Tailenders match race

Mary Ambler reports from Cape Town on the end of Around Alone's second leg

Sunday December 8th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
The last two Class 2 skippers finished in Cape Town today in a dramatic two horse boat race to the line 7,000nm and 55 days since leaving Torbay on Around Alone's second leg. . Alan Paris on BTC Velocity and John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia both came out of the fog this morning only to be surprised to see each other’s boats just metres apart in the final 15 miles to the finish.

Dennis had been a good 130 miles ahead less than two days ago, but had got caught in a windless hole inshore last night, only making two miles an hour. However, Paris’s Open 40 is made for these lighter winds and amazingly in the last 10 miles, he steered a course more offshore to sail BTC Velocity past John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia just before the finish line and crossed at 12:59:24 local time (10:59:24 GMT) under full sail and spinnaker flying in a soft private breeze all of his own.

Just 100 metres behind, Dennis then lost the wind and even took down his collapsing spinnaker to end up ghosting across the line at 13:22:36 local time (11:22:36 GMT) just 23 minutes after Paris . It is incredible that the local breeze ended up being the determining factor in their race all the way from from England.

We recall that once during this leg in the Atlantic, both skippers sighted each other's boat briefly, a rare occurence in these round the world offshore races, but not as rare as seeing them racing alongside each other this morning. Both skippers, who celebrated their birthdays on this leg, had their wives and children waiting for them and all the other class 2 skippers as well as Bruce Schwab & Emma Richards from Class 1 came out to welcome them both in and assist them with getting the boat dockside.

Dennis spoke of how wonderful it was to arrive in Cape Town and to see his wife Penny and daughter Stephanie cheering him on as he crossed the line. As a diabetic skipper, Dennis has had to manage his medical condition by himself, and has done so successfully.

Paris commented on how this leg he paced himself more, and feels well rested despite the fact that the leg was definitely very long for him. They moored up alongside each other at Pierhead and sprayed Champagne Mumm over each other to celebrate their arrivals. The Sunday crowds at the V&A Waterfront lined the pontoon and clapped and cheered both skippers after their long awaited arrival in Cape Town, South Africa. Even now there are people working on their boats to prepare them for the next marathon leg, which starts in only six days time at midday on the 14th December.

The only boat still remain to finish is Open 60 Tiscali, skippered by Simone Bianchetti. He is 424 miles away and keeping up good boatspeed around 10 knots, which means that his ETA is overnight on Monday/Tuesday.

More pics on page 2...

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