With only 600 miles to go, Velux 5 Oceans leader Stamm is expected in Norfolk on Sat 28/2/07

Race leader Bernard Stamm is now 600 miles due south of Bermuda, and leads the Velux 5 Oceans fleet by 2,900 miles. His Open 60, Cheminées Poujoulat, is making fast progress directly towards the island, averaging 11.5 knots. With just over 1,000 miles to the finish line, the defending champion expects to arrive at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay this weekend (most likely Saturday) and will extend his overall lead ahead of the short sprint third leg back to Bilbao, Spanish Basque Country.

In second place, sailing parallel to the coast of Brazil, 240 miles offshore, Kojiro Shiraishi has locked into 17 knot easterly breeze, picking up speed overnight and averaging slightly faster speeds than Stamm during the past six hours. For 12 hours, Kojiro was unable to rest, constantly monitoring Spirit of Yukoh through the equatorial squalls and blazing sun.

Shiraishi reported: “It was a tough exhausting night. Since last evening we have had a continuous sequence of squalls with no rest from their attacks. Each starts with a period of no wind building up to a strong gust with waves crashing over the deck. It continued like that until midday today. For the entire 12 hours of squalls I didn’t get any rest. So today was another day of punching and our fiery hot hell. But I have been able to keep a great calm on board and a relaxed heart. A great state of spiritual calm. I am now almost used to the terrible heat.”

“The deck, inside the boat and all the foul weather gear is wet through. It’s a wet, wet boat. If I can get around the shoulder of Brazil I will be in a following wind and will be able to get the boat dried out. Some good news to report though, I had one long lasting squall with plenty of rain. A great chance to wash the hair. It was the first time in 43 days, a good feeling. My head feels light! There are some squalls we can even give thanks too! From a sparkling clean Skipper? Just a bit more to endure.”

Overnight, third place Unai Basurko has recorded the highest speeds of the fleet at just over 12 knots, taking Pakea east in a northerly breeze, gaining a handful of miles from Koji, trailing the Japanese Open 60 by 1,185 miles this morning. Yesterday, Basurko was keen to leave the challenging conditions of the South Atlantic and connect with the North-East Trade Winds. Although Basurko has added 65 miles to his lead over Sir Robin Knox-Johnston since yesterday afternoon, he is still watching the two back markers closely. However, the 05:32 UTC poll shows that Pakea has extended his lead to 446 miles over fourth place SAGA Insurance.

Basurko is still keeping look out for Knox-Johnston and Dalton, he said: “When this complicated week is out of the way, I believe we will reach the trade winds and everything will go better. It is important to be careful when you look towards the bow too much, you can neglect the stern. I believe that Sir Robin and Dalton are having a pretty big fight, they are close together. It is worrying to me because whenever you are fighting someone, you demand more of yourself and now they are coming fast towards me.”

The two back markers have suffered a drop in speed overnight, with fifth place Graham Dalton averaging 7.5 knots, 1 knot faster than Saga Insurance. Dalton’s Open 50, A Southern Man – AGD, is closest to South America, holding the western position, 600 miles off the Patagonian coast, trailing Knox-Johnston by 40 miles.