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10 March 2003, 02:58 pm
Stamm Shows Blistering Pace
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A Brazilian Welcome for Stamm©Mark Pepper/Marinepics

Around Alone - Leg Four

He's done it again. Despite a stop in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands to repair a badly damaged keel, Bernard Stamm has taken line honours in Class 1 arriving in Salvador, Brazil at 09:39:07 local time ( 12:39:07 GMT).
It was another spectacular performance by a skipper who has constantly amazed everyone that has followed this race. It seems as if he unstoppable; even a serious problem with his keel caused by some particularly violent weather at Cape Horn did not take away another stunning victory. If the 48-hour penalty he faces for stopping bothered him, the broad smile on his tired looking face disguised any negative sentiment. He was just a happy man to be first into the steamy seaside town of Salvador.

The leg for Bernard Stamm started in typical fashion. A conservative start followed by a relentless push that only ended once the sails were dropped in Brazil. Two hours after leaving Tauranga Bobst Group Armor lux moved into the lead and Stamm's hold on the top spot was not seriously challenged until Cape Horn. "It was boat-breaking weather," Stamm said in an email. "I felt the boat crash off a big wave and heard a loud noise from the keel and I knew that there was damage." The damage was serious. The lever arm inside the boat that is used to move the keel from side to side had a huge crack in it and was threatening to snap off. A broken arm meant that the keel would be swinging loose under the boat. Fortunately Bernard was able to stabilize the keel and under reduced sail headed for the Falkland Islands. He was just being towed into port when his arch rival Thierry Dubois on Solidaires sailed past to take over the lead for the leg. Thus began a hectic scramble to fashion a repair knowing that the clock was ticking and with every tick Dubois was getting further ahead.

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Bernard Stamm Arrives in Salvador © Mark Pepper/Marinepics

Eighteen hours after arriving in Port Stanley, Bobst Group Armor lux departed and the chase was on. The automatic penalty incurred for stopping was one thing; having Dubois beat him into Salvador was another and Stamm set about grinding down the French skipper with an intensity that was hard to believe. Day after day he closed the gap forcing Dubois to glance frantically over his shoulder and stare longingly at the clouds hoping for a private breeze. In the end it was Bernard who go the private wind and early yesterday morning he slid past Solidaires. This morning he called in to say he was 22 miles from the finish and his ETA, rather than being during the late afternoon as was expected, would be shortly after breakfast.

Heavy squalls passed through the area during the early morning making the last few miles difficult, and wet. Very wet. Finally four miles from the finish the rain stopped and along with it went the wind. With the finish in sight Bobst Group Armor lux sat becalmed. Finally Stamm found a light breeze and that was all that was needed to propel the boat across the line.

This incredible sailor looked as if he had just been out for a day sail, but he had accomplished what he set out to do; take line honors for the leg, and that he did. Ironically the next 48 hours could be some of the most stressful for Bernard. He will be watching the progress of Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali and Emma Richards on Pindar. If they finish outside of 48 hours, Bernard will take second for the leg and will go into the final leg of the race with a 2 point lead over Solidaires. Should Tiscali finish within the 48 hour period it will bump Stamm back into third narrowing the point spread between Bobst Group Armor lux and Solidaires. Of course, if Emma Richards finishes within the 48-hour period it will be the worst possible scenario for Stamm. He will head into the last make or break leg with even points with Dubois. The fist boat into Newport will be the winner.

For now though Bernard is looking forward to a caiparino, a traditional Brazilian drink made from a local rum, lime and sugar. As he pulled into the dock a huge fireworks display went off and the local crowd that had gathered cheered loudly to be heard above the sound of samba music blaring from nearby speakers. Stamm is a true champion, and in typical form he waved to the crowd, bowed, accepted the traditional bottle of champagne and then proceeded to soak the onlookers.

Brian Hancock/ISAF News Editor
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