Round the Horn
New leader for leg 4, French skipper Thierry Dubois on Solidaires, has been sleeplessly fire-fighting in squally upwind conditions to the northeast of the Falklands for a couple of days, trying to eek out as much of an advantage over Bernard Stamm while the former leader is stopped in port. “Don’t think I jumped for joy when I heard about Bernard’s problem and enforced stop. To win you have to finish, the race is long and this leg in particular demands a careful handling of the boat. Also, when someone else has a problem, I worry about my own boat: I was checking my mast when Simone dismasted, inspecting my keel when Bernard broke his… And to be ahead adds another pressure… So above all I stay focused and alert, I don’t change the way I sail, and we’ll see what happens soon!”
At 17:00hrs GMT today Bernard Stamm restarted his race on Bobst Group-Armor Lux after a 22 hour pit-stop in Port Stanley to repair his broken keel board. The impatient and exhausted skipper snatched just an hour’s sleep and mended his mainsail rip while three men worked in the confined space in Bernard’s rabbit-warren of a boat on fixing and bolting the two steel plates either side of the keel. The laborious part was drilling through the 14cm monolithic carbon at the base of the keel board just above the axis. “The guys did a great job, tirelessly working the whole time, I have to hand it to them; so now the proof of the pudding will be if it holds out for the rest of the leg.”
Stamm will be penalised by 48hrs for stopping in the Falklands and must now fight hard to keep his first place in the overall rankings. In order to stay ahead, Bernard must finish third in Salvador, inclusive of his penalty, to total 38 points, one more than Dubois will tally if he wins this leg and scoops the winner's 10 points. Solidaires is 225 miles ahead already and Tiscali is 188 miles behind Bobst Group-Armor Lux.
Italian skipper Simone Bianchetti has decided that this is the time to pull the stops out: “I have no problems on my boat. Right now there is 30 knots of wind from the NNW and I have decided to leave the Falklands to starboard..." His Lombard designed Open 60, it must be added, is also quick upwind and so his strategy will put him in a different weather system than the two in the east, and it is either going to pay huge dividends or not, but at any rate, he won't simply follow the leaders.
Bruce Schwab on wounded Ocean Planet rounded the Horn earlier today and is heading for the Falkland Islands to pull in and repair his broken boom. Graham Dalton is sheltering Hexagon in the archipelago to starboard of Cape Horn and made the rendez-vous with his shore manager last night to get the carbon splint onto his boom, but he has yet to rejoin the race. As both these boats will take the 48 hour penalty once they receive outside assistance, the other skipper Bernard has in his rear mirror is Emma Richards on Pindar, who rounded the Horn at 19:14 GMT, 462 miles behind Stamm. If he is to retain an advantage over Dubois he must finish ahead of her, inclusive of penalties, however, if he does that will mean Emma will go into the final leg on equal points with Bianchetti in a battle for 3rd position overall.
The next boat to round Cape Horn is American Class 2 leader Brad van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America. He will pass the legendary seafaring landmark for the second time in his life, with an impressive 700 miles ahead of second placed Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal.
172 miles now lies between Alan Paris on the Open 40 BTC Velocity and rival Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada, the latter trying to finish in Salvador ahead of his fellow skipper in order to consolidate his overall third place in Class 2. Sandwiched in between the front and back pair is Japanese Kojiro Shiraishi, whose experiences are nothing short of daredevil on his Open 40 Spirit of yukoh. After one heady trip up the mast to replace wind instruments, he has been out on deck getting soaked for hours in the dark trying to untangle the halyards from each other so he can reef the main. His task accomplished, Shiraishi gets back to the business of racing: “The wind is gusting now between 20 and over 35kts and the big difference in the wind speed is making sailing very difficult. The temperature is down to 8 Deg and the sky is lead grey colour.”
POSITIONS AT 2200GMT 26th FEBRUARY 2003
Boat Lat Lon AvgBsp AvgHeading DTF
1 Solidaires, 48 16.020 S, 51 55.070 W, 10.54 kt, 58 °T, 2233.87 nm
2 Bobst Group-Armor Lux, 50 44.310 S, 56 55.240 W, 8.30 kt, 31 °T, 2458.56 nm
3 Tiscali, 52 11.520 S, 62 14.260 W, 9.76 kt, 18 °T, 2646.21 nm
4 Hexagon, 54 54.600 S, 65 58.140 W, 0.95 kt, 13 °Ta, 2856.48 nm
5 Ocean Planet, 55 37.450 S, 65 52.570 W, 9.21 kt, 69 °T, 2886.14 nm
6 Pindar, 55 49.110 S, 66 12.960 W, 15.41 kt, 79 °T, 2920.22 nm
Boat Lat Lon AvgBsp AvgHeading DTF
1 Tommy Hilfiger, 56 07.040 S, 70 41.480 W, 12.44 kt, 102 °T, 3061.60 nm
2 Everest Horizontal, 52 41.140 S, 90 01.810 W, 10.85 kt, 50 °T, 3763.26 nm
3 Spirit of yukoh, 52 06.940 S, 96 34.110 W, 7.99 kt, 67 °T, 3996.22 nm
4 BTC Velocity, 51 38.000 S, 109 08.190 W, 9.69 kt, 83 °T, 4428.71 nm
5 Spirit of Canada, 51 16.120 S, 114 01.260 W, 9.26 kt, 101 °T, 4600.58 nm