Solidaires takes pole

Position reshuffle in Around Alone as race leader puts into port

Wednesday February 26th 2003, Author: Mary Ambler, Location: Transoceanic
Pos Name Lat Long SOG DTF DTL 24h Run
1 Solidaires -51.2 -57.2 15 2487.6 255.1
2 Bobst Group-Armor Lux -51.7 -57.8 0 2524.7 37.2 157.6
3 Tiscali -55.8 -66.6 13 2912.9 425.4 272.8
4 Hexagon -55.9 -67.2 NaN 2943.8 456.2 239
5 Ocean Planet -55.8 -72.7 13.2 3129.1 641.5 239.8
6 Pindar -56.2 -74.4 8.8 3185.1 697.5 252.3
1 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America -56.1 -78.6 10 3325.1 279.8
2 Everest Horizontal -52.8 -95.8 11 3952.4 627.3 187.1
3 Spirit of yukoh -52.4 -102.1 10 4176.2 851 245.4
4 BTC Velocity -52.6 -115.2 8.8 4602.6 1277.5 196
5 Spirit of Canada -51.4 -120.6 14.2 4812.4 1487.3 238.7

The 7,880nm marathon sprint from Tauranga to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil through the Southern Ocean and round Cape Horn, is living up to its reputation as the Class 1 boats play musical chairs for the first time half way through Leg 4 of Around Alone 2002-03.

Following problems with his yacht's keel, race leader and winner of the last three legs, Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group-Armor Lux, has just been forced to relinquish his lead to his closest rival, Thierry Dubois on Solidaires, and by doing so has put in jeopardy the three point lead he currently holds over Dubois in the overall rankings. “As I was coming into port, I knew Boisdu (Thierry) was only 15 miles behind, you can’t believe how frustrating that felt…”

At 20:24hrs GMT, Bobst Group/Armor Lux came alongside the pontoon at Port Stanley. The Swiss are known for precision timing, and this is what Bernard needs right now more than anything else, and he is impatient: “For me, there is five hours of work to do once I stop. There are 50 holes to drill in the two steel plates, and afterwards to align them. The plates are ready…”

Below - the canting keel, showing the cracking along the top of the keel hinge and the top of the blade (used to cant the keel)

The yacht’s designer Pierre Rolland has created a piece, which has been fashioned using the materials available to the team in the Falklands: two steel plates which will be fixed on either side of the keel board and then bolted together in between. The hardest part is going to be piercing through 140mm of monolithic carbon - but once bolted through, Stamm will be able to leave again. To add insult to injury, the boat suffered another knock-down earlier from a 60 knot gust as a front passed through, and the mainsail ripped at the reinforcement of the reefing point, adding a sewing job to the pressing agenda.

It is a real race against time as this stop will incur a 48 hour penalty for Stamm, as well as the time in port.

While Thierry Dubois takes over first place, it will interesting to see in what place Stamm can pull back into the race following his pitstop. Italian skipper Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali is likely to take over second place while Stamm is in port.

Bianchetti was rounding Cape Horn at 22:00hrs GMT ahead of Dalton on Hexagon but nearly three days behind Stamm. The South Atlantic is fickle, always doling out a few suprise cards on the table, and so will Tiscali follow Solidaires’ trail to the east of the Falklands or find a new window of opportunity on the other side to try to overtake before the finish line?

Graham Dalton and Bruce Schwab are expected to stop to fix their broken booms as well and this will result in Emma Richards pulling back up into fourth place from her lowly sixth at the moment.

Richards represents the real wild card in the overall points battle, as she is currently in third overall with 20 points, and yet Dalton, Bianchetti and Schwab are all respectively just one, two and three points behind. Will Richard be able to hold on to her podium place?

Richards and Schwab were getting a pasting from the Southern Ocean today, and are both within two days of Cape Horn. Emma sent the briefest of messages today: “Been on tiller for most of 10 hours now, been gusting to 56kts, now between 30 and 45. White water and spray everywere, big waves from the side knocking us sideways, in the dark is just a mad sleigh ride that you can't get off, even when you want to!! Exhausting and quite stressful...”

Class 2 leader Brad Van Liew remains well over 500 miles ahead of his nearest competitor, Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal but they are in two totally different weather patterns. While Kent has relatively benign weather, the same cannot be said for life on board Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America: "It has been gusting to 63 knots. Right now the wind is blowing right off the ice and it's very cold. It's also wet with water everywhere. It's not as bad as four years ago, but it's a severe gale nonetheless. I can't wait to get to the Horn, around the corner and out of this place.”


Class 1
Boat Lat Lon AvgBsp AvgHeading DTF

1 Solidaires, 51 12.260 S, 57 11.400 W, 13.68 kt, 38 °T, 2487.58 nm
2 Bobst Group-Armor Lux, 51 41.310 S, 57 49.120 W, 6.15 kt, 39 °T, 2524.75 nm
3 Tiscali, 55 50.260 S, 66 38.380 W, 13.72 kt, 72 °T, 2912.95 nm
4 Hexagon, 55 56.700 S, 67 10.320 W, 5.85 kt, 74 °T, 2943.82 nm
5 Ocean Planet, 55 48.040 S, 72 40.500 W, 10.25 kt, 99 °T, 3129.07 nm
6 Pindar, 56 12.500 S, 74 23.260 W, 10.73 kt, 130 °T, 3185.09 nm

Class 2
Boat Lat Lon AvgBsp AvgHeading DTF
1 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America 56 06.400 S, 78 34.500 W, 11.83 kt, 125 °T, 3325.12 nm
2 Everest Horizontal, 52 50.380 S, 95 46.500 W, 11.68 kt, 112 °T, 3952.37 nm
3 Spirit of yukoh, 52 21.160 S, 102 06.900 W, 9.74 kt, 101 °T, 4176.17 nm
4 BTC Velocity, 52 37.330 S, 115 14.160 W, 8.97 kt, 82 °T, 4602.63 nm
5 Spirit of Canada, 51 24.000 S, 120 37.310 W, 10.60 kt, 83 °T, 4812.42 nm

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