VELUX 5 OCEANS Racers Settle Into Life At Sea

Le PingouinAFTER a perfect start in ideal weather conditions yesterday, the five VELUX 5 OCEANS skippers have been settling into life alone at sea. Their 60ft Eco 60 yachts will be their homes for the nine months as they sail 30,000 miles around the planet.

After 24 hours of racing, American skipper Brad Van Liew is leading the fleet as they make their way through the notorious Bay of Biscay. Renowned for its raging storms, the Bay of Biscay is actually being kind to the sailors. After leaving La Rochelle in a fresh breeze the sailors have now hit light winds of around six knots as a high pressure system moves in.

"Getting out of La Rochelle and the Bay of Biscay is one of the first hurdles," said Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield prior to the race start. "On my last experience during the Vendée Globe we had 50 knots on the first night going upwind. Nine boats came back, four dismasted. The next week is going to be pivotal on the first leg. From here to Cape Finisterre it's going to be fine but after that it's wide open as to what's going to happen."

Hampered by the light winds, the fleet are not expected to reach Cape Finisterre in the north west corner of Spain until tomorrow. It's good news for Belgian sailor Christophe Bullens, who will return to La Rochelle following a 48-hour qualification passage onboard his new yacht Five Oceans of Smiles too.

Christophe already qualified for the VELUX 5 OCEANS in his first boat Five Oceans of Smiles but she was cruelly dismasted on the way to La Rochelle just three weeks before the race start. Christophe will spend a day making final preparations and is expected to set sail from La Rochelle on Thursday. By that time, he could find himself in much more favorable weather conditions than the rest of the fleet.

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC., is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After heading from La Rochelle to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France. The VELUX 5 OCEANS set off from La Rochelle at 4pm yesterday.

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