Velux 5 Oceans: Stamm & Golding preparing for Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo round-the-world in 1968/9, crossed the Equator at 1208 UTC today in the classic VELUX 5 OCEANS race. This is Sir Robin’s eighth Equator crossing aboard a sailing yacht, and only his second solo crossing in 38 years. The crossing marks a key milestone for Sir Robin in the eventful first leg. He has been plagued by technical issues since the fleet was hit by a 60 knot storm in the Bay of Biscay. Last Sunday Sir Robin encountered a violent gust which caused SAGA INSURANCE to ‘Chinese Gybe’, breaking the battens in his mainsail. This week Sir Robin has continued to suffer problems with his autopilot system. As he dives into the Southern Hemisphere towards the treacherous depths of the Southern Ocean, Sir Robin, The Ultimate Pioneer, continues to lead the chasing pack in the Ultimate Solo Challenge.

Onboard HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson has finally climbed his mast, after much procrastination, to sort out the issues with his furling gear. Unable to bring himself to slow the boat, Thomson did so under full spinnaker and now feels ready to face the Southern Ocean. Every mile is crucial as he carefully skirts the area of high pressure which Mike Golding (GBR) and Kojiro Shiraishi (JPN) find themselves in, desperate to jump on the gravy train that will take him quickly southeast and towards his destination. Every minute or hour of progress now could translate into days later on. Thomson will soon head into what is, for him, unchartered territory as he approaches the place where he was forced to retire during the Vendée Globe race in 2004.

As race leader and defending champion Bernard Stamm (SUI) reaches 35 degrees Latitude, he, along with Mike Golding, in second place, are preparing their boats for the “Roaring Forties” and “Furious Fifties”. The most remote area on Earth, the Southern Ocean is a cold, wet, desolate and often very windy place. Stamm told listeners during his radio interview this morning that he was expecting the Southern Ocean to be colder than ever for him, as he forgot to pack his warmest mid-layer clothing.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, SAGA Insurance:

“I intend to greet King Neptune and his Court as I cross the Equator - it would be very poor manners not to. We know each other well from many previous encounters and I have no potential subjects for him to examine this time so it is just a social visit. There will be recognition of this milestone in the traditional manner, a glass of whisky, and the sea can have a small sensation as well. Then on into a south-easterly Force 5, warm and bouncy, but at least we are moving at last. RKJ”

Alex Thomson, HUGO BOSS:

“The mast has been beckoning me for ages now, and finally there was no more avoiding it. So with a quick call to the shore crew, I strapped on my helmet, dug out the harness and faced the job I have been dreading. You might have noticed that I really was not looking forward to it and if I am honest I have been putting it off with the excuse that I did not want to slow or stop the boat to do it. Yesterday was really productive and I got loads of jobs done - got the keel sorted (I hope) and got the boat dry.”

“It was a great sight to be at the top of the 28 metre mast looking down at my enormous 600 square metre spinnaker whilst sailing along at 10-11 knots with a big Southern Ocean swell. I even saw my first albatross up there and it makes you feel very small.”

“HUGO BOSS is now the most southerly boat and they say south is king so things are looking more positive for me now. Hopefully we will get the new wind soon and then be able to rocket east. I am looking forward to getting further south into the Roaring Forties and getting soaking wet! I have never done this part of the Southern Ocean before so it will be uncharted territory for me. Having had trouble there in the Vendée, it will certainly make me back off a little.”

Bernard Stamm, Cheminees Poujoulat:

“The Southern Ocean is a place I usually like. However this time, it’s going to be a bit different – when I packed my bag in Bilbao, I forgot something I should have brought. I spent a long time packing but I forgot to put in my fleecey top. Luckily I have my fleecey trousers but I still think it is going to be hard and so I don’t look forward to getting into the forties!

Boat Positions as at 10:20 UTC 16th November 2006
1 Cheminees Poujoulat  Bernard Stamm  DTF 5636
2 Ecover Mike Golding DTL 827
3 Spirit of Yukoh Kojiro Shiraishi DTL 1139
4 Hugo Boss Alex Thomson DTL 1139
5 SAGA Insurance Sir Robin Knox-Johnston DTL 2471
6 A Southern Man-AGD Graham Dalton DTL  2571
7 PAKEA Unai Basurko DTL 2635
Kate Fairclough

Velux 5 Ocean photos

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 November 2006 )