As the wind continued to drop this afternoon, Kojiro Shiraishi sailed Open 60 Spirit of Yukoh across the finish line offshore Gexto, Bilbao, to complete Leg 3 of the VELUX 5 OCEANS race at 17:56 and 45 seconds European time (16:56 BST, 15:56 UTC).
Kojiro’s tenacious transatlantic crossing ensured that the Japanese skipper rarely let the race leader, Bernard Stamm with Cheminées Poujoulat, more than 100 miles ahead during the 3,200 mile, 11 day "sprint" to Bilbao. For two yachts to finish within an hour of each other after traversing the North Atlantic is a monumental achievement and a testament to the skill and endurance of both skippers.
Kojiro was welcomed by a watery salute from local fire fighting tugs and hundreds of race fans set off flares from around the lighthouse at the end of the Puerto Deportivo breakwater while the Japanese skipper negotiated a route through the hundreds of spectator boats that have gathered to watch two of the sport’s premier solo sailors celebrate the finish of an immense challenge.
During the entire circumnavigation of Velux 5 Oceans race, Bernard Stamm spent a total of 103 days, 22 hours and 10 minutes at sea, holding a 14 day lead over Kojiro who completed the course after 118 days, 1 hour and 42 minutes at sea.