After 85 days at sea, Kiwi skipper determined to finish Leg 2

Having restarted leg 2 of the Velux 5 Oceans from Brazil a week ago, ill-fated Kiwi skipper Graham Dalton is still going strong. After a total of 85 days at sea, Dalton and his Open 50 A Southern Man are heading north towards the finish line of Leg 2 in Norfolk, Virginia. The latest position poll shows Dalton is 300 miles east of Barbados, the easternmost of the Caribbean’s Leeward Island chain.

While the Kiwi skipper fought a string of potentially catastrophic setbacks in Brazil, including losing his keel bulb, he watched Unai Basurko cross the finish line in third place after 68 days at sea and his rival, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on SAGA Insurance, overtake him, sailing north to finish Leg 2 after 75 days. For many ocean racing yachtsmen these events would have been demoralising: Dalton, however, feeds off adversity.

In a satellite call to the race organisation yesterday morning, he was defiant: ‘The prospects are good,’ he said. ‘I’m expecting to be in the next leg and I fully expect to be on the finish line’. The tough skipper is pushing his Open 50 hard in an attempt to finish Leg 2 by the cut-off date of 19th April in order to qualify for racing in the final leg from America to Bilbao, Spain. The race rules stipulate that a competitor must spend a minimum of 72 hours in a stop-over port between legs. In addition, A Southern Man must start the final leg by the 22nd April, within a week of the official start of Leg 3 on Sunday 15th. If Dalton can maintain his current daily average of 252 miles, A Southern Man will reach Norfolk two days ahead of the deadline. The low-pressure system building energy over mainland America could make this margin considerably tighter or unachievable. The next few days will be critical.