there was one, and one on holiday in Ushuaia," he wrote referring to himself and Derek Hatfield who remains in southern Chile fixing his boat. When the rest of the fleet has finished and you are still out there racing, the aloneness of a solo circumnavigation really hits home.

Fortunately Alan does not have time to dwell on his circumstances. Squalls, lightning and ships during the early morning hours made for an interesting, if harrowing few hours. "Thunder, lightening and 35 knot winds gave my jury rig a real test," he wrote. "And then appearing out of the mist and showers, a freighter less than a quarter of a mile away. No way he saw me until the last minute. Next rain squall and I see another freighter bearing down on my position about two miles away. Then we both disappear into the squall. Visibility less than a quarter of a mile and we do not see each other again. These are the first two ships I have seen since New Zealand and they were both near misses."

Before the wind went light heavy squalls made life on board miserable. "It has been one squall after another for 36 hours, non-stop, no breaks," he wrote., "Fifty degree wind shifts and winds from 5 knots to 28 knots. The latest and what looks like the clearing front has had fork lightening that was all around the boat. Nothing to frazzle your hair kind of lightning, as has happened before, but too close for comfort on a boat that freely admits to relying on its electronic toys !!" The good news is that the squalls brought drenching rain and Alan was able to fill up his water tanks beyond what's necessary for the rest of the passage to Salvador. "I will have a shower every day at sunset. What a luxury," he wrote.

While Alan sails north, life on land continues in a daily routine as the skippers and shore teams slave away in the heat. Fortunately, other than Bobst Group Armor lux, the boats are in pretty good shape. "I could leave now if the race started today," Thierry Dubois said looking relaxed and happy after a weeks vacation. Even Everest Horizontal, usually a hot bed of frantic activity during the stopovers is getting the job done at a more staid pace. And when the day is done there is plenty of time for a caipirinha on the deck overlooking the marina. Twenty days to go until the restart. There is still plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying the hospitality of this sultry city.
Brian Hancock
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