More breeze for Bernard Stamm as he celebrates his birthday aboard Cheminees Poujoulat 29/11/06

Bernard Stamm, leader of the Velux 5 Oceans Race celebrated his birthday today aboard Cheminees Poujoulat. Having passed north of the Kerguelen Islands, a mandatory waypoint, Stamm, now 43, is on an easterly heading towards Fremantle. The Swiss skipper currently has 1,761 miles still to sail to the finish of leg one and is expected to arrive early next week.

Responding to Kojiro Shiraishi’s gains yesterday, Stamm is back on pace and again setting the fastest speeds within the fleet, clocking an average speed of close to 14 knots over the last 24 hours. The conditions and forecast look favourable for Stamm, who is hoping he can hitch a ride along the passage between the high-pressure systems all the way to Fremantle.

Kojiro Shiraishi on Spirit of Yukoh, has pushed through the fog he had yesterday and is now reaching to the east with a strong northerly wind. The young skipper is truly experiencing the harsh conditions of the Southern Ocean as he crashes through the icy waves, exposing any leaks, no matter how minor. Koji still has a day’s sailing to reach the mark at the Kerguelen Islands.

British duo, Mike Golding and Alex Thomson, have managed to secure the broken sections of mast on the deck of Ecover. The pair are still 48 hours south east of the shelter of Table Mountain.

Saga Insurance, sailed by the British sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, continues south east towards the Roaring Forties and the race safety gate at Latitude 44°S. Knox-Johnston has been surfing up to 20 knots, whilst appreciating the effortless splendor and magic of the Albatross, one of the surest signs that one has reached the Southern Ocean. Graham Dalton on reported a tough day’s sailing yesterday, with squalls and damage to the leech of his solent foresail. However, the experienced yachtsman seems determined to get home quickly and has been sailing faster than both Knox-Johnston and Unai Basurko. The Basque skipper is still in last place as he nurses his damaged yacht Pakea.