Velux 5 Oceans: latest victim
Bernard Stamm, the defending champion on CHEMINEES POUJOULAT, is in an upbeat mood despite reporting damage sustained in a ‘crash’. The Swiss skipper, who leads the VELUX 5 OCEANS by a comfortable 960 miles, reported that he has again broken the same halyard as earlier in the leg from Spain to Fremantle. He has also broken three battens in the mainsail. Furthermore, one of the mainsail battens is also caught in the leeward backstay, meaning Stamm is currently not able to lower his mainsail beyond one reef.
Now 2,300 miles from the finish in Western Australia in cold temperatures and harsh conditions, Stamm will be looking to make the necessary repairs as he will certainly not wish to be caught by strong winds with no flexibility to his mainsail setting. However, the damage hasn’t stopped CHEMINEES POUJOULAT from recording the highest speeds within the fleet. Stamm will soon round the Kerguelen Islands, a mandatory waypoint en route to Australia. Following Alex Thomson’s decision to abandon HUGO BOSS, Stamm now remains on track to be the only skipper to complete three around the world races in three years, an incredible feat.
Meanwhile Mike Golding, who was at the centre of last week’s drama, continues to make best speed towards South Africa onboard ECOVER with the mainsail now set. Golding must be reflecting on the rollercoaster of emotions that saw the British skipper turn back and successfully rescue fellow Brit Alex Thomson deep in the Southern Ocean, only to have his mast break in two places hours after the act of heroism. The FICO World Champion is now surely weighing up all the options left to him in the VELUX 5 OCEANS. ECOVER does have a spare mast in Southampton, but the team must decide on the merits of continuing based on costs and his overall position in the race.
Further west, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (SAGA INSURANCE) leads the three back markers as they head south in search of the Roaring Forties. The final three boats are desperate to make up the lost ground on the front markers and start to eat up the miles into the Southern Ocean. Sir Robin continues to be plagued by problems with his auto pilot system, but will continue through to Fremantle rather than stop to make repairs along the way. Basurko (PAKEA), the newest Open 60 in the fleet, will be looking to move out of last place and pass Dalton (A SOUTHERN MAN AGD) as the winds and speeds pick up.