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23 February 2007, 03:39 pm
Morale Boast As KNOX-JOHNSTON Moves Into Fourth
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VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007

SAGA Insurance has sailed passed Port Stanley and back into fourth place with a 45 mile lead this morning. Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) is now just 372 miles behind third placed Unai BASURKO (ESP) having already gained 128 miles since re-starting the race near Ushuaia.
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BASURKO is struggling with northerly headwinds and averaged only 1.2 knots in the last few hours of the VELUX 5 OCEANS race. KNOX-JOHNSTON is also being affected by the light winds, which are forecast for some time. The traditional Atlantic snakes and ladders game begins as gains and losses are made due to constantly fluctuating conditions.

At 15:00 UTC yesterday KNOX-JOHNSTON received a visit from the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Edinburgh, a batch 3 type 42 Destroyer, which was patrolling the Falkland Islands. The rendezvous took place within 10 miles of Sea Lion Island, off the southeastern corner of the Falklands when HMS Edinburgh launched a RIB and a Lynx helicopter and passed KNOX-JOHNSTON to leeward.

KNOX-JOHNSTON revealed. 'It was a nice example of professionalism. Cdr Scott Verney RN and the ships company are to be congratulated. He kindly offered to send over a bottle of whisky but cognisant of our strict Race Committee, and that someone might protest as it would have been good for my morale, which it certainly would have been, I had to decline, but he says he'll keep it in his cabin until we meet again, now there is an Officer and a Gentleman! They certainly brightened my day. They are probably the last people I will see for a month.'

STAMM Still Pulling Away

Bernard STAMM (SUI), the VELUX 5 OCEANS race leader, continues to reach northwest through the North Atlantic, sailing parallel to the coast of South America. Sitting firmly in the North East Trade Winds, Swiss Open 60, Cheminées Poujoulat has maintained a speed of just above 13 knots over the past 24 hours; almost double the most recent fleet average.

At 05:00 UTC yesterday morning, STAMM crossed the Equator and entered the North Atlantic after an exhausting period in the Doldrums. Onboard the unstoppable STAMM is still suffering without his watermaker, an essential piece of equipment, which turns seawater into drinking water. But ever the stoical, enduring solo pragmatist he is making the most of the erratic Doldrums conditions and is collecting fresh rain water to see him through.

STAMM said, 'Today, I spoke to my ship, I told Cheminées Poujoulat, we cannot continue like this. I need to take some rest. To sleep, even one hour, but a little bit of rest, otherwise we'll not be friends anymore. To finish the leg, it remains two weeks to spend together and it is better if it should be friendly.'

Down In The Doldrums

The Doldrums or the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is a belt of low pressure around Earth at the equator. It is created by the vertical rise of warm, moist air from the latitudes above and beneath the equator. The moist atmosphere and heat combined mean that it rains for more than 200 days a year and thunderstorms are very common feature. However, within the ITCZ the normal winds are slight and early sailors called this wet desert of calm the doldrums because of the low spirits they found themselves in after days of no wind. To find oneself becalmed in this region in a hot and muggy climate could mean death in an era when wind was the only major motive force. Nowadays, fortunately, it just tends to make them irritable and depressed.

It has been a dreary day for second place for a despondent Kojiro SHIRAISHI (JPN), who is boiling down below in the sweltering heat and light airs of the Doldrums, is extremely frustrated that the light wind is coming head on from the direction he wants to sail in. During this northeasterly nightmare, SHIRAISHI has dropped 47 miles to the race leader overnight and Spirit Of Yukoh now trails Cheminées Poujoulat by 2,100 miles. For SHIRAISHI, the immediate future is bleak and he anticipates he will be struggling all the way to Rio de Janeiro.

In light airs with the relentless equatorial sun preventing any extended period on deck, SHIRAISHI was feeling heat as he ran the yacht's diesel as temperatures soared onboard. Despite this obvious discomfort and the prospect of slow progress upwind, he still managed to congratulate race leader STAMM, over 2,000 miles to the north for crossing the equator.

In third place, 1,180 miles behind Spirit of Yukoh, Basque solo sailor, BASURKO is struggling with northerly headwinds, north of the Falkland Islands. BASURKO has elected to take Pakea away from land, flat-lining east into the South Atlantic on port tack.

Graham DALTON's (NZL) vital pit stop has incurred a 48 hour time penalty but at 10:20 UTC today resumed racing as he takes his place at the back of the fleet. But difficult conditions for PAKEA and SAGA INSURANCE are hampering both boats as they record a dramatic drop in speed and so, as A SOUTHERN MAN - AGD re-joins the tournament, there is everything to play for.

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, Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON has moved back into fourth place:© onEdition
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