Stamm runs into a pile of rope in the Southern Ocean

Velux 5 Oceans race leader, Bernard Stamm made a hurried report to the race office last night detailing drama onboard Cheminées Poujoulat: “Yesterday evening I took a very big amount of rope on the keel. VERY big ropes and it was like a plate of spaghetti of – more or less – one cubic meter,” the Swiss skipper said, ” I got rid of that marvellous present after half a hour.”

The incident took place at 49°South, just 300 miles from the freezing waters of the Antarctic Convergence, but Stamm was helped by unusually benign conditions and quickly and skillfully manoeuvred his Open 60 to dislodge the debris: “I took the head sail down and with the mainsail only I tried four or five time to back the boat off. In the end, I was lucky that this **** has left my keel. Now everything is OK.” This temporary setback has not affected his progress south and Cheminées Poujoulat continues to poll the fleet’s highest speeds, averaging 14 knots.

Kojiro Shiraishi, in second place, has been unable to match Stamm’s pace overnight, slipping back 46 miles and Spirit of Yukoh now trails the leader by 222 miles. However, the most dramatic overnight loss is onboard A Southern Man – AGD in third place as Kiwi skipper Graham Dalton turned hard left last night and is currently flat-lining east, 900 miles due west of Tasmania. Dalton is remaining tight-lipped over this tactical call, but the decision has cost him 104 miles and his Open 50 is now 265 miles north of Kojiro.

While Dalton heads east, Basque solo sailor, Unai Basurko has turned Pakea north-east towards the Great Australian Bight: a heading that has handed Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in fifth place a 139 mile gain as SAGA Insurance swoops south-east away from Australia, 200 miles from the Spanish yacht.