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19 February 2007, 09:52 am
KNOX-JOHNSTON Under Tow; Back Three Round The Horn
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VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007

All the competitors in the VELUX 5 OCEANS have now rounded Cape Horn. Of the back three, Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON's (GBR) was first round although his joy was short-lived as he celebrated in the same way as he did in 1969. He is currently under tow down the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia to make crucial repairs to SAGA Insurance and will sit out a second 48-hour penalty.
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As with his last pit stop, KNOX-JOHNSTON hopes to be able to make up the time and catch the fleet in the remaining 7,000 miles of the VELUX 5 OCEANS race.

Sunday was a tense day for Team SAGA Insurance as they waited for news from KNOX-JOHNSTON, who rounded Cape Horn in strong winds gusting at 40 knots.

Massive Milestone

KNOX-JOHNSTON stayed in regular contact throughout the day with email updates. Cape Horn is an enormous milestone both physically and mentally and represents a small private members club that only sailors that have first sailed round the bottom of the world can belong to. Not only did KNOX-JOHNSTON have to round the Horn yesterday, but he also had to rendezvous with a local team south of the Beagle Channel in gale force winds.

Simon CLAY, KNOX-JOHNSTON's shore team, flew to Ushuaia, Argentina to join him and had the panic of arriving in Buenos Aires only to discover that all the entire flight's baggage had been left in Madrid, including all the boat spares. The team would like to thank SAGA Insurance for their sterling efforts (over Saturday night) of using their travel contacts in Argentina to help rescue the parts, which have now thankfully made it to Ushuaia.

Yesterday morning was the first time KNOX-JOHNSTON had seen another boat for many weeks. 'A ship passed just now, tried calling, no response. Sixteen miles to Diego Ramirez Isles, wind building, glad I got some southing in overnight. Well done with chasing up the parts. We never expected this sort of challenge, the elements are enough, but when the going gets tough....'

At 1030 yesterday morning KNOX-JOHNSTON enjoyed his first glimpse of land: 'Land Ho! That is a headland. Diego Ramirez Isles at 13 miles and where they should be so the GPS is almost as good as a sextant! Cape Horn 65 miles to ENE. RKJ'

And six hours later he rounded the Horn: 'Yipeeee! 16:26 GMT Sunday 18 February 2007, Cape Horn bearing north at 8.2 miles. Major Headland declared. Cut Aileen's cake, delicious. Lit Sharpey's large cigar. RKJ'

History Repeating

37 years ago, when KNOX-JOHNSTON rounded the Horn on the 17January 1969, his log book read 'Yippee!!!' Later in his book (A World of My Own) he wrote, 'We've passed it!!! Spliced the mainbrace and broke out Aunt Aileen's fruitcake. I carefully removed the foil wrapping and the aroma hit me. The flavour and taste are even better than the smell. I've cut a reasonable slice, as I'll make it last a bit if I can. It has withstood over seven months in its tin magnificently. To add to my pleasure there is a piece of The Times in the tin so I have something new to read as well.'

His now 100 year old Aunt Aileen and 85 year old sister Maureen made him another fruit cake and wrapped it in a page from The Times once again. When Aileen was asked if she worried about her young whipper-snapper of a nephew being at sea again, she answered, 'No! He said he was going to get it done, so I just expect him to get out there and get it done!'

And the latest contact with the British team was confirmation that KNOX-JOHNSTON has officially suspended racing and is en route to Ushuaia, 'Engine started at

21:46 in Posn 55 08.2S 066 28.6W Tow taken at 24:00 off Picton Island. RKJ'

The tow to Ushuaia will take approximately 8-10 hours where SAGA Insurance will be met by CLAY and he can get to work on fixing several problems, not least the system that allows KNOX-JOHNSTON to download weather information and the issues with the mainsail. Both these repairs alone will ensure that this pit stop is an efficient one enabling KNOX-JOHNSTON to race more competitively in the remaining 7,000 Atlantic miles of the leg.

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.

Sophy Williams (As Amended by ISAF), Image, Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON and SAGA Insurance are under tow:© onEdition
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