Three skippers are speeding to make repairs after rounding Cape Horn, as the competition for overall positions heats up
Half of Class 1 of Around Alone is now past Cape Horn and safely within striking distance of land, and various support teams have been hot-footing it to remote parts of Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands to help shore up damage to some of the yachts.
Bernard Stamm arrived in Port Stanley this morning, relinquishing his lead to Thierry Dubois, who was just 15 miles behind. Stamm’s team has been frantically trying to arrange the quickest possible way of repairing the damage to his keel. The situation caused him most anxiety last night when he was knocked down in gusts of 60 knots as he limped towards the Falklands. His fear was that the keel might part company with the boat, taking with it a section of the hull.
Pierre Rolland, the designer of Stamm’s Bobst Group Armor-Lux, has designated the type and shape of steel plates which will strengthen either side of the keel. The hasty fabrication, which makes use of the materials available in Port Stanley, will be fixed on either side of the keel and then through-bolted. His team anticipates that the hardest part will be drilling through the 140mm of monolithic carbon.
Stamm hopes the stop will be as quick as possible. Although he will have to take a 48-hour penalty, so will three other skippers who are stopping, so Stamm’s sternchase is all about minimising the number of points lost on this leg.
Graham Dalton, who also suffered a knockdown last night, is making his way to rendezvous with his shore crew in the lee of one of the islands near Cape Horn, where they will attempt to repair his broken boom. Likewise, Bruce Schwab says he is planning to halt so he can fix his broken boom. These are sensible calculated risks for each of the skippers because after Cape Horn there are atill 2,000 miles to the finish, many of them upwind or in light winds.
To extent, though, the key to overall results in this race is now being inadvertently held by Emma Richards. If Thierry Dubois wins this leg and Simone Bianchetti and Emma Richards end up ahead of Bernard Stamm, Dubois and Stamm will be equal on points. And if Emma Richards manages to hold her position or better it on the section to Brazil, her own chances of a podium position in this race are restored. It looks as if her determination to sail the part across the Southern Ocean ultra-cautiously and then, once past, to put her foot down is about to pay off.