Hatfield delayed

As Around Alone's final leg starts this weekend

Tuesday April 8th 2003, Author: Mary Ambler, Location: Transoceanic
Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield on Open 40 Spirit of Canada notified the Around Alone race organisation that he had left the dockside in Ushuaia, Argentina with new mast, sails and electronics at 10:30am local time on Monday 7 April in Ushuaia. He was expecting to resume racing early today from the spot of his near-fatal dismasting exactly one month ago on 7th March.

However, Derek Hatfield has experienced problems after getting caught in an unforecast storm at the mouth of the Beagle Channel late yesterday, which is passing over the area of his dismasting between the channel and Cape Horn with winds reaching 60 knots. This storm is expected to abate by Thursday this week. Therefore Hatfield has taken a prudent decision not to resume racing: “The most important thing right now after all that has happened in the last month is to finish the race, and so it would be unwise to sail out from land into the teeth of this storm without sufficient sea room.” Hatfield has decided that it is better for him to make port again in order to sit out the storm, and is currently heading to Port Williams. He intends to set out again on Thursday.

Derek Hatfield had five riggers and one electrician plus his one shore crew working flat out to get the boat ready after the mast arrived in Ushuaia late last Wednesday night. Hatfield tells the story: “The Spirit of Canada Team tuned the rig, put on the new sails and made all the final adjustments to the instruments, computers and communications equipment. The three members of the sailmaking team that arrived Tuesday, left at noon on Sunday heading for Toronto. We've taken Spirit of Canada sailing three times to test the rig, the sails and the keel. All are in great working order. A big thanks to all of those whom have made this all possible.”

Race rules require Hatfield to return to the exact spot where he turned his engine on after capsizing before he can turn the bows north once more and resume the leg to Salvador, which is roughly a 50 mile journey from Ushuaia. The Around Alone race committee granted Hatfield dispensation from the rule regarding arrival in port 5 days before the scheduled restart of the next leg, subject to Spirit of Canada's compliance with regard to returning to the position at which the motor was started and making a stop of not less than 48 hours in Salvador before starting Leg 5. Spirit of Canada's start time for Leg 5, from Salvador to Newport RI, will be the official start time of the race at 13:00hrs local time on 13 April 2003. In granting this dispensation, Spirit of Canada will receive a 24 hr penalty to be applied to the elapsed time for Leg 5, for late arrival into Salvador.

Meanwhile, in port the countdown to the fifth and last leg of Around Alone has begun. With five days to go to the restart at 13:00hrs local time on Sunday 13th April, all the skippers are back in Salvador and are taking their boats for final sail tests out in the Bay of All Saints. Thierry Dubois took out Solidaires yesterday to show off his spinnaker for Amnesty International with the new patchwork design of Brazilian children’s art painted on the sail.

One skipper with an unusual engagement however is American Class 2 leader, Brad Van Liew. He is to be the guest of honour at a festive Brazilian party in Rio de Janeiro tonight to celebrate his own dominant performance in the race and four-in-a-row victories. The Copacabana Palace has been transformed into an elegant nautical set with Brazilian models showcasing the Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America line of clothing and Gabriela Bundschen, Brazilian model and sister to the famous model Giselle, as hostess. Van Liew will also visit the Rio Boat Show, Latin America's largest boat show.

The Around Alone Leg 5 restart will be given at 13:00hrs local time on Sunday 13th April. The start line is off the end of the breakwater from the CENAB to a green channel marker, from where the fleet will complete an inshore course in the Bay of All Saints up to ‘Liverpool Buoy’ off the Point da Mont Serrat, and then back down past the CENAB, before rounding the last marker off the Lighthouse at Barra and heading out into the South Atlantic Ocean. The ETA for the first boat into Newport is around the 5th May, 2003.

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