Totally unhinged

Our Around Alone correspondent, The Snake, takes us on a mental tour of a singlehanded sailor
'One boat...around the world...alone' runs the race slogan, though many feel that between the words 'one sailor' and 'one boat' the phrase 'totally unhinged and mentally unstable' should be inserted. That the Around Alone is possibly the most demanding yacht race is without doubt; the lack of experience of some of the skippers, though, will only become evident over the forthcoming circumnavigation. The Around Alone is a unique assembly of talent and audacity ranging from well funded, well founded professional skippers on modern Open 60s in Class 1, to unknown, untested and under-budgeted 40s and 50s in Class 2. The only American entry in Class 1 is Bruce Schwab ( Ocean Planet) in a Californian designed 60. It seems that Schwab's designers have chosen to ignore the twenty years of Open 60 design experience gained in France and dominated by Finot and have produced a boat quite unlike any 60 in existence. This has caused much head-scratching on the pontoons among the European teams and it will be interesting to see how the talented Schwab matches up. Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm with the lethally fast Bobst Group-Armor Lux has much of the money riding on him for Class 1 favourite while Briton Emma Richards on Pindar has caused a media frenzy and been compared to Lara Croft, although happily Emma is usually less heavily armed, but will shake-up the all-male fleet. Richards has already caused a stir arriving in Rhode Island five hours before the deadline imposed by the race organisers after completing a 4,000 mile, four week long solo trans Atlantic qualifier. Without doubt most talk has been around Kiwi Graham Dalton's Hexagon misfortune in breaking his mast during his UK to USA qualifier. Returning to England Dalton rented Kingfisher's spare mast, some antique pre-Vendee Globe sails and set off again. Hexagon