Dismasting spells the end of Around Alone for a 'gutted' Graham Dalton

Foiled by the difficulty of building a new mast at short notice and getting it to Argentina, New Zealander Graham Dalton (pictured left) announced last night that he is withdrawing from Around Alone. Dalton’s Open 60 Hexagon was dismasted in a crash gybe 250 miles off the coast of Argentina the week before last and he was towed to Puerto Madryn.

It has been impossible to find a way for Dalton to rejoin the fleet for the restart on 9 April from Salvador, 2,000 miles further north. But with three quarters of the route round the world completed, Dalton hinted that he will carry on to complete the circumnavigation at a later date.

“I’m absolutely gutted that the race is over for me,” Dalton said. “It was just one of those things and certainly not down to a lack of preparation or attention to detail. I’ve been saying to the children I’ve been in contact with through the Global Education Challenge, that you aren’t successful because of your successes; you’re successful ultimately in the way you deal with failure. Well I certainly have to practice what I preach and I’m now working towards completing my circumnavigation.”

Dalton’s shore team had considered having an aluminium mast quickly made in New Zealand which would have been heavier than the original carbon mast, but would have got Hexagon back in the race. However, it was found to be too difficult and costly to air freight the spar, which would need to go in a front-loading plane, to Brazil or Argentina, so the plan was abandoned.

Meanwhile, in Ushuaia, Argentina, at the tip of South America, Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield and a team have been frantically making repairs to his boat Spirit of Canada in order to stay in the race. Hatfield’s boat was dismasted and damaged last week after being pitchpoled by a 50ft wave near Cape Horn.

The hydraulic keel canting system is being repaired, new sails that he was expecting in Salvador anyway are on their way, stanchions, furling gear and a multitude of superficial damage is being repaired and a new carbon mast is being built in Buenos Aires. The equipment and support team is thanks to a fund-raising campaign in Canada and, to a large extent, the intervention of a British benefactor.

If all goes well, Hatfield hopes to complete repairs and set off again in about 12 days. If the weather is kind to him he may arrive in Salvador in time for the restart. If not, he says he will treat the race to Newport as a 7,000-mile leg, perhaps stopping in Salvador briefly to top up supplies before giving chase to the other competitors.