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15 February 2007, 05:02 am
SHIRAISHI Rounds The Horn
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VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007

In the early hours of this morning Japan's Kojiro SHIRAISHI and his Open 60 Spirit of Yukoh became the second boat in the VELUX 5 OCEANS to reach Cape Horn. SHIRAISHI rounded the terrifying landmark at approximately 03:00 UTC, putting him around 6 days and 6 hours behind race leader Bernard STAMM (SUI), who made it around at 2130 UTC on 6 February.
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SHIRAISHI's rounding is earlier than expected and at the time he was making 15.7 knots.

An enthusiastic SHIRAISHI reported this morning, 'I have passed Cape Horn! It was stormy weather during the day. In the night I could just make out the Cape by the light of the stars in the sky and see the light of the light house. It looked a real picture. I really want to say thank you to everyone for helping me pass Cape Horn safely.'

Since rounding the Horn the wind has of course dropped off to next to nothing - something that the Japanese skipper says has been a feature of this leg. 'I haven't been lucky with the weather. The wind has either been nothing or gale force or upwind. There hasn't been any stable following winds. I hope that it improves in the Atlantic.'

Quite why it has gone light is a mystery. There is a large depression to his south. It is possible SHIRAISHI is in the wind shadow of the Horn itself now, however most likely it is simply the weather - out to his east the forecast charts are indicating a light patch. While he has been under the influence of the depression his south, SHIRAISHI reports that the wind has been quite shifty. 'The wind is very tricky so I haven't slept well for 48 hours.'

Which Side Of The Falklands?

Spirit of Yukoh has yet to reach Estados Island, which lay 62 miles to his northwest at the time of the 10:20 UTC position update. Once round this, SHIRAISHI needs to decide which side of the Falkland Islands to go, but the forecast indicates that the wind will go light and turn northwesterlies, so it is most likely that he will follow STAMM to the east of the British island group. Unfortunately with this forecast SHIRAISHI says it does not look like he will have much opportunity to catch up on his sleep until he is past the Falkland Islands, still just over a day's sailing away for him.

Action is piping up on Cheminees Poujoulat where now up to the latitude of Uruguay, the Swiss race leader is experiencing southwesterlies winds that are set to build to gale force strength, generated by the depression at present to his northeast. 'I'm in approach of the center of the low pressure,' STAMM wrote earlier. 'The wind is increasing slowly. Normally , I'll be very close to the centre in ten hours. The night is dark like black ink and it begins to be warm. I saw the first flying fish yesterday and it was still an albatross flying around.'

Still with 1,325 miles to go to Cape Horn Unai BASURKO (ESP) on Pakea is holding third place but with only 79 miles separating him from fifth placed Graham DALTON (NZL) on the Open 50 A Southern Man AGD. While DALTON is following in his Spanish rival wake, Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON's (GBR) SAGA Insurance is now 70 miles to the north of BASURKO having put in a gybe yesterday afternoon. According to the forecast charts all three boats are enjoying brisk southwesterly conditions.

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.

VELUX 5 OCEANS (As Amended by ISAF), Image, Kojiro SHIRAISHI celebrates with a traditional gift of sake to the give thanks for a safe passage as he rounds Cape Horn:© Kojiro Shiraishi
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