Bernard Stamm finds the horsepower to pip his Around Alone rival to the post, but a penalty makes it all to play for

Even a 24-hour stop in the Falklands couldn’t stop him. Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm made it four wins in a row in Around Alone this morning when he crossed the line at Salvador da Bahia in Brazil a few hours ahead of his nearest rival, Thierry Dubois.

Stamm had been forced to stop for repairs in Port Stanley to reinforce the top of his keel, which split as the boat fell of a large wave close to Cape Horn. This allowed Dubois to get ahead for the first time in this race. However, Stamm came back fighting and in the week since has steadily whittled down that lead. Overnight last night, he finally worked ahead to repeat the story of invincibility.

Bernard Stamm’s line honours doesn’t entitle him to 1st place on this leg, however, as he has to bear a 48-hour penalty for outside assistance. This time 1st place belongs to Thierry Dubois. What matters most now, though, is the finishing times of Simone Bianchetti and Emma Richards, lying 3rd and 4th with under 500 miles to Salvador. If they finish within 48 hours – in other words before Stamm’s penalty time – Dubois and Stamm will start the final leg on equal points, with everything to race for on the last ‘sprint’ to Newport.

Unfortunately for Emma, her ‘turbo catch-up’ has turned into a turbo slow-down. She has fallen into light winds again and slipped further behind the Italian skipper. Last week the two were almost within sight of each other, but they took different views of the forecast area of high pressure and Emma has lost out by 120 miles. So she has her own worries about overall points, as she explained yesterday:

‘A 650-mile beat home – that’s one Fastnet Race. If I had one wish it would be for either a very fast finish, so that I am not more than 48 hours after Bernard, or a slow finish so that neither Simone or myself beat Bernard.

‘If a point separates the two of us, that puts a lot more pressure on our final leg . . . I am trying not to think too hard about that, but a few hours here could make a massive difference. So, back to the helm.

‘Em x’