As Stamm sets his sights on Cape Horn, Knox-Johnston gains on Dalton 1/2/07

Race leader Bernard Stamm in his Open 60 Cheminées Poujoulat continues to charge ahead in the Velux 5 Oceans, increasing the distance on second place Kojiro Shiraishi on Spirit of Yukoh.

The Japanese skipper has found fresh breeze after climbing north-east in light airs to reach the mandatory ice gate, currently holding the fleet’s most southerly position, at latitude 54°S.

Bernard Stamm has approximately 1,800 miles of Southern Ocean remaining until reaching Cape Horn early next week and the Swiss solo sailor is holding a north-east heading, aiming to clip the corner of the Pacific’s second ice gate less than 60 miles ahead, before diving back to the south.

Stamm reports: “The wind is always very shifty and I have made a lot of changes to keep on going. I’m looking at the weather in front of me and it is quite complicated with a low-pressure and secondary low pressure. I need to hurry up to avoid a north-easterly wind when I get closer to South America.”

Stamm has also managed to make some repairs while steaming along in the Southern Ocean. The Swiss skipper said: “I have had to change sails and fix an electrical problem at the chart table. It is not so easy to use soldering stuff when the boat is going between 15 and 20 knots. It is not easy to do a precise job in a shaker. But it is done and it works.”

In third place, Basque sailor, Unai Basurko has made a break south to latitude 51°S and continues to head into the Southern Ocean trailing Shiraishi by 964 miles. Earlier this morning, Basurko reported thick fog and poor visibility as Pakea heads straight into the zone 500 miles south-east of New Zealand referred to as ‘Iceberg Alley’ by Bernard Stamm. Graham Dalton on A Southern Man – AGD now trails Basurko by 160 miles while Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is slowly sneaking up behind Dalton on SAGA Insurance, with only 23 miles between them.

Overnight, Dalton and Knox-Johnston took opposing gybes; the Kiwi skipper heading deeper south and Sir Robin taking SAGA Insurance north-east. Knox-Johnston commented that it was a frustrating night; “It went light and variable for four hours and we went nowhere in persistent cold rain.” This has meant a loss of miles on the boats ahead, he explained: “I thought the others might be similarly affected, but not so. Despite being close by, both have taken quite a chunk on us.”