With just over a week to go Velux 5-Oceans Race competitors make final preparations 5/4/07

Most of the Velux 5-Oceans race skippers are making final preparations to their yachts at the Waterside Marina in Norfolk (Virginia, USA), ahead of the final sprint back across the Atlantic to Bilbao.

The only competitor still to complete Leg 2 is Graham Dalton who, after a stream of disaters, finally left the Brazilian port of Fortaleza yesterday see previous news story here.

Having left Bilbao in October 2006, the solo sailors from around the world are now so close to completing the race. After sailing single-handed through the most desolate oceans on the planet and surviving the most extreme conditions in any sport, the skippers have been enjoying the warm hospitality of the City of Norfolk and the people of Hampton Roads.

The Formula 1 yachts will leave Norfolk at 1300 on Sunday 15 April and the City of Norfolk is preparing a farewell that none of the skippers will soon forget.

For those planning to visit Bilbao during the stopover, the programme kicks off with the official race exhibition, opening on Thursday 12 April at 1000. Entry is free and there will be shops selling race clothing and official merchandise. A race showcase will feature the highlights and low points of the race thus far, including the dramatic abandonment of Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson) in the Southern Ocean and the rescue by his fellow competitor, British skipper Mike Golding, who was then forced to retire with a broken mast on Ecover.

On Friday, April 13, from 1600 – 1500, there will be the Velux 5-Oceans “Party in the Park”, sponsored by Sinclair Communications, to officially celebrate the Norfolk stopover.

The race restart will be from a point just south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. At precisely 1300, the starting gun will release these adventurous sailors on their final journey.