Bernard Stamm encounters rough seas as he rounds Cape Horn in the Velux 5 Oceans 7/2/07


By mid-afternoon yesterday, Velux 5 Oceans race leader, Bernard Stamm, had lined-up Cheminées Poujoulat for a tight rounding of Cape Horn, heading due east 90 miles west of the world’s southernmost cape. Shortly before 21:30 UTC last night, the Swiss skipper scorched passed the Horn on a single gybe at 16 knots, leaving the infamous island to port: Stamm reported: “Cape Horn was rough, but I could see the rock very well”. After sailing over 4,000 miles of bottomless Pacific Ocean abyss, Stamm encountered harsh conditions as the sea bed rose to just 68 metres off the cape: “The waves became very big when I arrived in the shallow water,” he continued, ” and the wind had blown up to 50 knots.”

The 05:08 UTC position poll places Stamm 44 miles south of Isla de Los Estados, north-east of Cape Horn in the South Atlantic: Stamm admits: “It is good to be out of the South Pacific. At least I didn’t see any icebergs but it remains always a doubt when you are sailing.” Overnight, Cheminées Poujoulat has banked an extra 57 miles over Spirit of Yukoh in second place: this lead of 1,810 miles is the probable reason for Stamm’s decision to avoid slipping through the Le Maire Strait, a narrow and dangerous 15 mile wide channel between mainland Argentina and the Isla de Los Estados, opting instead for the longer route and continuing north-east.

Meanwhile, in mid-Pacific, Kojiro Shiraishi continues due east, taking the Japanese Open 60 above the latitude of the second mandatory race ice gate, holding off any advance by third place Unai Basurko 1,000 miles to the west. Earlier this morning, Basurko reported a rip in his headsail, explaining that any effective repairs would have to wait until the sail was dry. Having passed Ice Gate 1, Basurko will soon decide whether to take Pakea back into the south.

Basurko’s northern position and sail damage has allowed Kiwi skipper, Graham Dalton, to steal 14 miles from the Spanish yacht, taking the Open 50, A Southern Man – AGD to within 96 miles of Pakea. Currently further south than Pakea, off Basurko’s starboard quarter, Dalton reported 28 knots of breeze at latitude 52° South, assuring the race office that all was well onboard: “Just another day at the office,” he said this morning.

As Knox-Johnston faced a gruelling night fixing the headboard car that attaches the top of the mainsail to the mast track on Saga Insurance, he is now able to sail with a small area of mainsail, hoisted to just below the third reef. With reduced sail, Saga Insurance lost miles overnight on fourth place A Southern Man – AGD. Knox-Johnston now trails the yellow Open 50 by 43 miles.