Stamm is leading at full speed, Thierry Dubois makes repairs after an encounter with a whale and Bruce Schwab's boom has broken
As the Around Alone fleet reach full speed in fresh downwind conditions, Bernard Stamm in Bobst Group Armor Lux is still leading by a margin of over 100 miles. He has about 1,600 miles to go to the finish of the first leg in Torquay and if favourable weather continues he is expected there towards the end of this week.
So good are conditions that Stamm has been thinking of the sort of speeds that make a 24-hour record. For a time he held the monohull record in this boat, also across the Atlantic, though fully crewed. Stamm said yesterday that he had 30 knots from between the west and north-west and was making between 20 and 25 knots boatspeed. He told his shore team to listen to the sound on board – a very distinctive hosing noise as the largely void carbon hull rushes through the water – and said: “it’s making the same noise as it did during the record!” Down below it’s like the New York subway, he says, but up on deck more like a fire hydrant at full blast.
Further back, Thierry Dubois has been jousting with a whale, which hit the rudder and forced him to slow down to make repairs. He’s done the best he can without diving, he says, but now he has to hurry up to avoid being caught in high pressure and, more importantly, to gain the same wind as Bernard Stamm. It’s hard to imagine being 1st on this leg, he admits, but this isn’t bad for a race in which the place counts rather than the distance that separates you from the others.
In Class 2, Brad Van Liew in Tommy Hilfiger is still leading comfortably. Bruce Schwab in Ocean Planet is falling back, however, after breaking his boom while running fast downwind. Schwab’s boat has a different sail plan to most of the fleet, with a much bigger and larger roached mainsail set on a freestanding rig. He is sailing on to Torquay as best he can.