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Unai Basurko celebrates third overall

by Justine Ozoux on 6 May 2007
Even a huge thunder storm with lightening and hail couldn’t dampen the mood in Bilbao (Basque Country, Spain) this morning. The Basque people came out in their thousands to hail their local hero, Unai Basurko, as he completed the VELUX 5 OCEANS around the world yacht race.

With hundreds of boats out on the water and thousands lining the shore along the entire river entrance, a jubilant Basurko celebrated a podium finish, beating Sir Robin Knox-Johnston into third place in the overall rankings. Although he finished fourth in the third leg from Norfolk, Virginia (USA), behind the British sailing legend, he managed to arrive in time to secure third.

As Basurko crossed the finish line at 10:03 local time (08:03 GMT), a flotilla of hundreds followed the Basque skipper up to the Puente Colgante bridge, Basurko’s spiritual landmark, before returning to the port of Gexto. Thousands of fans lined the route and welcomed their hero into Gexto. 158 days, 18 hours and 25 minutes after leaving home, a proud Basurko jumped off PAKEA and joined the elite group of people who have sailed around the world alone. He is the only rookie to have completed The Ultimate Solo Challenge in this edition, a testament to his dedication and passion for his sport.

Speaking from the crowded marina in Gexto, Basurko commented, 'I am very pleased to be on land and to see so many friendly places. It has been such an amazing welcome home. I have done it! I have done it! It is a moment that you imagine during the entire journey, normally with sunshine, certainly not with strong winds and rain. To see so many people despite the weather and the big seas is brilliant. It shows that the people have engaged with the race and understand how difficult it is to sail around the world. I am the rookie of the race, and with so little time to prepare my boat I never expected to get to Fremantle let alone finish third. I have overcome all the problems and gone from nothing to everything.'

'I hadn’t seen land since America, I didn’t see Galicia or Asturias because of the cloud, so the first land I saw was my home, the Basque Country. It was very emotional arriving here. PAKEA left but PAKEA returned. You have to enjoy it and be part of it. There are lots of bad moments, but for every bad moment there are three or four good moments. This is the best moment and thinking of coming home has kept me going through the hardest points.'

David Adams, Race Director of the VELUX 5 OCEANS, added, 'Unai’s spectacular arrival marks the end of what has been an incredible race since day one. The Basque people have taken this race and our skippers into their hearts and it was fitting that we should celebrate the end of the race with Unai’s arrival and his podium finish. Unai is a young skipper and has constantly improved as the race continued and he got to know his boat. He certainly deserves the third place finish and the welcome he received from Bilbao was very much deserved.'
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