Races within a race

The latest from the Around Alone, plus fresh disaster for Graham Dalton

Wednesday March 5th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Image courtesy of Voyager2020

Yacht Name
24h Run
Bobst Group-Armor Lux
Ocean Planet
Class 2
Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America
Everest Horizontal
Spirit of yukoh
BTC Velocity
Spirit of Canada

With 1,000 miles left to go to the finish, it is looking increasingly likely this may be the first occasion that Bernard Stamm doesn't take the top spot on a leg of Around Alone. For stopping in the Falklands to repair his keel he incurs a 48 hour penalty and it looks unlikely that he will finish two days ahead of Thierry Dubois, although a first to finish on the water battle is in full swing between the two boats.

Emma Richards on Pindar meanwhile is also in contention with Italian Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali with just 22 miles separating the two boats.

What seems certain is that the leading skippers are going to find it hard not to be becalmed and we can look forward to a concertinaing of the fleet, putting further stress on the two front runners.

Graham Dalton on his latest disaster...

..the towline broke, and before I could react, it drifted underneath Hexagon and wound around the propeller rendering the motor useless for propulsion.

I have had an eventful 24 hours onboard Hexagon which hold true to that well known saying, ‘It never rains, but it pours.’

As I mentioned yesterday, I was running low on fuel for motoring Hexagon to the coast of Argentina. My shore crew working with the Argentine authorities had organised for a fishing vessel to come out and rendezvous with me at set co-ordinates to refuel Hexagon.

I proceeded to the arranged place and at around the right time I spotted a fishing vessel on the horizon. It was enormous, more of a ship than a boat but I motored over to meet it. Once I had established contact I quickly discovered this was not the boat that had come to meet me but a vessel from Uruguay out fishing the rich waters of this part of the Atlantic.

The captain of the new vessel agreed he would help me refuel and dropped a line on a buoy off his stern to float down to me. I attached the line to Hexagon and they started to haul me toward the ship. The rope was very long and so, to assist, I engaged Hexagon’s motor in astern. While I was approaching the vessel the towline broke, and before I could react, it drifted underneath Hexagon and wound around the propeller rendering the motor useless for propulsion.

The Uruguayan ship hauled me alongside and I refuelled. They sent a diver over to remove the rope from the prop, but he was unable to get down below the boat. Eventually, night came and with that the Captain informed me that it was time for him and his crew to go fishing and they were gone.

I was grateful of the help this friendly ship had given me, but was now left in a difficult situation. I have full fuel tanks but am not able to use the engine. Overnight, I drifted with the wind and current, finding myself in the midst of a whole host of squid fishing vessels. These boats have bright spotlights they use to attract the squid, which constantly shined on Hexagon when she came close to the boats.

During the night the wind changed direction and I floated out of the fishing grounds and into clearer waters. The morning promises a beautiful day, there are light winds and sunshine. I am glad of the fine weather.

My shore crew are at work trying to find a freighter that would be able to ship a mast out to Argentina at short notice. I need to work with them to decide how we will get Hexagon to the shore.

I am determined to complete this circumnavigation whatever the circumstances and am hoping things will start to become a little more straightforward. Thank you for the jokes and messages; so far my sense of humour is still intact!

Fair winds


Position: 45°50’S 059°32’W
Barometer: 1002 rising
Wind: 7-8 knots N
Sea State: Calm
Cloud cover: 1/8
Precipitation: None

Tim Kent reports from on board Everest Horizontal


Barometer 992, wind 12 knots, speed 9 knots

We are finally moving. Most of the day Monday and all of last night was spent in virtually no wind. It's actually harder to sail in very little wind than it is in too much. One top French solo racer says that when the wind drops below 8 knots, he stops racing and tends to his boat and his sleep. Once the wind comes back, he feels that he will make up the few miles lost this way.

During the day yesterday I spent some time getting to know the marine vegetation in the area. In other words, I sailed into a kelp bank and had to rid myself of the stuff that was wrapped around my keel and rudders. Kelp is a big plant that floats. It has little bladders that look like peppers that keep it afloat and big flowers that look like what you would see on a spider plant.

If a sailor is unlucky enough to plow into a bank of this stuff, it all has to be pulled off the foils of the boat. I had so much of it wrapped around the keel that I had to use the main to stop the boat and back it up so that I could reach down with my boathook and pull the stuff off the keel.

I think it's all off as the boat seems to be performing well at the moment. I still have not gotten past the Falkland Islands, though as this wind fills in, I am sure that we will leave them behind in a few hours. Bruce is still there, repairing his boom, so I will shortly have
a 60 footer breathing down my neck as he is slated to be ready to restart tomorrow.

I have gotten a flood of congratulatory e-mails from many of you after my rounding of the Horn. I can not tell you how much it means to me that so many of you have taken the time to write to me after that milestone. In so many ways, this is not a solo event. I can feel the support that you have provided and interest that all of you have, and I appreciate it more than I can ever say. Thank you.

Kojiro has now rounded Cape Horn. In an e-mail from him today, he reports that the first bad weather he had on the whole leg was just off then Horn, three hours of wind at 50 knots. Then he, too experienced the calm weather that has been plaguing me. Now it only remains for Alan and Derek to make their roundings and we will have the entire fleet in the Atlantic for the first time since last December.

As in so many Around Alone/BOC races in the past, much of the worst damage has occurred in Class 1. Hopefully the spate of damaged boats is at an end and all 11 boats will be able to gather in Salvador for the final blast home.

Kels Gilkison, the Race Director, is in Salvador right now preparing for the arrival of first boats in Class 1 later this week. She reports that it is very hot - I can't wait! Carnival is still going on in Salvador, but will end within a few days, so I will miss this spectacular party. No matter - my sole goal now is to get to that port, now 2,660 miles away, and prepare for the final leg to Newport.


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