Derek Hatfield Faces Squalls In The Southern Ocean In Velux 5 Oceans Race
When you’re alone on a 60ft yacht in the depths of the Southern Ocean, thousands of miles from land or help, the last thing you want is to lose to control of your boat. But that was the situation facing Canadian Derek Hatfield last night when he awoke to find his Eco 60 Active House screaming along at a dangerously quick 21 knots, struggling to cope with a Southern Ocean squall.
The 58-year-old solo sailing veteran had been enjoying a rare moment of rest when he was woken from his sleep by the sound of Active House’s keel humming, a sign that she was traveling incredibly fast through the water. He scrambled on deck to find the wind had whipped up to 35 knots and Active House had accelerated from a comfortable 13 knots to 21.
“I was asleep when a squall came through and I woke to the sound of the keel humming,” Derek explained. “I put some foulies on quickly and went on deck to find Active House doing 21 knots. It was unbelievable, she was totally out of control. When you’re asleep and you wake up to that it’s a bit of a shock. It was the middle of the night, pitch black and quite disconcerting.
“I had to slow the boat down she was going so fast. It sounds funny that I would be trying to slow the boat down in a yacht race but it’s all about getting that balance between speed and safety.”
The incident took place near to Point Nemo, the most remote place on the planet, around 2,000 miles from land in every direction. “Going too quickly can get very dangerous very quickly and we are not in a place where you can afford for anything to go wrong,” Derek added.
Derek also revealed that he discovered a water leak in the mid compartment on Active House which he has been bailing out daily. He also had a scare when he went on deck to find the baby stay – the smaller, inner forestay – had disconnected from the deck. Luckily there was no damage and Derek managed to secure the stay using a spare bolt.
“I’ve been full on over the last few days trying to deal with all this stuff and race the boat at the same time,” Derek said. “I feel my speeds and tactics are suffering a little, but I’m doing my best to hang on to Brad and Gutek.”
The 1200 UTC position report polled Derek in third place just under 200 nautical miles behind sprint leader Brad Van Liew and less than 25 nautical miles behind second placed Zbigniew Gutkowski. At midday Derek was 200 nautical miles from the exit of the sprint three speed gate.
Ocean sprint three positions at 12h00 UTC:
Skipper / distance to finish (nm) / distance to leader (nm) / distance covered in last 24 hours (nm) / average speed in last 24 hours (kts)
Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: 3021.3/ 0/ 240.1/10
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 3193.2/171.9/210.2/8.8
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 3217.1/195.8/ 229.5/9.6
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 3351.2/ 329.9/ 263.4/ 11