The race may be over, but determined Kiwi skipper still finishes his Velux journey

Kiwi Velux 5 Oceans skipper Graham Dalton today finished what has been an epic, and sometimes tragic, journey round the globe, arriving into Bilbao at 0315 local time.

Dalton’s journey was plagued by problems, and he was officially ‘out’ of the Velux 5 Oceans race when he failed to make the start line for the final leg within the specified time limit. He continued his journey, though Lady Luck continued to ignore him – on June 15, he reported to Race Director David Adams that he had lost his port rudder.

Racing in memory of his recently deceased son, after whom the yacht – A Southern Man A.G.D – is named, Dalton said of his hard-won triumph:

‘You never give up. I see it as a lack of character. I see it in yachting, I see it in other sports, where someone’s not winning, and because someone’s not winning, they give up. I see it as a heresy; I see it as a lack of backbone. You have to take it on the chin, you have your good days and your bad days.

‘To complete the race is something I’ve wanted to do for 40 years and that I’ve worked towards my entire life. Not just Leg 2, but 40 years. Everything you’ve done in your life has been geared towards this. But these things happen. I’m going to Spain, I’ve said before and I’ll say again, there’ll be snow on the Equator before I give up. I can’t change any administrative decision, that’s a simple fact of life, but what I can change is the way I react to it. The way I react it is we will do what we have to do here, and we will reach Spain.’

The incredible story of Graham Dalton in the VELUX 5 OCEANS:

– December 21, 2005: Son Tony dies of cancer and begins dream of sailing around world solo in new boat

– October 19, 2006: Mast spreaders damaged by storm in Bilbao, causing him to miss race start (Oct 22)

– October 27: Leaves Bilbao one week after the start but avoids the atrocious Bay of Biscay Storm

– November 3: PIT STOP 1: Pulls into Porto Santo to make repairs to rudder

– December 19: PIT STOP 2: Pulls into Kerguelen Islands to re-fuel and repair torn headsail

– December 21: One year anniversary of Tony’s death, alone at sea

– December 24: Runs into largest storm in the race and questions his survival as he is battered by 90 mph winds

– December 25: Christmas alone at sea

– January 2, 2007: FINISH LEG ONE: Arrives fourth in Fremantle and is informed that wife Robbie underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer that she discovered during the first leg

– January 14: Start of leg two from Fremantle to Norfolk

– January 27: PIT STOP 3: Pulls in Bluff (New Zealand) to replace food supplies ruined by diesel leak

– February 13: Breaks two fingers close to where his boom snapped in the Around Alone 2002

– February 21: PIT STOP 4: Pulls into Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, to re-fuel and repair headboard car

– March 14: PIT STOP 5: Damages rudder cassette and arrives in Fortaleza (Brazil)

– March 19: Discovers keel bulb has fallen off, after suffering food poisoning and all electrical and navigational equipment has been stolen, whilst in Fortaleza

– April 4: Leaves Brazil after building a new keel bulb in local yard

– April 19: PIT STOP 6: Pulls into Bermuda after shredding genoa is storm and to repair autopilot system

– April 25: FINISH LEG TWO: Arrives in Norfolk, but too late to start leg three without breaking race rules

– June 1: Departs on spiritual journey from Norfolk destined for Bilbao to complete race course

– June 15: Dalton reports that he has lost his port rudder

– June 18: Arrives in Bilbao

Photo: Luiz Fernando