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16 April 2003, 10:19 am
BTC Velocity Hits a Whale
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Around Alone - Leg Five
Salvador (BRA) - Newport (USA)

BTC Velocity slammed smack into a whale yesterday, reminding the skipper that this race is far from over. Fortunately there was no serious damage to the boat, and Alan Paris, after a heartstopping moment, continued.
The skipper, Alan Paris, has a sever pain in his side where he crashed into the navigation station when the boat came to an abrupt, but other than that things seem to be okay on board. Alan described what happened. "Ouch for the whales and ouch for me," he wrote. "BTC Velocity was sailing in light seas and at approximately 7.5 knots of boat speed when we came to a full stop. I was at the Nav station doing the daily noon log entries at the time. As I got up to rush on deck to sea what we had hit the boat was rocked again by a second impact that threw me back onto the Nav station landing full on my back and ribs on my left side.

"Up on deck I looked into the water and it was awash with blood and I clearly sighted 2 whales, one under the boat and one off to the port side. I immediately released the main to slow forward progress and the whale under the boat moved away as we slowly sailed on under headsail only. As we sailed away one of the whales began to follow BTC Velocity and I was concerned it was going to try and ram me in revenge as the other whale was only just moving. After what seemed forever, but probably only a minute or so, I changed course and re sheeted the main to gain distance away from the following whale and it then disappeared.

"Down below I searched all compartments for damage and have found nothing so far. If the opportunity presents itself in the Doldrums, I may jump over the side to give the keel a quick look for damage. I have for the first time opened my First Aid kit and have taken some Ibuprophen pain killers as my left side is hurting quite badly. No ribs broken, but surely they are quite bruised. As was just demonstrated, as if I needed a reminder, this race is not over until BTC Velocity crosses the finish line in Newport."

At the front of Class 2 Brad Van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America is feeling a bit nostalgic. This is his second Around Alone and while never saying never, he feels that this is likely his last time around. "The bitter piece of the equation is that with the final re-start behind me I am beginning to think more about what is next and reflect on the past," he wrote. "I am trying to focus on the task at hand and am forcing myself to do so, but when my mind drifts it does so towards the decisions for the future and the experiences of the past. I suppose this means I have reached a point in life when change is eminent. I doubt I will do another solo race into the Southern Ocean so yesterday felt poignant when my wife Meaghan pointed out that this was likely to be my last re-start of an around the world race. After full time focus for 8 years and two Around Alone campaigns this already feels like a hole in my life. I have dreamed about, looked forward to and dreaded the next Around Alone start for nearly a decade."

For the rest of this leg most of the Around Alone skippers are going to be spending a lot of time reflecting on the race and the future. For sure none of them will return to Newport the same people they were when they left nine months ago. The sea tempers you. It makes you grow in ways you never though possible. It makes you humble. It's going to be interesting to watch and read how these modern day Magellan's make the transition from life on the lip of an ocean wave, to life on land. Stay tuned.
Brian Hancock
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