First keel, now autopilot problems for Kiwi skipper

Graham Dalton seems to be facing one issue after another. Having finally managed to reconstruct a new keel bulb for his boat,A Southern Manand successfully re-attached it to the keel fin, disaster struck once again.

The rudder reference unit that is connected to Dalton’s autopilots blew up when he was out testing the boat. He cannot leave Fortaleza, Brasil without fixing this vital piece of kit. Arriving into Norfolk, race leader Bernard Stamm noted that, for single-handed sailors, a reliable autopilot was the most essential piece of kit: ‘ A broken watermaker is not a problem, but losing your pilots now that is like losing your crew.’ Dalton, ever optimistic, confidently told race director David Adams that he will fix the problem and he will be leaving tomorrrow.

However optimistic a front he portrays to the world, the nightmare continues for Dalton as his chances of remaining in the competition are dimishing by the hour. He must be ready to leave Norfolk, Virginia, USA at 1300 on the 22nd April having completed a mandatory stopover of 72 hours in the Virginian host port in order for him to be able to carry on in the competition which means he must arrive in Norfolk by the 19th April. This leaves him only 14 days to complete the 3000 mile journey, requiring an average speed of 9 knots. There’s no margin for error left for Dalton’s Velux dreams.