Dalton takes third
The Kiwi yachtsman had his boat built in Tauranga, and so the return of Hexagon and her skipper from racing half way around the world to arriving in third place on the 7,200 nm Australasian leg of Around Alone from Cape Town to New Zealand created a huge excitement amongst the locals. About 60 spectator craft came out to welcome him across the line as he threw in three last tacks to lay the finish in the gusting 20 knot wind.
The last night of the voyage was possibly the worst for Dalton as he reported seeing 60 knot headwinds and torrential rain, which caused some concern as Hexagon was knocked down a couple of times near rocky shores. Not only that but rival competitor Italian Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali had been pursuing him doggedly down the coastline, himself reporting to have had “a bad, bad, bad night in hell” like Dalton. Bianchetti blew his genoa overnight, which caused him to lose 25 miles to Dalton. He is expected to finish at midnight local time tonight (1200hrs GMT).
After docking Hexagon at the Tauranga Bridge Marine pontoons to a crowd of hundreds, Dalton sprayed Champagne Mumm to celebrate his arrival with children following the Global Education Challenge standing at the bow with ‘Welcome Home Graham’ banners. Dalton said to the awaiting media at the dockside, "I aim to do my best on every leg, but for me, this one is all the more satisfying as I was sailing into the port where Hexagon was built and where we have so much support. A combination of intuition, skill and a little bit of luck has been crucial for me on this leg of the race. My communications systems were down for most of this leg, which meant that I lacked the up to the minute weather data that plays such an important part in competitive yacht racing. Despite this, it has been my most successful leg so far and this is down to excellent preparation by the team in Cape Town."
Out on the water, Bianchetti is followed by skipper Emma Richards on Pindar and American Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet, both still vying for fifth place 171 nm from the finish and 120 miles behind Tiscali. Emma is hoping the Maori pendant she is wearing will bring her luck and keep her mainsail together to the finish after it was badly torn last week. Despite spending hours hand-sewing and sticking together the lateral tear along the whole of her mainsail, the damage drastically handicapped the boat from being competitive with the boats ahead during the final week of racing.
Four miles behind them is the clear Class 2 leader, American Brad Van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America. He is a phenomenal 1,025 nm ahead of the nearest Open 50.
POSITIONS AT 06:00GMT 14th JANUARY (19:00 am LOCAL TIME) 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
3. Hexagon finished at 06:38:18 GMT 14th JAN 03 after 31 days, 20 hours, 38 minutes, 18 seconds
Boat Lat Lon AvgBsp AvgHeading DTF
4. Tiscali 36 47.220 S 175 52.220 E 4.83 kt 130 °T 50.79 nm
5. Ocean Planet 35 17.220 S 174 29.000 E 3.93 kt 140 °T 171.09 nm
6. Pindar 35 00.220 S 174 55.100 E 5.19 kt 93 °T 171.35 nm
Boat Lat Lon AvgBsp AvgHeading DTF
1. Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America 35 05.480 S 174 36.000 E 4.58 kt 120 °T 175.97 nm
2. Everest Horizontal 44 18.540 S 157 35.290 E 6.53 kt 104 °T 1205.79 nm
3. Spirit of Canada 43 59.080 S 153 18.990 E 7.75 kt 86 °T 1353.03 nm
4. Spirit of yukoh 46 34.360 S 152 09.950 E 6.23 kt 79 °T 1470.98 nm
5. BTC Velocity 42 57.410 S 138 31.380 E 8.56 kt 111 °T 1974.38 nm