Velux 5 Oceans: Leaderboard change opportunities ahead for Alex Thomson

Friday, 17 November 2006

Second-placed skipper Mike Golding and Japanese sailor Kojiro Shiraishi today find themselves dwindling in a Southern Atlantic high pressure system while Bernard Stamm and Alex Thomson storm ahead in the VELUX 5 OCEANS race. According to the latest position report, Alex Thomson, the youngest skipper in the solo round-the-world race remains in fourth place overall, but looks set move up the leaderboard as he relishes in stronger winds. Further to the west and the south of Golding and Shiraishi, Thomson has strategically positioned himself out of the clutches of the high pressure system, which brings characteristically light winds.

Graham Dalton and Unai Basurko, the fifth and sixth placed skippers off the East coast of Brazil are set to cross the Equator this afternoon, joining the rest of the fleet in the Southern Hemisphere.

Like Alex Thomson, who sighted the first albatross of the race yesterday, Kojiro, affectionately known as ‘The Silent Assassin’ reports that he has seen two of the magnificent birds flying overhead. In this race, as in other round-the-world races, a big part of life at sea for solo sailors is how close they are to nature. One man, out there, far from land has only animals such as the albatross for company as echoed by Kojiro in his pensive daily log regarding ‘Tenyosui’, his boat’s motto.

Kojiro Shiraishi, Spirit of Yukoh:

“From this morning we finally, finally have been able to head in the direction we need to go. It really feels like it has been a while. Although we are still close to the centre of the high [pressure system] where the winds are low, it is good to be heading towards Australia again and so feelings are good aboard. Hopefully we should also have these tailwinds pushing us a long for a while now. Now that we are back in downwind conditions I am back to thinking about my poor C6 sail. The sooner I can get to Fremantle and have it repaired the better.”

“We have had two young albatross come up from behind today. They fly amazingly low just at sea level and always in perfect symmetry with the rising and falling of the waves. It is a beautiful sight and they so look like they are enjoying themselves. I always envy them. Where I have to work hard and take so much care here they just sail on the air with effortless beauty. This is nature at her best and we have a lot to learn from this living nature. This is almost impossible for us humans to understand or accept. That even in the wild remote sea out here there is life that is here to play and enjoy life to the fullest. When I can have that same feeling then I can have ‘Tenyosui’*.”

* ‘Tenyosui’ or `To combine nature with oneself’ is written in large letters on the coachroof of Kojiro’s boat Spirit of Yukoh.

Alex Thomson, HUGO BOSS:

“It’s been a busy night with lots of sail changes and little rest, but I’m feeling very positive about the choices I have made and the course I’ve taken. It’s great to have some decent breeze again and I am really flying along topping 25 knots at times. I’d forgotten how bumpy it can be but it’s exhilarating. The report is short today as I have quite a lot on keeping the boat steady and maximizing the gains that I’m going to make over the next 48 hours. I think I had an encounter with a large fish or a small whale last night as I felt an impact – I’m sure the fish came off worse.”

Mike Golding, ECOVER:

"The high pressure is right across my path and moving east, my wind has moved from SE to NE and I am sailing with Code 0 (a large lightweight gennaker). A large lumpy swell is preventing me making target speeds and the wind is now cutting out completely from time to time. Basically I have so little speed that I cannot shift my position on the race course to help myself and I need this system to move away as predicted or, if possible faster. If it moved to the east faster then as well as releasing me so that Alex doesn't pop out too far ahead to the south of me, it will perhaps more importantly for the race overall, slow Bernard down."

Boat Positions as at 10:20 UTC 17th November 2006:

1 Cheminees Poujoulat Bernard Stamm DTF 5944
2 Ecover Mike Golding DTL 565
3 Spirit of Yukoh Kojiro Shiraishi DTL 672
4 Hugo Boss Alex Thomson DTL 1031
5 SAGA Insurance Sir Robin Knox-Johnston DTL 2281
6 A Southern Man-AGD Graham Dalton DTL 2413
7 PAKEA Unai Basurko DTL 2482

Kate Fairclough

Last Updated ( Friday, 17 November 2006 )