Velux prize-giving celebrates the end of an epic

Six months after the start of the Velux 5 Oceans race, the Palacio de Congresos y Musica in Bilbao played hosted to the final prizegiving last Sunday 6 May.

The four skippers who successfully completed the race were joined by their teams, families, title sponsor Velux, race organisers Clipper Ventures, numerous journalists and representatives from the City of Bilbao in an evening of celebration. Inaki Azkuna, the Mayor of Bilbao attended the event, commenting: ‘I am honoured to open the final prizegiving and to have these amazing people with us.’

As he went on stage to receive his prize, runaway race winner Bernard Stamm, who won all three legs onboard his Open 60 Cheminees Poujoulat, also received a local hat from the Basque Country, presented by the Mayor of Bilbao. Accepting his second title, the defending champion added: ‘Going at sea is always a pleasure for me and I won’t retire for a long time! I have learnt a lot during the Velux 5 Oceans and I have been amazed by the warmth of the Basque people. I have met some great people during this race and it will remain a great memory for me.’

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, completing another solo round the world race 35 years after his first added: ‘The best part of the race is here in Bilbao. The friendship and the bond between myself, the skippers and the teams is something invaluable.’

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Velux finish was in how many skippers didn’t make it – of the eight original entrants, only four crossed the finish line. Tim Troy never crossed the start line, Mike Golding and Alex Thomson’s dreams ended in a dramatic rescue in the Southern Ocean and Graham Dalton fell at the last hurdle, not arriving in America in time to make the start of the final leg.