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17 April 2003, 11:39 am
Setting A Scorching Pace
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Brad van Liew trys to keep cool ® van Liew

Around Alone - Leg Five
Salvador (BRA) - Newport (USA)

Bobst Group Armor lux and Tiscali are locked in a tight battle for first place in Class 1 as Bernard Stamm and Simone Bianchetti duke it out for the top spot

The two boats were diverging as Bianchetti sailed a course directly for Newport while Stamm took one more to the west, but Bernard has since gybed back and is now directly between his closest competitor and the finish. He is using tactics familiar to those racers that sail inshore courses. Both boats have cleared the coast of Brazil and are a day away from crossing the equator. While they continue to streak towards the finish consistently averaging over 10 knots, the rest of the Class 1 boats are struggling to make it out of single digits.

At the front of Class 2 Brad Van Liew is turning in another stellar performance and is nipping at the heels of his friends in Class 1. Life on board the dark hulled Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America is becoming unbearably hot, especially down below, and Brad is doing his best to keep cool. Another week of scorching temperature are in store for Van Liew as he crosses first the equator and then the doldrums, after which he will be able to enjoy the northeast trade winds. "I don't want to attract the interest of King Neptune so I will tread lightly when complaining about the current sailing conditions," he wrote in his daily log. "Currently the boat is moving along at 6 knots in a good direction and it is blistering hot on board. The reason for caution is that we have had beautiful weather since leaving Salvador and I don't want to induce either heavy winds and squall activity or a no wind park-up. The biggest problem is that it is sweltering and progress is nothing special at the moment."

Forty miles behind Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal is also making the best of the light conditions. "The sailing right now is...uneventful," he wrote. "That's putting it mildly. A brief, toothless squall is all that has interrupted our somewhat stately progression up the coast. The seas are flat, the wind is light, and the boat is moving along nicely. It needs little input from the skipper. One can only tweak so much." The wind is from behind and Tim, like the rest of the skippers is spending his time trying to stay cool in the intense tropical heat. Fortunately Everest Horizontal has a "verandah" where Tim can sit in the shade of his dog house. "I don't understand why all these boats don't have a nice comfortable area out of the wind, waves and sun," Tim has said many times. Only Everest Horizontal has such a large dog house. Boats like Pindar and Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America have no such place to sit and Emma and Brad are either below in the stifling heat or on deck in the blazing sun.

Before leaving Salvador Bernard Stamm predicted that he would be arriving in Newport around May 1. He has set a cracking pace and if the doldrums do not slow him down he looks set show up in New England on or ahead of schedule. There is a long way to go yet and anything can happen. First he has to fight off the challenge from Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali, then cross the doldrums before transiting the Caribbean Sea and the east coast of the United States.

Brian Hancock
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