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28 February 2007, 03:32 pm
Finishes Approaches For STAMM As SHIRAISHI Picks Up The Pace
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VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007

Race leader Bernard STAMM (SUI) is now 600 miles due south of Bermuda, leading the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet by a mighty 2,900 mile margin. His Open 60 Cheminées Poujoulat is averaging 11.5 knots and with just over 1,000 miles to the finish line, the defending champion expects to arrive at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay this weekend.
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The most likely finish day for STAMM looks to be Saturday, with the Swiss skipper set to extend his overall lead ahead of the short sprint third leg back to Bilbao, Spain.

SHIRAISHI On The Move

In second place, sailing parallel to the coast of Brazil, 240 miles offshore, Kojiro SHIRAISHI (JPN) has locked into 17 knot easterly breeze, picking up speed overnight and averaging slightly faster speeds than STAMM during the past six hours. For 12 hours, SHIRAISHI was unable to rest, constantly monitoring Spirit of Yukoh through the equatorial squalls and blazing sun, described as a fiery hot hell.

SHIRAISHI commented, 'It was a tough exhausting night. Since last evening we have had a continuous sequence of squalls with no rest from their attacks. Each starts with a period of no wind building up to a strong gust with waves crashing over the deck. It continued like that until midday today. For the entire 12 hours of squalls I got no rest. So today was another day of punching and our fiery hot hell. But I have been able to keep a great calm on board and a relaxed heart. A great state of spiritual calm. I am now almost used to the terrible heat.'

'The deck, inside the boat and all the foul weather gear is wet through. It's a wet, wet boat. If I can get around the shoulder of Brazil I will be in a following wind and will be able to get the boat dried out. Some good news to report though, I had one long lasting squall with plenty of rain. A great chance to wash the hair. It was the first time in 43 days, a good feeling. My head feels light! There are some squalls we can even give thanks too! From a sparkling clean Skipper… Just a bit more to endure.'

BASURKO Flying

Overnight, third place Unai BASURKO (ESP) has recorded the highest speeds of the fleet at just over 12 knots, taking Pakea east in a northerly breeze, gaining a handful of miles from SHIRAISHI, trailing the Japanese Open 60 by 1,185 miles this morning. Yesterday, BASURKO was keen to leave the challenging conditions of the South Atlantic and connect with the Northeast Trade Winds. Although BASURKO has added 65 miles to his lead over Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) since yesterday afternoon, he is still watching the two back markers closely. However, the 05:32 UTC poll shows that Pakea has extended his lead to 446 miles over fourth place SAGA Insurance.

BASURKO said, 'When this complicated week is out of the way, I believe we will reach the trade winds and everything will go better. It is important to be careful when you look towards the bow too much, you can neglect the stern. I believe that Sir Robin and Dalton are having a pretty big fight, they are close together. It is worrying to me because whenever you are fighting someone, you demand more of yourself and now they are coming fast towards me.'

The two backmarkers have suffered a drop in speed overnight, with fifth place Graham DALTON (NZL) averaging 7.5 knots, 1 knot faster than SAGA Insurance. DALTON's Open 50, A Southern Man AGD, is closest to South America, holding the western position, 600 miles off the Patagonian coast, trailing KNOX-JOHNSTON by 40 miles.

A tired KNOX-JOHNSTON revealed, 'I have now had seven hours sleep in the last 80 hours, it is time to charge my batteries and ignore completely all the various tasks people ashore have sent me. I don't think people appreciate just how much there is to do when single-handing. It's not just sailing the boat and changing sails, much more of that here in the variables, its navigating, studying the weather, thinking about tactics, maintenance, nurse, engineer (not bad), Electrician (not good), electronics (pretty hopeless), communications (humph), cooking (inventive), dealing with endless computer problems (humph), media demands (fine), and somehow, sometime, getting some rest. It's fair to say I chose to do this, but shore-based 9-5 peoples expectations may have to suffer a bit for a while.'

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.

Tim Kelly (As Amended by ISAF), Image, Kojiro SHIRAISHI looks out to the coast of Brazil:© Kojiro Shiraishi
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