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Start of the Around Alone Yacht Race


Today twelve men and one women, Emma Richards on Pindar, begin the Around Alone Yacht Race. The route includes five legs: Prologue Race from Newport, Rhode Island to New York City; start in New York City heading to Torbay, England; to Cape Town, South Africa; to Tauranga, New Zealand; to Salvador, Brazil; and then finally back to Newport, Rhode Island around the 14th of April, 2003.

The 13 yachts participating in the Around Alone race have left the dock, each with a tow boat pulling them out to the start area. It was a very emotional scene as families said a last goodbye. Remaining on board with the skippers are a number of the shore team that will help prepare the boat for the race. Half an hour before the start they will be whisked off leaving the skippers alone for the first time.

New York harbor was transformed from a commercial port into a spectacular venue for the start of the 2002/03 Around Alone race. With the tall buildings of lower Manhattan as a backdrop and a moderate 10 to 15 knot southerly wind blowing, the 13 yachts set off for their 27,000 mile voyage around the world.

It was an amazing sight, the yachts looking like giant butterflies as the floated across the harbor. The race organizers can only have been delighted with the way things turned out. Earlier forecasts of Tropical Storm Hanna paying an unwelcome visit did not materialize and the cloud cover lifted just as the start sequence got underway.

As the yachts short tacked out towards the Statue of Liberty, Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada took the lead and clung to it for a few minutes before being overhauled by the larger yachts. First to pass him was Bobst Group Armor Lux skippered by the Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm closely followed by Garnier sailed by Patrick de Radigues. Despite being a lot smaller, Spirit of Canada hung close to the Open 60s before their waterline length gave them an advantage that even the tenacious Hatfeild could not match.

As the first boats approached the Verazanno Narrows bridge fog rolled in and a line of squalls passed overhead. The good weather held just long enough for the fleet to clear the tricky sailing in the channel. Tonight they will be well past Ambrose light sailing along the Long Island coast heading towards England.

For up to date race information, check out

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