Another Around Alone skipper will be making a stop for emergency repairs

Unlikely as it seems, the Around Alone race is the talk of the Falkland Islands. Two skippers have already made a pitstop here for repairs, and after help from people in Port Stanley have rejoined the race. Bernard Stamm had some heavy-duty reinforcement of his keel done here and earlier this week Bruce Schwab left the town after five days’ work on his broken boom.

The next lining up for a stop is Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield, who informed the race HQ on Wednesday that a problem had developed with his canting keel.

‘The outer seal of the ram has failed and allowed all fluid to escape from the system. I have locked the keel off on the centerline and am sailing normally under reduced sail area. The keel is an important part of the performance of the boat so as a result I will be sailing much slower than normal.

‘Currently, the Spirit of Canada shore manager is en route to Toronto to pick up replacement parts and then will deliver them to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. I am currrently 200 miles from Cape Horn and once around, will head directly to Port Stanley to repair the ram, probably arriving there in about five days’ time.

‘It will probably take a day or so to do the repair as he ram needs to be removed from the boat. Once repaired, I will depart for Salvador as soon as possible. This leg definitely has been troublesome for us but we are determined to finish the leg and continue in leg five, hopefully fully fit and a lot more competitive.’

This is another huge blow to the talented and highly competitive skipper, who has been trailing the fleet after being forced to return to New Zealand to fix electrical problems. Hatfield is one of the most indomitable of the sailors in Around Alone. After the seal of his daggerboard failed on the previous Southern Ocean leg, he continued for two weeks, handpumping for 20 minutes of every hour.