The chasing pack continue to compress despite gale force winds. In fourth place, Graham DALTON (NZL) is southernmost of the back three at 52° South with A Southern Man - AGD and reported 45 knots earlier this morning.
'Fairly willing down here at present,' the Kiwi skipper commented. DALTON has gained 10 miles on third place Unai BASURKO (ESP) since yesterday afternoon and now trails the Basque skipper of Pakea by just 68 miles. A Southern Man - ADG is 94 miles further south than Pakea and 149 miles south of Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) on SAGA Insurance and DALTON issued a warning for the two boats in the north, 'They're going to get a wake up call shortly on their 'tropical route''.
KNOX-JOHNSTON was feeling the full impact of this forecast storm, 'A day of strong winds, Force 6-7 [22-33 mph], and a large southwesterly swell,' he said last night. 'Another front will come over tonight with 35 knots of wind [Force 8] according to the Kiwi forecast,' KNOX-JOHNSTON continued, referring to data from the New Zealand weather service, not DALTON.
'SAGA Insurance gets thrown about a lot in these conditions, which is tiring, and the deck is frequently washed,' said KNOX-JOHNSTON of the brutal conditions overnight. Nonetheless, he has reeled in 10 miles from A Southern Man - AGD since late yesterday and reduced BASURKO's lead by 20 miles and now trails Pakea by 93 miles. 'Been in oilies all day waiting for the moment to reduce sail which will probably come soon,' he explained, adding, 'Murphy's Law says [this will be] after dark.'
Although the conditions have been demanding, KNOX-JOHNSTON has averaged 11 knots overnight, the best boat speed in the back three, 'The dark rain clouds are forming to windward now,' he described earlier, 'Not much else you can do except keep everything running and doze.' In these circumstances, a solo sailor can set his boat up and then monitor the speed as it carves through the Southern Ocean. 'You can watch the waves for hours, observe their enormous power, marvel at the way the boat rides them,' marvelled KNOX-JOHNSTON, 'But wish they were a bit smaller and the wind a tad lighter.'
Separated from the back three by 1,100 miles of ocean, Kojiro SHIRAISHI (JPN) continues his descent southeast on a broad reach, powered by a 28 knot northerly breeze. Having successfully dealt with Ice Gate 2 following a long struggle in light airs, SHIRAISHI is lining up Spirit of Yukoh for Cape Horn 1,200 miles and - at current speed - four days sailing to the east.
At the front, as he was power reaching in 30-40 knot westerlies, STAMM commented, 'It is strong, but the sea is regular and it is safe to put the big sails on.' The Swiss skipper and Cheminées Poujoulat have left the Falkland Islands 300 miles off their port quarter and are stretching away from South America, heading northeast through the Furious Fifties.
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.