Day 36, Saturday October 31, 1998

It was a great day for sailors in Cape Town. First Mike Golding took the first place in Class I, Leg 1, Around Alone Race. Few hours later Isabelle Autissier, the only woman in the race, took second place and just before sunset, Marc Thiercelin crossed the finish line pushed by 45-knot wind and "celebrating" his third place by watching the wind blow off his exhausted mainsail into pieces.

Golding was the first British sailor to win any leg of this race since its start in 1982. His official crossing time was 11:09:44 Greenwich Mean Time. His elapsed time was 34 days, 18 hours, 54 minutes and 44 seconds. He beat the Leg 1 record time, held by Isabelle Autissier from 1994, by 13 hours, 57 minutes and 34 seconds.

BBGolding.jpg (21752 bytes)
Mike Golding Foto Billy Black

Golding had sailed around the world three times. In 1994 he sailed single-handed around the world to beat Sir Chay Blyth's 1971 record. In 1996 he won the BT Global Challenge with an amateur crew, winning five of the six legs. And now he won the first leg of Around Alone.

The last couple of days the sailing had been faster than anyone had expected. Winds had been much stronger than predicted with a small low developing under the Cape. But Golding crossed the finish line on a picture-perfect Cape Town day. When he got close to the finish line, Golding's last hour became typical Table Bay frustration. First, the 20 knots wind from the southwest and then nothing. Then the wind came from nowhere to send him across the finish line.

"I'm over the moon," he said after the finish "To be ahead of Isabelle is just great. I never imagined that straight away we'd be up and running and up to speed so quickly. I think I've been quite fortunate and I've made some good choices. I was in the right place at the end."

"I feel sorry for Marc Thiercelin because he had led for so much of October, and then he had sail damage and dropped back quite badly. But that's part of the game, that is what it's about - keeping the boat together."

FolTeamGroupDra3D.jpg (17585 bytes) Team Group 4

Three weeks before the start, the storm knocked Team Group 4 off her cradle in the shipyard, causing severe damage to the hull and spreaders. But within hours, a new carbon-fiber panel was flown in from the builder in France and the boat was ready for the start.

During the race he had trouble with finding the boat's best point of sail, and finding the right sail combination and configuration for nonstop changing weather conditions. Only days before the finish, he found what might have caused some of his problems. He was towing a 40-foot-long lifting strop around the keel. This could explain some of the strange vibrations and sounds he heard as the boat got close to 20 knots and probably had been causing a loss in boat speed right from the start.

FolTeamGroupAir.jpg (25388 bytes) Team Group 4

Less that three hours later, at 1550 GMT, Isabelle Autissier took the second place by time of 34 days, 21 hours, 35 minutes and 51 seconds. She finished 11 hours, 16 minutes, 17 seconds ahead of the record she set in the 1994-95 BOC Challenge. She stepped on shore to a big welcome from her fans. Golding presented her with a huge bunch of flowers and a big hug.

BBAustissier.jpg (21998 bytes)
Isabele Autissier Foto Billy Black

She said, "It was pretty tough because we were so close. We had to fight every minute." Autissier managed to take a mid-leg lead when she overtook Thiercelin off the coast of Brazil. She got very close to the coast of Brazil, where she did not want to be. She tacked out for one night, and overtook Marc.

She was not surprised by Thiercelin's effort. "He is very good," she said, "He finished second in the last Vendee Globe, he's a really good guy. But his boat was very new and I thought he might have troubles with it, which he has. I was more confident in Marc than in his boat."

FolIsabelePoklopSmall.jpg (27780 bytes)
Isabele Autissier

Early in this race, Autissier suffered a broken tang to the main forestay. She was never far from Thiercelin trading places. The boats were even with hailing distance of each other and Autissier again took over the lead. Eight hours later, Thiercelin was ahead again.

Two days later, as the two lead boats fought for victory, Golding took the leaders by surprise, picked up the lead and held it until his finish 2 hours and 40 minutes ahead of Autissier. Isabelle admitted that Golding has a faster boat, for sure. "But that's normal, it's new." She said. "I had no genoa and I couldn't do anything. He did well when he went south. But after that we had the same wind and he was just going too fast."

BBPRBSail.jpg (20562 bytes) PRB Foto Billy Black

Just before sunset at 1656 GMT, Thiercelin arrived off Cape Town sailing with his full main and two headsails. A little more than five and half-hours after Leg 1 winner Mike Golding, a disappointed Marc Thiercelin arrived in third place. Thiercelin's elapsed time for the leg was 35 days, 00 hours, 41minutes and 10 seconds. But with the addition of a 4 hours, 4 minutes and 4 seconds penalty for a late arrival in Charleston, his official time for the leg was 35 days, 04 hours, 45 minutes, 14 seconds. He still beat Isabelle Leg 1 record of four years ago by 4 hours, 7 minutes and 4 seconds on corrected time.

BBThiercelin.jpg (23340 bytes)
Marc Thiercelin Foto Billy Black

He was doing 22 knots for the last 15 miles when, like Autissier and Golding, he became caught in light wind that slowed him down. When the wind picked up as he crossed the finish line, his mainsail exploded. The temporary patch he had applied several days earlier held right until the end.

Thiercelin took the lead early in the race immediately after Autissier suffered a broken forestay. He was leading the way south, followed by Autissier, Golding and Hall. He held on until Somewhere and PRB made the turn east toward Cape Town. During this time Somewhere suffered severe damage to her mainsail. Thiercelin kept this a secret until Autissier regained the lead.

MSSomewhere2.jpg (15989 bytes) Somewhere Foto Marek Slodownik

Ruined sails were not Thiercelin's only problems. "I had electronic problems that affected my autopilots. One moment everything would be okay, the next the boat would be skimming away on a new course. Then, three days ago, the halyard for my gennaker broke and it went under my boat and around my keel. I had so many things go wrong. I thought I could win this leg, but it wasn't to be. So I want to win one of the next three legs to make up for this voyage," he said.

While the first three skippers arrived safely in Cape Town, Fedor Konioukhov was dealing with major problems north of the equator. Konioukhov's son Oscar wrote, "Last night Fedor called me and told me he has a problem with the keel. The bolts, which are keeping the keel to the bottom of the hull, are not tight. Now, he has some quantity of water coming inside."

BBKonioukhov.jpg (23712 bytes)
Fedor Konioukhov Foto Billy Black

"Fedor tried to tighten them as far as one man in the sea could do and now he's watching the keel," Oscar Konioukhov said. "He told us that he won't go to Brazil to repair his keel, he thinks that as soon as he's headed downwind his keel will have less pressure."

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skiper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Golding

Team Group 4

Cape

Town

0

 

0

 

2

Austisier

PRB

Cape

Town

0

 

0

 

3

Thiercelin

Somewhere

Cape

Town

0

 

0

 

4

Hall

Gartmore

35 06S

010 17E

408.8

9.1

409

2140

5

Soldini

Fila

40 38S

006 52E

683.6

8.7

684

2140

6

Konioukhov

Mod Univ Human

00 58 S

034 55W

3579.6

5.2

3580

2020

7

Reidl

Project Amazon

Retired

         

Class 2

Place

Skiper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Mouligne

Cray Valley

37 43S

007 07W

1260

10.2

0

2144

2

Van Liew

Balance Bar

36 52S

009 29W

1372

9.9

111.9

2144

3

Garside

Magellan Alpha

35 26S

010 41W

1434

11.2

173.8

2144

4

Davie

South Caroline

28 17S

025 38W

2272

3.9

1011.1

2144

5

Stricker

Rapscallion III

25 03S

027 12W

2422

8.2

1161.4

2144

6

Petersen

No Barriers

19 30S

028 56W

2655

6.9

1395

2144

7

Saito

Shuten-dohji

15 59S

031 00W

2863

6.3

1603

2144

8

Yazykov

Wind of Change

12 11S

029 11W

2900

7.6

1639.6

2144

9

Hunter

Paladin II

05 11S

031 25W

3258

6.3

1997.2

2144

Copyright Richard Konkolski
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