This evening, Roman Paszke and his crew comprising Dariusz Drapella, Wojtek
Dlugozima, Robert Janecki, Zbigniew Gutkowski, Mariusz Pirjanowicz, Jaroslaw
Kaczorowski, crossed the finishing line of The Race, outside the official time limit.
Warta Polpharma, the Polish catamaran, left Barcelona on 31st December 2000 at
14h00 and has therefore taken just under 100 days to complete her circumnavigation :
99 days 12 hours 31 minutes
This is the second time round for this Ollier-designed cat which was built by the
Multiplast yard at the end of 1986/beginning of 1987. In 1993, with Bruno Peyron at the
helm, she was the first multihull to sail round the world in under 80 days.
Warta Polpharma was forced to make a pit-stop in Fortaleza in Brazil between 22nd and
24th March to make repairs to her cracked portside hull. That put paid to any chance of
her finishing the race within the official time limit (30 days after the arrival of the first boat,
Club Med, i.e. by the 2nd April 2001). Two crew members disembarked on that occasion
for health reasons, namely Richard Block and Piotr Cichocki. The damage sustained to
Warta Polpharma could have given Team Legato the chance to cross the line ahead of
the Poles but the British boat ran into technical problems with her mast step, forcing her
to divert to the Canary Islands and wave goodbye to any chance of pipping the Poles at
the post. And so the story draws to a close. Throughout the race, in spite of a modest
budget and a technical environment which was not much of a match for some of the
others, the crew have always shown their unfailing good nature and experiencing the
simple pleasure of sailing. Even at the toughest times, when faced with arduous
conditions, just after Cape Horn for example, or when the hull was damaged - the sort of
incident which might very well have forced them to abandon ship, not only did the crew
act as the truly experienced professionals they are, in full control of the situation, they
also demonstrated the sort of fine philosophy which commands admiration and respect.
A strong Polish delegation was there to welcome the national heroes. Sponsors,
families, friends or supporters who have made the journey specially from Poland,
together with Poles living in Marseille, all of whom were proud to fly the white and red
Polish flag. Meanwhile, 750 miles from Marseille, head to wind, Team Legato is still
making little headway on her way up the coast of Africa. She hopes to cross the Strait of
Gibraltar at the end of the day. She is not now expected to arrive in Marseille before the
end of the week. In a message received this morning, Tony Bullimore expressed his
great disappointment at not having had the chance to battle it out with Warta Polpharma
in the Mediterranean not to mention having been deprived of the chance to beat them!
Never the less, he is grateful to his boat for her fine qualities of sturdiness and reliability,
the only problems which they had with her at all having arisen on new parts, not on the
boat herself. The last days of the race could turn out to be long ones for Team Legato as
it looks as though they are going to have nothing but light air ahead once they make it
through the Strait of Gibraltar.