Stamm dives south

The latest Around Alone news including Emma Richards' 4.5 hour ordeal at the masthead of Pindar

Friday November 8th 2002, Author: James Boyd/Mary Ambler, Location: Transoceanic
Today the top three boats in Class 1 of Around Alone 2002-03 are facing their last major hurdle between them and the finish of Leg 2 in Cape Town, South Africa. Leader Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group-Armor Lux has run out of straight road as the South Atlantic high is sitting right in front of his bow.

Only one option was open to the Swiss skipper in his mind – to head down to the fringes of the ‘roaring forties’: “I had to take the bull by the horns and gybe south after my downwind run through the narrow passage between the two high pressure systems. Three hours later, 35 knots of wind and 4.5m waves, a battering guaranteed!”

The only way forward for these boats given the location of the high pressure system over Cape Town is to duck under the system to benefit from favourable northwest to west 20 knot winds, as going over the top of the high pressure system would only give them adverse headwinds. This means heading down towards 40degS, where competitors will get their first taste of the Southern Ocean. Looking at his track, Stamm is on course for another high speed passage as he is estimating his arrival for the 13th or 14th November, which will make his elapsed time for the leg around 31 days after setting out on 14 October from Brixham.

French skipper Thierry Dubois has accelerated off with the rising breeze and is now 72 miles in front of Emma Richards on Pindar, after the British skipper’s terrifying ordeal up her 80ft mast to replace the main halyard. Another predator in the shape of Graham Dalton on Hexagon is creeping up on Richards as well. Dalton is still around 300 miles behind, however the New Zealander has been revelling in stronger favourable winds to the west compared to the front runners and clocked the best 24hr run of the class.

American Brad van Liew, skipper of Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, became the first Class 2 entrant to cross the invisible line of the equator and join his Class 1 mates in the Southern Hemisphere. Brad described his difficult transition through the Doldrums. "I hope this will help put to rest the notion that the Doldrums are nothing more than the windless region between the northern and southern hemisphere weather patterns. This is not just an area where one simply goes slowly and demonstrates patience while the new winds form on your bow. It is definitely a milestone, but let me assure you that the test of the doldrums is what will always make a sailor, really want, or badly need, to get to the other hemisphere and not take the voyage lightly."

Class 2 are enjoying really close racing, as the positions show. Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal is in a buoyant mood today after taking the plunge to head west, as he is now back into 3rd place behind Canadian, Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada. The class 2 skippers in the grip of the Doldrums had rather different reactions to its unpredictable effects. After another 30 knot squall, Hatfield’s “only regret was that I didn't have any time to grab the soap and take a proper shower, something I could do with right about now." Meanwhile on board Spirit of yukoh, Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi was dealing with the frustratingly calm conditions the old fashioned way; meditating to “empty my mind and stay zen!”

And finally… it seems to be the fashion for boats on long distance solo races to ‘bump into each other’. Two sightings in the last 2 days have bizarrely occurred. Thierry Dubois actually sailed into view of Pindar whilst Emma was aloft, but seeing no one on deck, nor getting any response to his call over VHF, he sailed off alone again, baffled that he had the “amazing fortune to come across the most charming creature in the Atlantic” but that she was not ‘at home’. Only after Emma sent him a message when he was long gone did he realise that she had been up the mast the whole time.

Secondly, Bermudian Alan Paris actually sent a picture to the website of Bayer Ascensia sailing alongside him, amazed “that in this large expanse of ocean 2 boats can meet at almost the same point.”

Read the accounts from the boats including Emma Richards' 4.5 hour masthead ordeal on the following pages...

Positions at 1400hrs UTC 8th November 2002

Class 1
Boat, Time, Lat, Lon, DistRun, AvgBsp, AvgHeading, DTF (nm)
1 Bobst Group Armor-Lux, 33 28.360 S, 7 19.360 W, 54.52 nm, 6.82 kt, 155 °T, 1352.94 nm
2 Solidaires, 30 15.190 S, 11 34.090 W, 70.88 nm, 8.87 kt, 133 °T, 1538.50 nm
3 Pindar, 29 51.720 S, 12 52.800 W, 70.36 nm, 8.79 kt, 153 °T, 1610.35 nm
4 Hexagon, 29 30.090 S, 18 36.260 W, 108.85 nm, 13.60 kt, 147 °T, 1899.14 nm
5 Ocean Planet, 1 20.310 N, 24 52.380 W, 66.09 nm, 8.26 kt, 204 °T, 4191.61 nm
6 Tiscali, 43 27.320 N, 8 21.000 W, 0.00 nm, 0.00 kt, 0 °T, 6799.83 nm

Class 2
Boat, Time, Lat, Lon, DistRun, AvgBsp, AvgHeading, DTF (nm)

1 Tommy Hilfiger, 2 48.360 S, 27 59.280 W, 73.28 nm, 9.16 kt, 190 °T, 3388.59 nm
2 Spirit of Canada, 5 20.400 N, 24 51.960 W, 69.40 nm, 8.66 kt, 187 °T, 4358.91 nm
3 Everest Horizontal, 6 18.360 N, 23 59.450 W, 43.84 nm, 5.48 kt, 185 °T, 4435.64 nm
4 BTC Velocity, 6 52.080 N, 23 21.540 W, 42.97 nm, 5.37 kt, 196 °T, 4484.51 nm
5 Spirit of yukoh, 6 33.520 N, 22 55.480 W, 37.72 nm, 4.72 kt, 194 °T, 4484.72 nm
6 Bayer Ascensia, 6 53.400 N, 23 21.570 W, 54.08 nm, 6.75 kt, 193 °T, 4485.59 nm

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