Stamm runaway winner, Sir Robin still battling for third

The beginning of the end of the Velux 5 Oceans started yesterday afternoon, Monday April 30. Bilbao hosted a famous welcome for runaway race winner Bernard Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat, who finished at 1713 local time (1513 UTC). Stamm completed the 30,000 mile circumnavigation in just 104 days, 14 days ahead of Shiraishi, who arrived an hour after him yesterday to take second place. Hundreds of spectators on the water and lining the shores of the home port of Gexto warmly greeted the two returning stars, who left the port in horrendous weather late October.

As he was swamped by fans, Stamm said: ‘This is a great surprise for me because I did not set out as the favourite at the beginning of the race. The course that I prepared for and imagined was very different from the reality. The first storm broke up the fleet and then two of my main adversaries retired [Mike Golding with Ecover and Alex Thomson with Hugo Boss]. It became a race of management rather than tactics.’

‘It is difficult to describe on land how we live at sea,’ Stamm continued. ‘Even without the big competitors it remains a solo circumnavigation and a strategic race. You have to be careful and juggle the different weather systems. But in the end, anything can happen even up to the last minute. The boat dictates life onboard. You must dominate the boat and not be dominated by it. It is truly ping-pong for the nerves. It is good when it stops and even better when you win it.’

Kojiro Shiraishi expressed his own admiration for Stamm’s performance: ‘Congratulations to Bernard! I am very honoured to sail together in the same class. I’m always very impressed by his sailing technique, especially on the second leg, it was fantastic. I can say it was rather ‘Artistique’ than ‘Technique’. This perfect victory is made by his real ability. I thank him for having taught me how to sail and to read the meteorology as a sailing friend. Thanks to his instruction, I can do a good sail on the last leg. I’m very proud of him and of his family. I have arrived while your beer is still fresh and we are celebrating our efforts together.’

Photo: OnEdition