Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has made an amazing recovery on the second leg of the Velux 5 Oceans Race 23/1/07

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has made an amazing recovery on the second leg of the Velux 5 Oceans Race. Knox Johnston who had to return to the Fremantle start less than 24 hours into the second leg of the Velux 5 Oceans Race last Sunday week to fix his two failed autopilot systems on his Open 60 Saga Insurance, is now only seven miles behind Spanish skipper Unai Basurko aboard Pakea.

Just under a week ago Knox Johnston was 250 miles astern but consistently sailing at higher speeds than Basurko and Graham Dalton means he has made significant progress and now has his eyes set on regaining third position. Catching up with the others also means that he’ll be sailing in ‘company’ rather than entirely alone at the back of the fleet down in the Southern Ocean towards Cape Horn.

For Knox-Johnston though, who seems to be constantly fixing broken gear, further progress is not going to be easy. After what he describes as a bouncy night with a large swell and breaking seas Knox-Johnston has discovered damage to his furler. Apparently the central disc has bent and been ripped out and is now jammed which means he’ll have no reacher for the rest of the leg.

In this morning’s log he said: “This is a big loss to performance. It means I am a bit more conservative, not being certain what weather is coming I leave setting more sail until I am sure the wind has eased whereas before I had that information. I do have a couple of spinnakers I can set but not to-day thank you!”

Sir Robin is also having problems with his sat system and can’t see this getting fixed either adding: “Frequent attempts to get the Fleet 77 satellite system up and resulted in much groaning from the dome and a message about the motor, which I can believe. I doubt we can get this working before Norfolk and I am certainly not trying to take the dome off to look at it down here. We know the antenna to the new Iridium works as it is working with my spare, but I cannot connect that up to get the weather so am now dependant on the Australian text maritime forecasts which have nothing like the detail of the info I did have. I am marginally better off than I was 38 years ago, at least I have the Aussie forecasts now.”

At the front of the fleet it’s case of the rich getting richer with
Bernard Stamm and Koji Shiraishi putting miles between themselves and the chasing three. Chatting from Cheminees Poujoulat this morning surprised Stamm commented: “I was expecting a low pressure system with a normal front approach, with high altitude clouds at first and more grey, dark and low clouds and heavy rain nearer the front. With the north-westerly wind, the front should reach me after tomorrow. Now the wind has started as you would expect, which is good for the boatspeed.

“But first anomaly: the wind turned left and dropped a little bit. And second: there are no clouds at all. A wonderful, sunny and windy day. I think the low is slowly weakening or moving much slower than predicted. Anyway, for the moment it is perfect, unexpected.”