Leg 5 of Around Alone got underway at 13:00hrs local time (17:00 GMT) and after a long and restful stop over in Salvador, Brazil the nine skippers have finally set sail for Newport, RI some 4,000 miles away.
The weather was warm and muggy with a 15-knot easterly wind blowing and slightly overcast skies kept the temperature from being scorching hot. A large spectator fleet turned out to send the sailors on their way and they were treated to a spectacular sight. The only boat missing from the line-up was Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada, who started his own race at 01:52 GMT this morning, rejoining Leg 4 in a race to complete Leg 4.
It was Bermudian skipper Alan Paris on BTC Velocity who won the start after the gun was fired from the Brazilian minesweeper. He was immediately followed by Emma Richards on Pindar and then Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet right behind. Moments later Thierry Dubois on Solidaires rolled over the top of Ocean Planet to move into third. In a group at the committee boat end Brad Van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group - Armor lux and Kojiro Shiarishi on Spirit of yukoh were all a few seconds late for the start, but sailing at full speed. The fleet headed downwind towards a turning mark four miles away with the leaders vying for first place. At first it was Dubois who steamed into the lead, but Stamm was not to be denied and at the mark it was the all too familiar sight of Bobst Group - Armor lux at the front of the pack. Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet showed blazing speed with his narrow Tom Wylie design and followed Stamm around the mark a mere half boat-length astern. Dubois on Solidaires was third at the mark. Brad Van Liew also found himself at the front of his class and was the first Class 2 boat to round the turning mark. The fleet then sailed close-hauled along the coast to the Farol da Barra lighthouse.
With fireworks marking the occasion, Bernard Stamm sailed through the final gateway of the inshore course with a good 8 boat length lead over Solidaires, but the real story was the blazing hot performance turned in by Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet who was just behind Solidaires as they passed through the gate. Not long after all the Class 1 boats rounded, Brad Van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America rounded the turning mark off the Farol da Barra lighthouse and he too headed out to sea, followed by Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal and Kojiro Shiarishi on Spirit of yukoh.
At the first set of position reports, the top spots are being held by Bobst Group - Armor lux, Solidaires and Pindar in Class 1, and Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, Spirit of yukoh and Everest Horizontal in Class 2. Next stop Newport.