Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss chases the 5 Oceans Race leader on motorway south 20/11/06

Having stormed through into second place behind Bernard Stamm on Cheminees Poujoulat over the weekend, Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss continues to make pace in the Velux 5 Oceans Race.

Thomson’s smart tactical decision to break from the leading pack resulted in a leap from fourth overtaking Kojiro Shiraishi on Spirit of Yukoh (JPN) on Friday, and Mike Golding’s Ecover (GBR) late Saturday night. He is now pushing hard in the the Roaring Forties and continues to eat in to the race leader’s lead – about 700 miles away. Meanwhile Golding in third place is 70 miles behind Thomson and Shiraishi is a further 60 miles back.

Having climbed to second place, Thomson knows that his position is vulnerable and Golding is a constant threat commenting yesterday: “Golding will not be happy to be behind me, especially as he had a good 200 miles on me a week ago and is sailing a faster, newer boat.

“He [Golding] is also a master down here in the South. It seems he spends most of his winters down here going eastabout or westabout, and during the Vendée he was fast, very fast. I need to be careful not to be drawn into a 5,000 nautical mile match race in big winds and big seas.”

Stamm the leader is currently (at 0532 position poll this morning) just 240 miles from rounding the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of South Africa. While rounding the first of the three Great Capes is a fundamental landmark, it is almost academic for the Swiss skipper who will pass approximately 900 miles south of the legendary African headland, skimming across the top of the Furious Fifties.

In a brief message to the race organisation yesterday, Stamm reported the changing conditions on Cheminees Poujoulat as the boat digs deeper south: “Now it is freezing and everything takes more time” he wrote on Sunday, “the sky is grey and I saw the first albatross.”

Further down the fleet in fifth place, now south of the Equator, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is experiencing south-easterly winds and constant squalls on SAGA Insurance, 590 miles off the coast of Brazil. Commenting Knox-Johnston said: “Its hard work for a singlehander but the rain is cool which is pleasant. No point in wearing clothes in this. If you put on an oily jacket you would be too hot inside, and if you had any other clothing on it would just get soaked.”

Directly north of Knox-Johnston, trailing by 200 miles, Kiwi skipper Graham Dalton on A Southern Man – AGD maintains a 100 mile lead over Basque solo sailor, Unai Basurko with Pakea as the pair pass Recife on Brazil’s eastern tip, racing 300 miles off the coast.