Velux 5 Oceans: Things start to look more positive for Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Alex Thomson's lone break to the west could be paying off. It's too early to tell, but the skipper of Hugo Boss is certainly fulfilling one golden rule when racing in this part of the Atlantic - to get south as soon as possible. This should enable him to latch on to one of the fast-moving weather systems that barrel along through the Southern Ocean.

"I've got a little bit of wind, and things are being to look a bit more positive," said Thomson earlier today. "It will take a while for it to pay off - or not pay off - because when the new breeze comes through it will come through quickly and I don't think I'll be able to hang on to it very long. But normally the rule is that south is king, and hopefully that's the case this time around."

Mike Golding is almost resigned to being displaced from second as the advantage swings in Thomson's favour. The Ecover skipper commented: "I am making progress, slow progress. The high is going over me, and I am getting south now. But I need to get a lot more south. My problem is that when I come out Alex will be a lot further south than me at the other end. He is going to have a wind advantage on me and maybe half a day ahead. I can't see me stopping his march, frankly.

"But it should it be close. It'll be a race and he will be catchable. What we need is for this thing [the high] to accelerate [eastwards] and sit on Bernard for a while, and if it does sit on him then I am only showing as two days behind which is not too bad, and it could even turn in to less further down the course. So, we just need this bloody high to keep moving and if it does and slows Bernard a bit, we will be pretty quick going towards the waypoint. We just have to get to this blinking waypoint."

Even Bernard Stamm as he flies along at around 15 knots boatspeed is not entirely sure he has broken free of the dastardly high. "I am still around the high pressure and the mess is not over yet. I think that by tomorrow I should catch the southerly wind. I roughly had the same conditions as I have now in the last couple of days. I am going upwind, close reaching. The waves don't match with the wind. There is a really big westerly swell, it is quite choppy. Add the waves from the wind and it gives you a weird sea state. The weather is nice, but I get some really cloudy moments with some horrible squalls. And it is getting colder. It is still much more comfy than it was before when I was close hauled, and the boat doesn't hit the waves like she did. If everything goes well, it should shift by tomorrow and I would be able to ease the sails properly to start doing some real speed."

Meanwhile in the north, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has finally broken past the equator and into the Southern Hemisphere. It was an opportunity for Sir Robin to break out the whisky for a libation in honour of King Neptune. Then it was back to work in his bid to hold off the ever-present threat from Graham Dalton and Unai Basurko.

Dalton is locked in battle with the Doldrums, or at least he thinks he is. "I thought we might have been through the Doldrums, but I'm not sure. The sea is very choppy, the wind is nearly on the nose, and it's uncomfortable conditions. The wind is up and down a bit. People say it must be harder in the Southern Ocean. I say every bit of ocean is challenging. You don't get much sleep here, you're always up on deck changing sails and re-trimming." The New Zealander is mighty envious of Unai Basurko's relatively smooth passage through this fickle part of the Atlantic. "Coming as he does from a staunchly Catholic country, he must have the Pope praying for him or something. He's had a dream run." Whether or not this will convince Dalton to find God has yet to be seen.

<B>15:08 UTC 16/11/06 Velux 5 Oceans race positions

Position Yacht Skipper Latitude Longitude Crs Spd DTF/L</B>
1 Cheminees Poujoulat Bernard Stamm 36° 08.68 S 005° 40.64 W 130 12.2 5581
2 Ecover Mike Golding 33° 32.56 S 022° 48.76 W 166 6.2 858
3 Spirit of Yukoh Kojiro Shiraishi 32° 27.04 S 023° 28.08 W 153 8.0 909
4 Hugo Boss Alex Thomson 36° 17.52 S 029° 13.16 W 110 12.2 1138
5 SAGA Insurance Sir Robin Knox-Johnston 00° 23.48 S 028° 31.40 W 201 8.2 2498
6 A Southern Man-AGD Graham Dalton 02° 35.60 N 026° 52.28 W 215 2.1 2614
7 PAKEA Unai Basurko 04° 21.56 N 025° 10.92 W 226 9.0 2670

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 November 2006 )