All change in Around Alone

As class one positions change in closing stages of leg three

Sunday January 12th 2003, Author: Mary Ambler, Location: Transoceanic
Offshore races particularly ones which run over several thousand miles usually become processional in their closing stages. Not so with the first Southern Ocean leg of Around Alone.

Following Thierry Dubois’ second place finish (above) on Solidaires in Tauranga at 22:03:54 local time (09:03:54 GMT) on Friday, two match races have developed in the class one fleet.

Simone Bianchetti's Tiscali overtook Graham Dalton's Hexagon yesterday, but today as the two boats round Cape Reinga at the top of New Zealand's North Island, Dalton has regained the lead, no doubt eager to get the final podium place on the leg to his native land. Crossing the Tasman Sea has been hard both skippers as they have had to concentrate to make the best of the light flukey winds that have beset them.

Simone Bianchetti reported in a phone conversation with Race HQ: “This stretch of ocean is worse even than the Doldrums at the Equator, I would prefer a Southern Ocean storm to this any day. I have no food left and just 3 litres of drinking water now. The sea state last night was very choppy, the boat goes bang, bang, bang, and I know Hexagon closed in. In the last 6 hours the wind has risen, I am averaging 12 knots and I hope to push my lead out a bit more.” Considering he has a temporary mast lent to him by Bernard Stamm (a new rig is being delivered to Tiscali in New Zealand following his dismasting on leg 2) and a hardly ideal sail inventory, Bianchetti has brought Tiscali through this leg remarkably well. “The boat and the sails are okay, no damage at all,” he concluded.

The wind is coming back thanks to a low pressure to their North West bringing 15-20 knots of ENE breeze. Graham Dalton was feeling the frustration as he was only able to look on and watch, still wallowing in light headwinds to the south of his Italian rival. The current ETA for both boats is during the early morning on Tuesday local time. The whole of New Zealand is on tenterhooks waiting to see if their Kiwi skipper will reach his home port of Tauranga first.

Meanwhile class 2 leader Brad van Liew on board the open 50 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America has been putting in a blinder and overtaken the Open 60s of Emma Richards and Bruce Schwab.

Schwab and Richards are also racing a tight battle with just one mile separating as they head for Cape Reinga in light east southeasterly winds from a shallow depression to the north of the Tasman Sea. Schwab's Ocean Planet overtook Pindar yesterday, but this morning Richards was ahead again.

Richards has spent the last days nursing her severely ripped mainsail. “I have more daylight showing through my repairs than normal, but I have decided to push anyway, as if it goes, it goes, but at least I will have tried to the last to hold onto that 5th position, and I will continue to cross fingers and toes and touch wood that the main holds together.”

POSITIONS AT 06:00GMT 12th JANUARY 2003

Leg 3 Provisional Rankings
1. Bobst Group-Armor Lux finished at 22:24:43 GMT 8th JAN 03 after 25 days, 12 hours, 24 minutes, 43 seconds
2. Solidaires FINISHED AT 09:03:54 GMT 9th JAN 03 after 26 days, 23 hours, 56 minutes, 6 seconds

Class 1
Boat Lat Lon AvgBsp AvgHeading DTF

3. Hexagon 34 14.070 S 172 06.360 E 7.55 kt 44 °T 310.44 nm
4. Tiscali 34 10.120 S 171 58.480 E 5.90 kt 85 °T 317.34 nm
5. Pindar 37 12.240 S 169 59.290 E 9.12 kt 35 °T 504.43 nm
6. Ocean Planet 37 05.530 S 169 46.190 E 7.99 kt 46 °T 505.56 nm

Class 2
Boat Lat Lon AvgBsp AvgHeading DTF
1. Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America 36 41.240 S 169 46.140 E 8.10 kt 45 °T 487.48 nm
2. Everest Horizontal 42 24.010 S 150 00.970 E 7.95 kt 105 °T 1451.38 nm
3. Spirit of Canada 43 41.400 S 145 54.780 E 4.52 kt 82 °T 1645.83 nm
4. Spirit of yukoh 46 17.100 S 144 58.420 E 6.86 kt 108 °T 1731.59 nm
5. BTC Velocity 44 29.530 S 130 36.220 E 5.79 kt 93 °T 2308.03 nm

Bruce Schwab reports from on board Ocean Planet

Ocean Planet in the Around Alone - Update
Sunday, January 12, 2003 1530gmt
Position: 36 18S, 170 56E
Closing in on the north capes of New Zealand.

It only figures that after 8000 miles or so of Southern Ocean zooming, we would finish a solid 500 miles of beating to windward. Primarily on starboard, our "bad" tack, too.

With the wind from the southeast, we are sailing directly into northeast chop from the winds that were here just before we arrived. Whap! Slap! We go okay as long as I keep the port rail nearly buried in the water! Can't wait to get on port tack and "tank up" where we will have the upwind speed advantage. I am hoping that once getting around the northern tip of New Zealand the wind will still have enough east in it to favor port
tack.

Not getting much world news out here, just some very welcome reports from our good friend Kels (Kelly) with the race logistics support. I hear that the US is really pouring troops in the gulf....makes me sad that it has come to this again and very worried. Hopefully things may still smooth over? One can only hope that we can eventually learn to share our Ocean Planet that we live on without either closed-minded religious beliefs or corporate imperialism. There is, unfortunately, plenty of both to go around. When you sail for so long without seeing anyone it is hard to imagine shooting other humans.

Really looking forward to getting to beautiful New Zealand!! I hear that the more peaceful battle of the Americas Cup is heating up in Auckland. Although both sports are sailing, the AC and the Around Alone are VERY different... Hope to find time to visit Auckland and see the show and apparently there are lot of folks coming to Tauranga to see us
too.

Thank to all our friends getting ready to spiff up Ocean Planet in Tauranga! In no particular order, BIG thank you to all of these folks who are coming to help out: Ashley Perrin, Jason Winkel, Ayn Woodruff, Lydia Vargas, Andrew Roberts, Wendy Hinman, Garth Wilcox, Robyn Croft, Rich Jones, Edie Felix, Kevin Flanigan, Chris Flanigan....and anyone I forgot! Can't wait to see you all there....in about three more days?

Bruce

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