Bernard Stamm Velux 5-Oceans Race leader 500 miles west of Cape Horn prepares for rough rounding 5/2/06

Bernard Stamm and his Open 60 Cheminees Poujoulat look set for another rough ride around the infamous Cape Horn. The Swiss skipper, currently leading the Velux 5-Oceans Race, has never had an easy passage round the Southern tip of the Americas in previous circumnavigations and this journey is shaping up to be no different.

The defending champion has been preparing his yacht for some strong winds as he approaches land for the first time following his rapid crossing of the desolate expanses of the Southern Ocean. Stamm’s pace will drop off before the strong winds hit Cheminees Poujoulat as the weather system to his east moves away from him, but he will then be blasted from the south.

Kojiro Shiraishi and Spirit of Yukoh remain 1,700 miles behind the leader after suffering from uncharacteristically light and frustrating conditions for the Southern Ocean. The weekend saw difficult progress for Koji with heavy fog and fickle winds. But the Japanese skipper is hoping that the end is in sight and believes he may have finally rid himself of the troublesome high-pressure system that has slowed him down for so long. The winds are building more constantly and he expects a good passage to the second way point before pointing his nose at the Horn. Shiraishi will be hoping he can start to eat back into the lead that Stamm has developed while Spirit of Yukoh has been parked up.

Another 1,000 miles back, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on Saga Insurance and Unai Basurko on Pakea have both passed north of the first mandatory wayline, leaving them free to dive south if they so wished. Graham Dalton in fourth on his Open 50 A Southern Man Agd, continues to hold a slight lead over Knox-Johnston in fifth, but the Kiwi skipper still needs to sail north in order to pass through the wayline. Unai Basurko in third place, sailing a new generation of Open 60, continues to extend away from the two back markers, but remains a significant distance behind Kojiro Shiraishi in second place.