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1 May 2007, 09:36 am
Bilbao Celebrates STAMM And SHIRAISHI In Style
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VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007
Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao celebrated a famous victory for VELUX 5 OCEANS winner Bernard STAMM (SUI) on Cheminees Poujoulat and then gave a hero's welcome to Kojiro SHIRAISHI (JPN) on Spirit of Yukoh, all in the space of just one hour on Monday 30 April. Hundreds of spectators on the water and lining the shores of the home port of Gexto warmly greeted two returning stars.
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STAMM, onboard his Open 60 Cheminees Poujoulat, crossed the finish line of the third and final leg of the VELUX 5 OCEANS at 17:13 local time (15:13 UTC). It marked the end of a race that STAMM has dominated from day one, highlighting his impressive sailing skills, seamanship and unbeatable speed through the world's toughest oceans. STAMM finished the third leg from Norfolk, Virginia, USA in just under 12 days and guaranteed a clean sweep of victories in every leg and a record lead over his adversaries. The popular skipper completed the 30,000 mile circumnavigation of the planet in an astounding 104 days, 14 days ahead of SHIRAISHI in second.

'A Race Of Management'

STAMM was greeted on the docks in Gexto, where his journey began on 22 October 2006, by hundreds of friends, family, supporters, sponsors and journalists, as well as the appreciative public of Bilbao. The Swiss skipper commented, 'This is a great surprise for me because I did not set out as the favourite at the beginning of the race. The course that I prepared for and imagined was very different from the reality. The first storm broke up the fleet and then two of my main adversaries retired. It became a race of management rather than tactics.

'It is difficult to describe on land how we live at sea. Even without the big competitors it remains a solo circumnavigation and a strategic race. You have to be careful and juggle the different weather systems. But in the end, anything can happen even up to the last minute. The boat dictates life onboard. You must dominate the boat and not be dominated by it. In the VELUX 5 OCEANS it is leg, stopover, leg, stopover. It is truly ping pong for the nerves. It is good when it stops and even better when you win it.'

STAMM arrived on the docks to the cheers of hundreds of fans. But only a short distance behind the Swiss skipper was the much admired SHIRAISHI, who also warranted the applause of the Bilbao crowds. Competitively sailing an Open 60 for the first time in his distinguished career and with limited knowledge of the boat, his achievements in the VELUX 5 OCEANS have been nothing short of spectacular. SHIRAISHI crossed the finish line at 17:56 local time (15:56 UTC). His second place finished only a few miles behind STAMM confirmed his rise as a force to be reckoned with in the Open 60 circuit


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Bernard STAMM and Kojiro SHIRAISHI enjoy the
moment as the crowds welcome them back to
© onEdition
SHIRAISHI expressed his own admiration for STAMM's performance, 'Congratulations to Bernard! I am very honoured to sail together in the same class. I'm always very impressed by his sailing technique, especially on the second leg, it was fantastic. I can say it was rather 'Artistique' than 'Technique'. This perfect victory is made by his real ability. I thank him for having taught me how to sail and to read the meteo as a sailing friend. Thanks to his instruction, I can do a good sail on the last leg. I'm very proud of him and of his family. I will arrive during your beer would be still fresh and we are celebrating together for our efforts.'

Speaking about STAMM, David ADAMS, Race Director of the VELUX 5 OCEANS, added, 'I have the utmost respect for Bernard. His race around the world has been a joy to watch. He has demonstrated exceptional skills in navigation, seamanship and discipline. The results speak for themselves. He now joins a very exclusive club with Philippe JEANTOT and Christophe AUGUIN as two-time winners of this event. What Bernard has achieved in this race will not quickly be forgotten. His determination, stamina and capacity to sail fast and yet maintain his boat is brilliant.'

ADAMS then commented on SHIRAISHI, stating, 'They should be extremely proud of him in Japan and I know his mentor Yukoh TADA would be extremely proud. He was fantastic and we all wanted this result for him, his family and supporters. I first met him in this race in 1990 when he was shore crew for Yukoh TADA. Koji has stepped up to the mark and he should walk away with his head held high.'

From The Atlantic

Speaking from the Atlantic, Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) added his own praise for a skipper that is quickly becoming a hero of this race, 'Bernard should finish today and become the third person to have won this race twice. It has been a performance marked by good preparation and few errors coupled with single-minded determination. Bernard has to be one of the most experienced Open 60 skippers around now.

'Kojiro has been closing in at the end which is remarkable. This is Koji's second participation, last time he did it in a 40-footer, this time with a second hand 60-footer, but again well prepared. He is the third Japanese to complete the event after Yukoh TADA and Minouru SAITO.'

About The Race

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.

Tim Kelly (As Amended by ISAF), Image, A victorious Bernard STAMM on his arrival in Bilbao:© onEdition
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