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Hard-luck sailor soldiers on

MARCH 21 — A New Zealand skipper’s recent string of misfortune continued off Brazil this week, during Leg 3 of the Velux 5 Oceans Race, when the keel bulb fell off his Open 50 sail-racing yacht, named A Southern Man-AGD.

“I think my bulb has gone. It was blowing 8 knots and the boat fell over and I tried to cant the keel and I couldn’t see it,” Graham Dalton, 53, explains in a news release. “So I dived down, the visibility was exceedingly poor, but I could see that the bulb was gone.”

Dalton, the older brother of Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton, says the keel bulb may have become separated from his boat in Fortaleza (Brazil) Harbor, according to information on the race Web site. A team of divers was scouring the bottom of the harbor for the missing keel bulb.

Dalton noticed that the keel bulb was missing Monday only a few miles off Fortaleza, the news release says. Dalton had stopped in the Brazilian port to repair his rudder after a nighttime collision with a seal, news reports say. While on the hard, the Kiwi reportedly became severely sick. He suffered further setback when he discovered that all of his communication equipment — including GPS, laptop computers and hand held satellite phones — had been stolen from his unattended yacht.

As of Tuesday A Southern Man-AGD was in last place in the third and final leg of the race from Norfolk, Va., to Bilbao, Spain, the news release says. Dalton had returned to Fortaleza, and it was not clear whether or not he would continue the race.

Formerly known as the Around Alone and the BOC Challenge, the Velux 5 Oceans Race is the oldest single-handed round-the-world yacht race, according to organizers. This year the race started in and will end in Bilbao, with stopovers in Fremantle, Australia, and Norfolk.

Jason Fell