As he promised, Dalton finishes

Sailing

June 19, 2007|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN REPORTER

Let the record show, no snow fell on the Equator yesterday. New Zealand sailor Graham Dalton finished his eight-month solo voyage around the planet, a trip that relied heavily on pluck rather than luck.

Dalton arrived in Bilboa, Spain, about 9 a.m. EDT, a month after the winner of the Velux 5 Oceans race crossed the finish line. Although he was disqualified in Norfolk, Va., for falling behind the race schedule, Dalton vowed to press on to keep his promise to his late son Anthony Graham Dalton, who died of cancer in 2005.

"There'll be snow on the Equator before I give up," he said.

His 50-foot boat - the smallest in the Velux fleet - was named A Southern Man-AGD after his son and had his photo on the bow.

Dalton, 54, the older brother of America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race skipper Grant Dalton, faced numerous physical and equipment problems during the race. He almost drowned in a massive storm on Christmas Eve, broke fingers and suffered food poisoning. His boat was rocked by damage to its rudders and sails, and the keel bulb fell off in March off the coast of Brazil. As he awaited repairs, bandits stripped his boat of all electronic and personal gear.

His wife, Robbie, was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy while he was at sea.

Even the last leg, which started in Norfolk, Va., on June 1, was not without peril. Two days before reaching the finish line, Dalton reported he had lost his port rudder.

But he refused assistance.

"You never give up," Dalton said before leaving Norfolk. "The only difference between me and some other people is I have a fire in my belly. You can knock me down a thousand times, but I'm going to get up 1,001."

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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