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30 March 2007, 09:37 am
KNOX-JOHNSTON Relinquishes Podium Position
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VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007

At 0545 GMT on Thursday morning Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) relinquished his overall third place podium position to Basque skipper, Unai BASURKO (ESP). As the clocks ticks, each minute that passes will accrue more time that KNOX-JOHNSTON will have to fight for to win back the third place position on the final sprint across the Atlantic back to Bilbao, Spain when the fleet leaves Norfolk, Virginia, USA on the 15 April at 13:00 local time.
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This is the 74th day of the VELUX 5 OCEANS leg 2 for KNOX-JOHNSTON. The same amount of time that it took KNOX-JOHNSTON and the late Sir Peter BLAKE (NZL) to circumnavigate the globe with the successful, fully-crewed maxi-catamaran ENZA in their 1994-95 Jules Verne Trophy attempt. However, he is keen to point out that the two monumental voyages bear no resemblance as ENZA was a fully crewed catamaran and a lot faster.

Leg Takes Its Toll

The victorious record breaking race against the clock 12 years ago was filled with hardship, but the current 14,200 mile stretch from Australia to the USA has taken its toll on KNOX-JOHNSTON, testing his legendary endurance. 'Frankly, this trip has been a bit of a nightmare, to be honest, with things going wrong,' he said. 'I shall be very glad when it's over.'

On his arrival in Norfolk, KNOX-JOHNSTON has a clear plan, 'To just get away from it, to be honest. To walk away from boat and the sea for a few days and try and rekindle my enthusiasm by deprivation.'

The GPS above the chart table onboard SAGA Insurance registered 272 miles to the finish line at 11:00 UTC this morning, but this distance will be covered the hard way. Although he reported big seas and north northwesterly winds reaching 20 knots, SAGA Insurance was on a heading of 299° this morning, punching through the waves southeast of Norfolk, reeling in the miles.

When approaching the finish line, the VELUX 5 OCEANS race leader Bernard STAMM (SUI) on Open 60 Cheminées Poujoulat was running dangerously low on supplies of diesel, vital for his communications, radar and navigation equipment, but careful budgeting by KNOX-JOHNSTON and his team has ensured that SAGA Insurance is well stocked with fuel and food.

Sleep Major Concern

However, a major concern has been a lack of sleep as KNOX-JOHNSTON approaches the busy traffic lanes off the coast of America and he is trying very hard to catch up on his sleep as much as possible. With this immense leg nearing completion, KNOX-JOHNSTON is understandably keen to step ashore and - temporarily - leave the physical demands, stresses and pressures of solo ocean racing behind. This leg has left him utterly exhausted.

Meanwhile in Fortaleza, Brazil, the tenacity and commitment to the race of the remarkable Graham DALTON (NZL) shows no bounds. In a conversation with race director, David ADAMS, DALTON confirmed that the steel cast for the bulb has been constructed and they boat builders will be filling it with molten lead tonight, which should set by Thursday. The bulb will be then re-attached to the keel fin and DALTON thinks he will depart on the Friday as he predicted last week.

DALTON who is sailing around the world in the memory of his son, Tony, who died of cancer has been steadfast and determined in his commitment to complete the course to the extent of re-building a new bulb for his yacht A Southern Man AGD. On arrival into Norfolk the yacht will need to be checked by the race committee, under the auspices of Race Director, ADAMS, in order to ensure that it complies with the class measurement rules and IMOCA safety regulations.

About The Race

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.

For a complete list of all the news about the VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007 CLICK HERE.

Justine Ozoux (As Amended by ISAF), Image, Leg 2 has taken its toll on Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON:© onEdition
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