New York bound

As the Around Alone's fully crewed prologue sets sail for Manhattan

Thursday September 12th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States
Breathing a sigh of relief that Hurricane Gustav had spared them 24 hours earlier, the 13 competitors in Around Alone headed for the Newport, Rhode Island start line of the prologue event in a dying breeze. En route out of Newport harbour the boats had carried out a parade of sail before the Newport boat show and at 1600 off the Fort Adams line the Governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Almond, together with the Mayor of Torbay, fired the start cannon.

The race south does not count in the points for Around Alone and each of the boats are carrying crew - an opportunity for the teams to thank sponsors, shore crew and give the media a taste of what lies in store for the skippers as they circumnavigate the globe singlehanded over the next months.

Adding fuel to our theory that Graham Dalton is not as off the pace as some (and possibly he) would have us believe, it was the HSBC-sponsored Hexagon that made a start that would have made Dalton's more famous younger brother proud. However shortly after Hexagon fell into a wind hole and was overtaken by Patrick de Radigues in the extreme-looking skimming dish Garnier (formerly Yves Parlier's Aquitaine Innovations).

The most impressive performance was the Open 40 Spirit of Canadasailed by Canadian former Mountie Derek Hatfield who was up with the leaders at the start. Hatfield is a veteran of the OSTAR and put much input into the design of his boat, which he also built. The result is a simple, no-nonsense Open 40 with a canting keel. He was soon overhauled by the overwhelming class favourite, Brad van Liew's Open 50 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America.

Although Gustav had passed, it was expected that the boats would experience the lumpy seas left over from the hurricane's 95 knot winds. The passage was expected to be light and upwind.

The latest information (Friday morning) - which is sketchy - suggests that Garnier, Hexagon and Ocean Planet are the front runners.

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