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16 February 2007, 11:15 am
KNOX-JOHNSTON Storms Into Third Place
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VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007

The close-quarters action in the VELUX 5 OCEANS race is now taking place 660 miles west of Cape Horn. At 19:56 UTC last night, Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) and Open 60 SAGA Insurance moved into third place, overtaking Unai BASURKO (ESP) on Pakea.
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The lead was small, only 2 miles, and with 7,500 miles to the finish line of leg 2, this may seem insignificant, but KNOX-JOHNSTON has piled east, increasing this margin to 41 miles at 05:32 UTC this morning.

Both SAGA Insurance and Pakea are on matching gybes in steady westerly breeze, KNOX-JOHNSTON to the north, sticking close to BASURKO's heading, separated by just 27 miles north-south. Currently, the target for the two skippers is straight line speed and polling 10 knots, KNOX-JOHNSTON's ten year old racing thoroughbred is averaging a knot faster than BASURKO's new yacht.

Off BASURKO's starboard quarter, below 56° South, fifth place Graham DALTON (NZL) is pacing the two larger yachts on Open 50 A Southern Man AGD, keeping the spread between the trio below 70 miles and now trails fourth place BASURKO by just 27 miles. Overnight, DALTON gybed north and is heading up to join the leading pair in this tightly packed trio.

At The Front

In the Atlantic, separated by 1,800 miles, the two front runners remain in headwinds. Race leader, Bernard STAMM (SUI), found a favourable tack overnight ending his journey into the mid-Atlantic and is now heading northwest, 600 miles off Cape Frio, Brazil, 'The ascent of the Atlantic is living up to its reputation,' reported the exhausted skipper at 05:00 UTC this morning, 'I've spent the last 24 hours tacking against a wind coming from exactly where I want to go.'

Keeping Cheminées Poujoulat up to speed in the shifty headwinds meant extended periods on the helm, 'I've hand-steered a lot,' STAMM explained, 'As in these conditions I'm more effective than the autopilot. For 4 or 5 hours non-stop until, finally, I found a good angle.' With great relief, he can now hand the yacht back to the autopilot. 'I've found a direct route, this is my ticket to Recife, if you like.' Now that the yacht is set up on a good heading, in a favourable slot towards the easternmost point of Brazil's Atlantic bulge, STAMM can afford some sleep, 'The breeze has stabilized,' he said, 'And I'm a lot less nervous about the heavy clouds. Finally, I can get some rest.'

In second place, Kojiro SHIRAISHI (JPN) matched STAMM's tack and is heading Spirit of Yukoh northwest 180 miles east of the Falkland Islands, averaging 2 knots slower than his Swiss rival and losing 35 miles to STAMM overnight.

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 and Saga Insurance have moved into third place:© onEdition
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