The Snake in New Zealand

Our forked tongued Around Alone correspondent on chaos theory and the latest news from Tauranga
The welcome in the North Island town of Tauranga has been the most effusive of all the Around Alone stopovers so far. The enthusiasm here for yacht racing, indeed for sport generally, is high. Admiration for the skippers’ achievements is evident and mirrored in the imagination and breadth of the events organised locally for the duration of the fleet’s stay here on the Bay of Plenty’s coast in a combination of traditional Maori hospitality and the community’s genial disposition. Tauranga has many similarities with Cowes, Isle of Wight. It is a seasonal tourist town and destination for weekending Aucklanders and absentee landlords that is intensely boat and water orientated. Tauranga, though, is not burdened by the stifling and often oppressive racing history and tradition that pervades Cowes and has an animated and highly charged atmosphere that is more karaoke than Corinthian. Much of the focus here is on the Kiwi skipper of Hexagon, Graham Dalton, who finished third in Class 1 after an impressively sailed race from South Africa. The support is, naturally, partisan and The Tauranga Yacht and Motorboat Club is a mass of Hexocentric banners; “Welcome Graham!”/”Follow Hexagon around the globe,”/”Support New Zealand’s solo sailor,”/”Come and watch Dalton smoking tabs,” sort of thing. Dalton does deserve praise; his performance in this leg of Around Alone has propelled him up the points table and he now lies in fourth place, trailing Emma Richards on Pindar by one point. New Zealand represents the 'halfway point' of The Around Alone and work in the race yacht’s base, The Tauranga Bridge Marina, reflects the effects of the Southern Ocean and the distance still to race. Bernard Stamm (Class 1 victor) has hauled his Bobst Groupe-Armor Lux out of the water to repair an eight feet long section of delamination on the yacht’s starboard side; a