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20 March 2003, 09:56 am
Frustration in the Final Miles
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Kojiro Shiraishi (JPN) on Spirit of yukoh

Around Alone - Leg 4
Round the World

At 06:00 local time (09.00 GMT) this morning Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet was 5 miles form the finish sailling in heavy squalls. His ETA is before 07:00.

The frustration on board the remaining Around Alone boats sailing towards Salvador is palpable. The wind gods are playing tricks on them as they slowly tick off the miles towards the finish. The only skipper that seems to have broken free of the torture zone is Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet who has spent most of the day sailing directly for the finish line at 10 knots. If he is able to keep up the pace during the night we can expect to see the slim hull of Ocean Planet slice through the thick air here before daybreak tomorrow. Clearly life on board has been better than on the other boats, and the mood is decidedly more buoyant. Bruce spent last evening flipping through images of the boat being built and it put him in a nostalgic mood. "I went out and hung out on deck leaning on the runner for a long while, watching the boat slide along effortlessly under a well lit full moon," he wrote. "I could look down at the deck under my feet and see her when she was in the shop at Schooner Creek Boat Works taking shape in many stages. What a time that was! And now here we are sailing on a beautiful night, anticipating landfall and another exciting new country. Yep, good times indeed."

Contrast that against a short email sent from on board Everest Horizontal. "I am going 2.9 knots in-between towering squall clouds - again," wrote Tim Kent. "I cannot believe the weather out here. It is the lousiest weather for sailing I have experienced in thirty years. There is literally no wind at all most of the time. But there are some awfully nice waves that come along and bounce out whatever wind is in the sails." If Tim sounds frustrated, it's because he is. A few days ago he was less than a dozen miles behind Ocean Planet, but Schwab managed to find a private breeze and while Bruce is anticipating a sit-down breakfast at a nice restaurant, Tim will be eating dry muesli out of a cup. It's the last miles that are always the toughest.

The two forty-footers in the race are also making slow progress. Kojiro Shiraishi on board Spirit of yukoh was also finding the sailing painful. "AHHHH!!!......I have no wind," he wrote. "If it was just the lack of wind I'd be fine, but it's not. Random squalls appear and the direction and strength of each squall is like a lottery. North, South, East and West the wind is coming from all directions with various strengths. We have no single hour like the previous one and sleep is impossible. Just as I think I can get a nap the wind is off changing again." Not to put too finer point on it he ended with, "This is wind torture."

Alan's Paris's run up on his fellow competitors has also come to an abrupt halt. For the last few days Alan has been slowly narrowing the gap between BTC Velocity and Spirit of yukoh, but no more. "Now its my turn," he wrote. "After a slow progression off less favorable conditions from following winds to reaching winds to head winds and now I have 5 knots of wind or less from multiple directions. Seas are relatively calm so fortunately any forward motion is not stopped by pounding into waves. I have the full sail plan up for the first time since effecting the jury rig and all appears stable."

Meanwhile in Salvador Bobst Group Armor lux was hauled out of the water and the mast and keel removed. "It's a big job," JC Caso, shore crew for the boat said after looking at the keel. "First we have to remove the plates that Bernard installed in the Falkland Islands and then we will have a better idea of the job we have to do." Work also continues on the other boats. Sails have been removed and either sent to the sailmaker or repaired on the dock, while the never ending work lists grow and shrink with regularity.

Distance to finish as at 06.00
Class 1

Ocean Planet - 20.1nm

Class 2
Everest Horizontal - 313.7nm
Spirit of yukoh - 466.8nm
BTC Velocity - 1017.7nm
Spirit of Canada - 2907nm

Brian Hancock/ISAF Secretariat
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