Around Alone race leader's 1st place is in jeopardy as he head for the Falklands for major repairs

Around Alone race leader Bernard Stamm has announced that he is heading for Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands to fix damage to his keel (pictured left). He is expecting help there to repair a large crack, but the cost will be a 48 hour penalty for taking outside assistance.

This will allow his French rival, Thierry Dubois, to get past him for almost the first time since the race began in New York. Dubois has always been close – just not close enough – but a stop plus a penalty could be all he needs to win this leg and even to move into 1st place overall. If Dubois finishes 1st and Stamm 4th, the two will be tied on points.

Stamm reported a loud cracking sound two days ago as he was rounding Cape Horn in big seas. He had been surfing at 21 knots even with the mainsail lowered when he came off the front of a 3m wave and landed in the trough. The impact seems to have been the cause of a large crack running right across the upper part of the keel, the section above the hull which is used to lever it from side to side.

“I’m advancing at 6 knots, close-hauled, with 10 knots of wind, with one reef and the staysail,” he reported last night. “The bloke I had on the phone [in the Falklands] is called Karl. Apart from that, I don’t know much else. They seem competent from the conversation we had. In theory, everything is getting organised, but I really just want to arrive now. For the moment, the conditions are fine for me. The wind will get up to 25 knots, and I hope everything will go well. I’ll be arriving close-hauled. I’ll get a tow into the harbour. The repair is holding out, but it’s rattling away. It sounds awful.”