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15 November 2006, 02:52 pm
Leaders Experience A Bone-Shaker Ride
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VELUX 5 OCEANS 2006-2007

VELUX 5 OCEANS race leader Bernard STAMM (SUI) on Cheminees Poujoulat is now halfway to Fremantle, Australia, with a 565 nautical miles lead over second placed Mike GOLDING (GBR) on Ecover. The Swiss skipper has had a bumper 24 hours and is thrashing along at 17.1 knots and has extended his lead by over 100 miles since yesterday afternoon.
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Yesterday, still sailing upwind, with an average speed of 9-10 knots, STAMM was experiencing a bone-shaker ride, admitting the Open 60 monohulls are not designed for sailing upwind. He was looking forward to opening his sails, which he hoped to do before the day was over. And open up his sails he certainly did, tearing away from GOLDING, from 446 nm ahead at 15:08 UTC yesterday, to 565 nm at 10:20 UTC today.

Despite the temperature still being a mild 20 degrees, the leader now has his boots and foul weather gear on, ready to enter the Southern Ocean. Going downwind will allow STAMM to reach the latitude 40, called the 'Roaring Forties', where he will need to put on even more layers. Due to the unstable conditions, with winds gusting between 20 and 30 knots, the Swiss sailor is spending most of his time steering or trimming and of course keeping his eye on the rest of the fleet. Quite happy with the east course he has taken, STAMM sees an opportunity for Alex THOMSON (GBR) on Hugo Boss who has to go around the high pressure system. 'Even if he doesn't have any other choice, his option could work quite well,' says STAMM. 'He will sail downwind much faster than us upwind, although he has a greater distance to cover so he should still cross his fingers.'

Bumpy Ride For THOMSON

Meanwhile THOMSON is not enjoying his detour to the west of the high pressure system, finding it extremely tough and frustrating to sail away from his destination. He averaged the highest speed across the fleet during this afternoon's position report, clocking up 14.1 knots compared to nine knots for the race leader. However, THOMSON describes a very confused sea state with Hugo Boss launching off waves and forcing him to crawl around on his hands and feet. His key focus is on how hard to push the boat without overloading her and knowing when to throttle back.

Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) on Saga Insurance has been so involved in fixing the problems on his boat, particularly the broken battens in his mainsail, that he has been paying no attention to his progress relative to the other boats. 'I haven't looked at anyone's position for some time. I find it depressing to see how much distance I've lost. We're just idling along because we can't drive along nicely without the mainsail working properly, so that's my priority. I'm really not interested [in the other boats] at the moment. The leaders now have such a lead. Really it's a question of how many days behind we come into Fremantle.' In fact despite his limping progress KNOX-JOHNSTON has held his own against the front pack and has extended on the two boats behind, so he may not feel so disappointed when he next looks at the position reports.

Spanish entry Unai BASURKO on Pakea has been drawing ever closer to Graham DALTON (NZL), who has endured a torrid time of late, caused by an almost total absence of wind. 'It's been the day from hell, this last 24 hours. We did everything right and then we sailed into a hole where there was absolutely no wind. We parked up for about 20 hours going nowhere. I think I've reinvented ways to go in circles. Unai is 130 miles to the east, so we're in two totally different bits of ocean, and he may be lucky. Some wind might move in to meet him - that would be just my luck - but I think he'll run into a hole too.'

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.

Justine Ozoux (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Bernard STAMM is pulling away at the front:© onEdition
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