Golding retires, Thomson safe on land and the end of the beginning for Stamm

One week after their dramatic ordeal in the Southern Ocean, British solo skippers, Alex Thomson (GBR) and Mike Golding (GBR), finally arrived into Cape Town (South Africa) at 1900 GMT on 1 December, marking the end of the race for both British hopefuls – Mike Golding today announced his retirement from the race. He said commented:
‘It hasn’t worked out the way we planned it, but all of that is put into perspective. HUGO BOSS is gone and Alex is not. If that is the only reason I was in this race then that is good enough for me.’

Meanwhile, Swiss defending champion Bernard Stamm is expected to arrive into the port of Fremantle at midnight tonight after 43 days at sea as the winner of the first leg of the Velux 5 Oceans. The position poll at 0532 UTC place Stamm 82 miles west of Fremantle. Over the weekend, Cheminées Poujoulat was hammered by 70 knot gusts, but Stamm seemed unphased, keeping his foot firmly on the gas and averaging 13 knots boat speed.

Three day’s sail south-west of Stamm, Kojiro Shiraishi’s world was thrown into turmoil on Sunday when a rogue wave laid Spirit of Yukoh flat on her side. This morning the wind was below 25 knots and we were racing smoothly until suddenly a huge wave came. The boat rolled over onto its side,’ ‘Koji explained. The most worrying damage reported is twisted stanchions sustained as the boat dug over on its side into the Indian Ocean.

When Golding officially ceased racing upon arrival in Cape Town on Friday night, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston moved up to second place. Currently 690 miles south-west of Cape Town and under two day’s sail from rounding the Cape of Good Hope, Knox-Johnston does have one issue to resolve: ‘Contrary winds are beginning to raise a serious issue. I had fuel enough to get to Fremantle and keep my batteries charged on the basis of a voyage of 55 days at sea. Currently I have been at sea 34 days since Corunna, about 10 days longer than expected thanks to adverse wind conditions, and if these conditions continue I am not going to get to Fremantle before I run out, and that means no electricity, which means no autopilot. There is no point in Saga Insurance heading towards South Africa as we have strong northerlies due in a couple of days, so Kergeulen Island, where the French have a small research station would probably be my best bet. ‘

Sir Robin and his shore team are currently working through options and calculating his fuel consumption. There are several ways in which he can cut down on fuel usage including minimal use of his autopilots, which would involve more hand steering of the boat. This is less than ideal in the Southern Ocean given the extremely low temperatures. He could also reduce use of telephones and computers, which use a lot of power and potentially only use them for downloading weather information and routing software.

As a result of the first leg taking many of the skippers longer than expected, race organisers Clipper Ventures PLC have announced that the start of Leg 2 is now set for Sunday January 14, a change from the original schedule of January 7. The one week postponement has been introduced as a safety precaution for the skippers, following a gruelling first leg from Bilbao to Fremantle.

The original schedule was created with a certain amount of flexibility already built in, and the change to the start of leg 2 will not affect the program of events or the start of leg 3 in Norfolk.