Fleet divide

An update from Around Alone

Wednesday February 12th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Positions at 2200 on 12 February 2003

Pos Name Lat Long DTF DTL 24h Run
1 Solidaires -45.4 -169.6 6676.4 205.5
2 Ocean Planet -45.1 -169.8 6690.7 14.3 200.1
3 Bobst Group-Armor Lux -47.1 -171.8 6691 14.7 190.4
4 Hexagon -45.8 -171.2 6713.7 37.3 195.1
5 Tiscali -46.4 -172.3 6730.6 54.3 198
6 Pindar -44.3 -170.2 6737.4 61.1 159.7
1 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America -44.3 -170.3 6738.2 155.9
2 Everest Horizontal -44.2 -173.8 6861.5 123.3 114.6
3 Spirit of yukoh -43.5 -173.9 6889 150.8 99.8
4 BTC Velocity -42.7 -174.2 6933.1 195 85.6
5 Spirit of Canada -39.5 176.9 7362.5 624.3 70.3

At the front of the Around Alone fleet there has been a big divide with race leader Bernard Stamm and Italian Simone Bianchetti continuing their passage south, while the rest have peeled off to the east. The result is that there is the rare phenomenon in the race at present of Bernard Stamm not being in the lead, although clearly the Swiss skipper has a longer term plan.

At present there is a stationary high pressure system forming to the east of the fleet and despite several competitors heading east, it is likely that they will need to make a break for the south again or risk encountering light conditions.

The latest positions show Thierry Dubois' Solidaires leading from Bruce Schwab's Ocean Planet, who is really showing some form following her bow modifications in Tauranga.

Spirit of Canada's Derek Hatfield made it into Napier at 2000 NZ time last night and with the help of technical experts from four of the boats was able to get away after a 14 hour pitstop. The problem was identified as being due to a faulty battery fitted in the New Zealand stopover and possibly one of the solenoidsm that was causing massive power surges, frying Spirit of Canada's electronics. At the time Hatfield departed Napier he was 500 miles astern of last placed Alan Paris.

Graham Dalton writes from on board Hexagon :

It is very, very hot on board Hexagon, about 30 degrees at present and to be honest, I cannot wait to get into my thermal clothing as we move south and enter the cold southerly air stream.

In the Northern Hemisphere, a wind from the south is a warm wind but in the Southern Hemisphere a southerly wind comes from the Antarctic and so it is a much colder wind.

My clothing will be hugely important on this leg of the race. I tend to wear a layered system of clothing that includes a thermal vest and long-john next to the skin, a fleece as a mid layer and a windproof jacket with trousers underneath my foul weather clothing. During the extreme cold, I will wear up to 4-5 different layers. This will make work on board Hexagon still more tiring and, therefore, it will be vitally important to keep my food and calorie intake up at all times. For this purpose, my favourite snacks are crackers; they are easy to eat and don't need any preparation.

Although it doesn't really affect me, in terms of my day-to-day activity on board, I have crossed the International Date Line (180-degree meridian of longitude). This is the point at which the day starts and ends. With the earth spinning on its axis, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so any part of the earth to the west of the date line is starting a new day as the sun comes up. Anything to the east of the date line is still enjoying the previous day. To cross it from west to east meant that I lived through February 11 twice!

In the last few days I have been visited by a number of different birds. As I encountered in South Africa, the most fascinating is the Albatross. Often they fly within a few feet of the boat. I have also seen young ones sitting in the water Earlier today I passed what I believe was a giant squid. It was massive, about 10 feet long from its head to the tip of its tentacles!

The last 24hrs I have experienced relatively light winds and I am currently sailing along at 9 knots with my spinnaker up The spinnaker is a parachute type sail made out of light nylon that is used when sailing across the wind or with the wind behind the boat.

Today's onboard weather conditions are:

Position: 44° 06'S 172° 15'W
Wind: SE 18 knots
Barometer: 1118 steady
Cloud cover and type: 6/8 coverage before dark.
Sea State: Smooth, little swell
Precipitation: Drizzle

Fair winds,

Tim Kent reports from on board Everest Horizontal :

43.44.42s 173.49.37w

1849 GMT Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Derek is safely in Napier, New Zealand getting repairs done to the electrical system of Spirit of Canada. Not only is his shore crew there, but Kels Gilkison of Clipper Ventures, Greg Lewis of Crystal Electronics who is the electronics guru for Hexagon, and others are there to meet him and make his stopover as brief as possible.

Beginning last night and continuing as I write, we are beating into 20 knots winds and 6-8ft seas. This weather pattern did not show up on my weather files and came as a bit of an unwelcome surprise as we work our way south. I am headed almost due south with the solent (working jib) and double-reefed main. With the pounding, sleep was elusive last night and I am a bit bleary-eyed at the moment. It looks like we will get a lift later today that may allow me to ease the sheets and get rid of this pounding.

I awoke yesterday morning to find that the sail loft in Auckland which did my sail repair in New Zealand, which shall remain nameless, had screwed up yet another repair. This was to my Code 5, into which they had inserted a new luff rope, kindly donated by none other than Bruce Schwab. Problem is that they had sewn two straps to the tack of the sail so that two small cunningham lines could be tied to it from the ring at the tack, except they seem to have sewn them on with thread that was far too light. The result
was that the straps pulled out of the sail and it was riding up and down the luff rope with each wave. Of course, there is no way that the sail would furl, and it is the largest headsail in my inventory, made out of 2.2 Dacron to boot. Taking it down unfurled was tantamount to donating it to the deep.

Fortunately the wind was getting lighter, so I lasso-ed the furling drum from the end of the pole, and pulled it back to the deck with a new tack line and tacked it to a padeye near the bow. There I used some vise-grips on one side of the sail as a temporary cunningham attachment point, and temporarily stitched up the other side as the sail banged around on the foredeck, trying to make me stitch my fingers into the sail. That side complete, I removed the vise grips and stitched up the other side. With both sides temporarily repaired and tied down to the tack ring, I took the tack of the sail back out to the end of the pole and furled up the sail.


Only the sail was not truly repaired. I needed to stitch the webbing down to the tack of the sail, which was going to require that I get the sail down and totally unfurl it. So down it came, and up went the Code 0 in its place. It took almost an hour to unfurl that sail on the deck. A nearly 80 foot tall sail on 50 foot deck - it was a sweaty hassle. Then I needed to create a loft floor on the foredeck because to get each stitch through required banging a hole in the sail with an awl and hammer. I don't have any wood or a cutting board on board, so where to get the needed backing board? Aha! I unscrewed one of the companionway steps and had myself a little portable loft floor.

As I was working on this, the wind, remained very light. Knowing that this could not last forever, I worked on past dark with my headlamp and finally finished off the repair. I then furled and lowered the Code Zero, then loaded more line into the furler to allow me to raise the unfurled sail and then furl it up. With the wind still light, up went the sail and in it furled! 14 hours of planning and work later and the repair that the sail loft could have done properly in 15 minutes (and that I paid for) was complete. One hour later the wind piped up. If it had come any earlier, I would have had to stow the unfurled Code 5 down below for hoisting the next time there was almost no wind - something that happens rarely in the Southern Ocean.


Bruce Schwab reports from on board Ocean Planet

Wednesday, February 12, 2003 1330gmt Lat: 44 47S, Lon: 171 06W

Hi all,

Still hanging in there at third! Every time I make a good move, I eagerly await the position reports only to find Thierry and Bernard just ahead. They are tough! When we are within sight they have a very, very slight speed advantage except in very light air. They are still quite a bit faster reaching but not as much as they did earlier in the race. The bottom line is that all of these boats are fast and capable of hanging on to a lead if they find a little bit better wind.

While in New Zealand, we set up all the gear on the boat in containers so I can shift it from side to side when tacking or jibing. It adds a good 20 minutes of work each maneuver but it seems to be helping and it's good exercise....;-)

A have a lot of homework to do on weather and windshifts and my brain is getting a good workout too! Right now we are beating into about 17kts of SE wind, which should soon lighten and back to the east, NE, and then north sometime tomorrow. Right now we are beating into about 17kts of SE wind, which should soon lighten and back to the east, NE, and then north sometime tomorrow. The trick is deciding when to tack south as the wind shifts....we'll see!

Thanks for following,

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