Whilst Bernard STAMM (SUI) and Kojiro SHIRAISHI (JPN) have enjoyed well over a month of preparation time in Fremantle, Western Australia, skippers such as Graham DALTON (NZL) and Unai BASURKO (ESP) have had less than two weeks to prepare their yachts for the extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean. During the stopover, all the boats have come out the water and taken out their masts to ensure that everything is repaired and primed.
As the clock ticks down towards 15:00 local time on Sunday when the start gun fires and the fleet crosses the start line off Fremantle, the skippers have begun to prepare mentally, physically and emotionally for the challenges that lie ahead as they look east towards Cape Horn. However, before the intensity of racing recommences, Friday night saw the VELUX 5 OCEANS celebrate the achievements of the exciting first leg at a special prizegiving ceremony hosted by Western Australia at the Fremantle Maritime Museum. Skippers, families, shore teams, sponsors, organisers and friends of the race all joined together for evening to applaud the efforts and accomplishments since the fleet left Bilbao in October 2006.
The race organizers and sponsors will award prizes after each leg for the 'Leg winner', for 'Seamanship' and for 'Media Contribution'. At the end of the race in Bilbao, the overall winner on elapsed time will collect the VELUX 5 OCEANS Race Trophy. Skippers will also accumulate points for seamanship and media contribution throughout the legs and in Bilbao overall winners will be chosen on merit. The winner of the media contribution award for the race will collect EUR 5,000 for their efforts, whilst the overall winner for seamanship throughout the race will receive the Shuten-dohji II Trophy.
STAMM collected the VELUX leg trophy as winner of leg 1 after completing an historic victory and enduring one of the toughest sailing experiences in his career. The result in leg 1 is a testament to the Swiss skipper's skill, tenacity and determination, affirming him as one of the top solo sailors in the world. STAMM managed to survive the incredible storm off Cape Finisterre and pushed ahead of the fleet, battling through torrid and icy conditions in the Southern Ocean with no thermal clothing onboard. The defending champion was forced to climb the mast three times alone at sea and two days before arriving in Fremantle STAMM encountered savage conditions worse than the storm in the Bay of Biscay and ran out of food before finally arriving in Fremantle with a lead of three days over rival SHIRAISHI.
The VELUX leg trophy exactly tells the story about the challenges the skippers battle against in the race as well as showing the route around the world that the skipper have to sail. It tells the story about one man's battle against the elements and celebrates the beauty of the race by using hard windows glass together with warm copper markings and burnishing which shows the route of the race. Early spring 2006, the Danish artist and designer Bettina SCHORI, accepted the assignment to create a trophy for the skippers who win the leg in the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The last couple of months she has been working intensively on the assignment in her studio in Copenhagen.
The Seamanship Award was won by Mike GOLDING (GBR) for his heroic efforts in rescuing Alex THOMSON (GBR) from Hugo Boss. THOMSON, who took the decision to abandon his yacht in the Southern Ocean, 1,000 miles from Cape Town, after suffering severe and irreparable damage to his canting keel system. GOLDING, who was close to 100 miles upwind of THOMSON, did not hesitate to turn his boat back into 30 knots and big seas. Despite numerous problems onboard Ecover, which hampered his movement, GOLDING completed a dramatic rescue and saved THOMSON from his life raft. Sadly, only hours after the rescue, Ecover's mast broke and after limping to Cape Town, GOLDING was forced to retire.
The Media Contribution Award was collected by Japanese skipper SHIRAISHI. The winner was judged on a number of criteria, evaluating the quantitative and qualitative output from the skippers with respect to video, photographic images, written reports and audio interviews. SHIRAISHI, who has consistently delivered engaging and compelling media content, has become a huge star in Japan. Twice a week, SHIRAISHI talks live to the morning show on Fuji TV for ten minutes, regularly delaying the morning news.
The first leg of the VELUX 5 OCEANS started on 22 October from Bilbao, Spain. Six international skippers crossed the start line in the Bay of Biscay bound for Fremantle, Western Australia. The leg is expected to take approximately six weeks with the first boat arriving in Australia around the first week in December.
The VELUX 5 OCEANS is the longest race for any individual in any sport. Over the first few days, the fleet will make their way along the northern coast of Spain to Cape Finistère where they will turn south towards the Southern Ocean. However, all of the skippers know that this race is a marathon and not a sprint. During the 30,000 miles sailed in the VELUX 5 OCEANS race, the yachts will encounter some of the most extreme sea and weather conditions on the planet.
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