Velux 5 Oceans: Unai Basurko hopes locust blowing off the land confirm his east route decision

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Yesterday Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was bemoaning the unreliability of new technology and was threatening to get his sextant out. He would be impressed by Unai Basurko's use of wildlife to determine his race strategy on board Pakea. The Spanish skipper said: "I was at the wheel and suddenly a leg of locust fell in my face. I looked up and saw this bird of prey, like a hawk, on the top of the mast and another one flying around. This bird was eating a locust and didn't like the legs, so was throwing them away. Later I realised that when you can find a locust on the ocean it means that there are strong East winds near the African coast, so I hope my decision of taking the East route will be right."

 Well, Basurko can thank his dead locust for helping him get ever closer to Graham Dalton, now little more than 50 miles ahead this afternoon. "I'm checking Graham Dalton's position twice a day, I'm thinking all the time I want to pass him, sailing the boat to the extreme, I don't want to break anything, but focussed on that. Sometimes being at the back is good because I can learn from the mistakes the others have done and correct them. I have sailed closer to Africa and Cabo Verde than the rest of the fleet, like 2º or 3º. I'm crossing my fingers but I think the East wind is strong enough."

 While Basurko is catching up to Dalton, the New Zealander in turn is closing in on Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, just a hundred miles ahead at this afternoon's position report. It has been a good 24 hours for Bernard Stamm as he stretches out to more than 600 miles ahead of Mike Golding, with Koji Shiraishi another hundred miles further back. Alex Thomson is listed as more than 1,000 miles behind Stamm but the reality of the situation is probably not so bad, as he is skirting the more favourable side of the high pressure system.

 "Well I'm still heading west and it just feels wrong," said the Hugo Boss skipper this afternoon. "But I'm working really hard to avoid that high pressure system, trying to make sure I don't get too close to it, as it's still possible it could head my way in the hours to come. Like Bernard said yesterday, I haven't really had any option but to take the course I have. I also really worried about getting trapped in light, upwind conditions - that would have been too much to bear. Though the wind's a bit quiet at the moment, hopefully there will be stronger winds ahead.

 "So, the priority for me now is to get myself and the boat in proper order before hitting the Southern Ocean. I know I have been putting it off for more than a week now, but looks like today could be the day to climb the mast. The only problem is my wireless remote vision which enables me to control the boat from the top of the mast isn't working and so it's only really safe for me to go up when the wind is more stable. I'm also concentrating hard on monitoring the weather, as it is critical that I pass down the western edge of the apex of the high pressure system. For the first time in a while, the boat is beginning to dry out but there's still some water to get rid of. The great thing is the weather is still pretty warm. I'm running around in just a t-shirt and lightweight trousers, something I want to make the most of, as in just a few short days the temperatures will start to drop dramatically."

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 November 2006 )