For STAMM, this morning some 900 miles east of Buenos Aires, this has yet to happen, but to achieve this the Swiss race leader has had to sail a circuitous route around a giant area of high pressure currently to his east. On Friday the forecast indicated that this high would move east and STAMM would be able to slip by without being engulfed by its light or non-existent winds. This morning the forecast is looking even more favourable for STAMM with the high set to move in a more southeasterly direction thanks to a depression that has formed off the Brazilian coast. As he passes into the northeastern quadrant of the high he is waiting for the wind to shift from the southwest to the southeast enabling him to sail a more direct route north. With the formation of the depression STAMM says he is expecting the wind to build too.
It is looking highly possible that STAMM, who has had the luck of the Gods weather-wise this leg, may be able to make it all the way up to Recife, the easternmost part of Brazil with favourable following winds.
Exciting times for Japan's Kojiro SHIRAISHI on board second placed Spirit of Yukoh. Over the weekend he has not only been able to make a 40 mile in road into STAMM's 1,700 mile lead, but he is now rapidly approaching Cape Horn, the famous landmark that marks the beginning of the home straight for competitors. This morning the Horn remains 323 miles away and so SHIRAISHI can expect to be round and into the Atlantic some time on Tuesday afternoon. His rounding should be a lively one. At present the forecast charts have him being chased by a Southern Ocean depression and this is set to close on him as he approaches the Horn bringing gale force winds.
If the separation between the first three boats in the VELUX 5 OCEANS is enormous, this is not true of boats the last three boats, who now have just 80 miles between them. All three are now past the western end of the second ice waygate some 1,680 miles to the west of Cape Horn. Still in third place, Unai BASURKO (ESP) passed the imaginary mark at 52degS 115degW at around 16:00 UTC yesterday and was followed by Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) on SAGA Insurance at around 20:00 UTC and finally by Graham DALTON (NZL) on A Southern Man AGD at around midnight.
Aside from being close, a significant development over the weekend has been in KNOX-JOHNSTON taking fourth place off DALTON. The British sailing legend has been taking a more northerly track east to his rivals. The boats continue to sail in considerable wind albeit from the west, the isobars squeezed up between a massive high pressure system to their north and a depression to their south. These conditions look set for the next few days, although the high is forecast to move south causing the wind to back to the southwest, making for a fast reach for the skippers towards the Horn.
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.
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