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Dalton to continue despite damage

Dalton aims to continue leg four after repairs are completed.
Dalton aims to continue leg four after repairs are completed.

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TAURANGA, New Zealand -- Kiwi solo sailor Graham Dalton says he is down but not out after his mast came crashing down during the Around Alone race.

Sailing Hexagon, Dalton had to stop for repairs in Argentina after the boom broke when rounding Cape Horn in leg four of the circumnavigation.

His shore team would consider getting a new mast to him to complete the leg to San Salvador, Brazil and make the restart for the final leg to Newport, Rhode Island, U.S. on April 13.

"I am determined to carry on with the race. It was my dream to race single-handed around the world and I am not going to allow circumstances to stop me from achieving this ambition," said Dalton.

The accident prompted race officials to call the nearest competitor to assist Hexagon, but Dalton managed to cut the broken mast from the boat to avoid further damage.

Dalton said he was below deck when the autopilot lost control of the boat in 35 knots of wind.

"The mast broke into three pieces and fell over the side of the boat. As all of this happened, the wind suddenly increased to 50 knots, and the mast broke further into four pieces," Dalton said in a call to race headquarters.

"There was white water all around. The ocean surrounding Hexagon was covered in breaking waves and lying right next to her was the mast, still attached to the boat by its rigging and banging against the hull."

He winched the largest piece of the mast back on board and tied it down, but then a massive wave broke across the boat, sweeping the mast back into the water.

However, Dalton managed to cut away the broken mast and was motoring to Mar del Plata in Argentina 650 miles away.

It was the second time that Dalton has lost his carbon rig -- the first time was during his transatlantic delivery from the UK prior to the start in New York.

The small fleet of solo sailors have really taken a bashing over the last week. Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm, who won the first three legs and has a three point lead, stopped in the Falkland Islands for 22 hours to make repairs to his canting keel, relinquishing the lead to French skipper Thierry Dubois in Solidaires.

Stamm rejoined the race 30 miles behind Dubois and, although, he might regain the lead, has little chance of winning the leg as he faces an automatic 48-hour time penalty for receiving outside assistance.

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