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22 February 2007, 10:30 am
STAMM Crosses Equator Into North Atlantic
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VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007

At 05:00 UTC this morning, VELUX 5 OCEANS race leader Bernard STAMM (SUI) crossed the Equator and entered the North Atlantic after an exhausting period in the Doldrums: 'Today, I spoke to my ship,' said STAMM this morning, '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'.'
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With 3,123 miles remaining until the finish line in Norfolk, STAMM is keen to remain on good terms with his beloved boat, 'To finish the leg, it remains two weeks to spend together,' he continued, 'And it is better if it should be friendly.'

Positioned 480 miles off the mouth of the River Amazon, STAMM is unsure whether he has left the 'Pot au Noir' astern, 'The wind slowly came,' he explained, 'OK, I still had to set the right sails on, but after I could sleep a little bit and now it is much better. I don't know if I'm out of the Doldrums, but the wind blows quite regular and the sky is not so dark anymore.'

The 05:32 UTC position poll shows STAMM may have already connected with the Northeast Trade Winds, allowing the Swiss skipper to free up and take his Open 60 northwest, gradually gathering speed and averaging 14 knots over the last six hours.

Bad News For SHIRAISHI

While STAMM enjoys reaching conditions, the rest of the fleet are tasting South Atlantic headwinds. Kojiro SHIRAISHI (JPN) in second place, 1,939 miles south of STAMM, foresees the end of a brief reaching spell onboard Spirit of Yukoh, 'In complete contrast to yesterday, the weather is atrocious. The wind is blowing abeam, but it feels like I'm sailing 45 degrees upwind,' he reported earlier.

SHIRAISHI has assessed the weather conditions ahead and the prognosis is not bright, 'It looks like a hard slog upwind. Constantly tacking upwind to travel north,' he explained. Sailing into headwinds is SHIRAISHI's least favourite point of sail, 'As the boat punches through the waves, it really feels like 'bang-bang-sailing' and the deck is being washed very hard.'

This race is the Japanese skipper's first circumnavigation in an Open 60, a vast improvement on his 40 footer raced in the 2002-03 edition of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. 'Both the power and the stability of the 60 foot boat are awesome,' he said this morning, 'My last boat gave me such a problem that I even made a poem entitled: 'My Life Equates to Punching'.'

Unai BASURKO (ESP) in third place is suffering badly as north northwesterly winds have forced him onto port tack, taking Pakea away from the coast of Brazil, halting his ascent through the South Atlantic. BASURKO has lost 87 miles to SHIRAISHI since yesterday afternoon, extending the deficit to 1,159 miles.

KNOX-JOHNSTON Back On The Course

Trailing BASURKO by 428 miles this morning, Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) has taken 87 miles from the Basque solo sailor overnight, averaging 11.7 knots during the past six hours; almost twice the speed of Pakea. Shortly after rounding Cape Horn, BASURKO spoke of the forthcoming, South Atlantic battle with KNOX-JOHNSTON, 'I will tell him that I will not be the 'Elephant of The Pacific' again. I will be the hare, instead.' However, enjoying stronger breeze than her Spanish rival, SAGA Insurance is heading northeast in around 21 knots from north northwest.

KNOX-JOHNSTON's current heading suggests that he will leave the Falkland Islands to port, passing close to Port Stanley where fourth place Graham DALTON (NZL) continues to make repairs to Open 50 A Southern Man AGD, just 138 miles from SAGA Insurance.

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, Bernard STAMM is back in the North Atlantic:© Bernard Stamm
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