As Stamm sails north-west, the rest of the Velux 5 Oceans fleet struggle through the Doldrums 23/2/07

Velux 5 Oceans race leader Bernard Stamm continues to reach north-west through the North Atlantic, sailing parallel to the coast of South America. Sitting firmly in the north-east trade winds, Swiss Open 60, Cheminées Poujoulat has maintained a speed of just above 13 knots over the past 24 hours – almost double the most recent fleet average.

At 05:00 UTC yesterday morning, Stamm crossed the Equator and entered the North Atlantic after an exhausting period in the Doldrums. Onboard Swiss skipper is still suffering without his watermaker, an essential piece of equipment, which turns seawater into drinking water. But he is making the most of the erratic Doldrums conditions and is collecting fresh rain water to see him through.

Kojiro Shiraishi is suffering down below in the sweltering heat and frustrated by the light airs of the Doldrums that continue to blow head on from the direction he wants to sail in. During this north-easterly slog, the Japanese skipper has dropped 47 miles to the race leader overnight and Spirit of Yukoh now trails Cheminées Poujoulat by 2,100 miles. Shiraishi anticipates he will be struggling all the way to Rio de Janeiro. Despite this frustration, Shiraishi still managed to congratulate race leader Bernard Stamm for crossing the equator.

In third place, 1,180 miles behind Spirit of Yukoh, Basque solo sailor, Unai Basurko is struggling with northerly headwinds, north of the Falkland Islands. Basurko has elected to take Pakea away from land, flat-lining east into the South Atlantic on port tack.

Dalton’s vital pitstop has incurred a 48 hour time penalty but at 10.20 UTC today resumed racing as he takes his place at the back of the fleet. But difficult conditions for Pakea and Saga Insurance are hampering both boats as they record a dramatic drop in speed and so, as A Southern Man – AGD re-joins the tournament, there is everything to play for.

Saga Insurance has sailed passed Port Stanley and back into fourth place with a 45 mile lead this morning. Sir Robin is now just 372 miles behind third placed Unai Basurko having already gained 128 miles since re-starting the race near Ushuaia.