Graham Dalton confounds Around Alone pundits with his quest for 3rd place, Stamm has power problems and Derek Hatfield is putting in a remarkable performance in his 40-footer

A tussle for 3rd place is developing between Graham Dalton and Simone Bianchetti in the middle of Class 1 of Around Alone. Dalton, the mystery man of the fleet and considered the joker in the pack, is sailing a race to be proud of and one that will make pundits who dismissed his chances do a double take.

As of this morning, there was only 10 miles separating the two, with about 650 miles to go. Dalton had edged Hexagon ahead during the night only to be overtaken again as he and Bianchetti played a game of cat and mouse. For Dalton it has been hard work and he admits that he has pushed Hexagon despite problems with his wind instruments. As usual, though, the effort didn’t prevent him sending a lucid and informative daily report.

‘Over the last 12 hours, I have experienced a steady south-south-easterly breeze of about 20 knots. Consequently, the sea is quite lumpy at times.

‘Although I’m having slight problems with my wind instruments, I am pushing the boat really hard in an attempt to get maximum boat speed. I’ve been working a lot on deck, changing headsails, checking equipment and making minor repairs when needed. It is great to see Hexagon performing so well, just when I need her to,’ he reports.

Another mini contest looks as if it is developing between Patrick de Radrigues and Emma Richards; there is just 30 miles between them. No news from either today, though.

At the head of the fleet, Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group Armor Lux still has the advantage but is experiencing power problems. A fault with the engine is forcing him to conserve the remaining power for his autopilots – so no more communication from him.

Stamm nevertheless managed to extend his lead over 2nd placed Thierry Dubois overnight, but these two are on the run in to the Western Approaches, where heavy shipping and tides will make tactics very much trickier. Stamm anticipates having to cross a zone of calms today in order to reach stronger winds.

Brad Van Liew is still in charge of Class 2 and with a lead of nearly 500 miles only gear failure can steal 1st place from him. Behind him, however, Derek Hatfield is putting in one of the most remarkable performances of the race. Sailing the Open 40 he built over the last five years, he is not only trouncing the other two 40s but the Open 50s as well. His latest report best sums up why these sailors are doing the race, particularly the amateurs of Class 2. It’s hard not to read it and envy him the experience.

‘Here we are at 47 04′ N, 040 50’ W, mid North Atlantic. It was pointed out to me yesterday that I am actually 4 degrees of latitude higher than the Titanic.

‘The day is beautiful, a Canadian fall day. The sun is shining very brightly and it is crispy clear. The wind is blowing a cold 17 knots from the north, the sky is bright blue, the ocean is almost purple, the seas are relatively flat at 3 feet.’

‘Spirit of Canada is fully powered up and going upwind at 9.5 knots with two reefs in the mainsail and small jib. Clear, sparkling water comes tumbling down the deck ever few minutes and fills the cockpit. It is quite cold. I sit at the rail with the autopilot steering the boat, in wonder at how this machine goes like this with just the power of the wind. This is why I come out here. Wish you all could be here to see it too.’