All Velux 5 Oceans Skippers Safely Past Cape Horn
After almost three weeks at sea, the third ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS is now firmly on the home straight towards Punta del Este and the battle for positions at the back of the fleet couldn’t be tighter. Whilst the toughest part of the 6000 nautical mile leg is now over, there is no time to relax as changeable winds will make the next day or so crucial for the final standings.
Race leader, Brad Van Liew, passed Cape Horn in perfect conditions on Monday 21st, but has endured light winds since turning up into the Atlantic. Although it allowed him time ‘to get some jobs done’ at first, it has lead to a somewhat frustrating week for him, especially as the rest of the pack are making good progress.
“At first the quiet was welcome and I tended to many boat a personal chores that had been neglected” he said, “now I have cleaned, eaten and slept I want my 13 knot averages back!”
Brad’s speeds on Le Pingouin are slowly climbing and in the hour before the 12h00 UTC position reports he averaged 10.8 knots. As long as he maintains the speeds and stays between his chasers and Punta del Este it appears that he will win ocean sprint three as he has done the first two legs of the race, billed as ‘the Ultimate Solo Challenge’.
Behind Brad, the situation is far from resolved. Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Derek Hatfield have been enjoying some good sailing conditions, and at 12h00 UTC only 28 nautical miles separated them.
Gutek and Operon Racing has had a week of highs and lows, having reported a worrying noise coming from his keel earlier in the week, which could have seriously jeopardised his race he then made a euphoric rounding of Cape Horn on Wednesday and since then he seems to have found a way to stabilise the issue:
“Now I have my boat heeled a lot because I noticed it’s a very good position for my keel. When it’s almost horizontal, the 3.5 tons of lead at its end make such a big lever that the keel can’t move. Only when it’s straight down it knocks again” he said, “It’s not very comfortable configuration for the boat, because I can feel she’s tired. It’s not so fast either, but I am satisfied with this solution. “
For Derek on Active House Cape Horn held huge significance, not just as a major achievement in this race, but also to lay to rest the ghost of races past. In the 2002/3 edition of the VELUX 5 OCEANS Derek had a serious incident and pitchpoled and dismasted whilst rounding Cape Horn. He could hardly contain his joy and relief at having got round safely on Wednesday, shortly after Gutek.
“For me Cape Horn was unfinished business, and that box is now ticked. It is such a weight off my shoulders. For the whole leg it’s all that any of us have been thinking about. I feel like I really lucked out, I couldn’t have asked for a better day to round Cape Horn” he said.
Onboard Spartan, Chris Stanmore-Major (CSM) has done an amazing job to make up the distance he lost on Derek and Gutek during his mainsail difficulties. At one stage last week he was almost 600 nautical miles behind Brad, but at today’s 12h00 UTC reports he’d closed that gap to just 222 nautical miles and the gap between him and Derek is a mere 44 nautical miles.
As for what the weather may hold over the next few crucial days, from tomorrow there is a wave of disturbance form the Magellan Strait together with a low pressure bubble from Argentinean pampas; It will give a strong wind current from the South that will be favourable mainly for Gutek, Derek and CSM if he stays with them. Brad will probably have a close reach and a little less wind. Gutek and Derek should have a broad reach, also weakening but potentially lasting until the finish line. The conditions could easily see the second, third and fourth skippers finish within 24 hours of each other, and will make for an exciting close to the sprint, whatever happens.
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: 857.1 / 0 / 143.2 / 6
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 1007.1 / 150 / 140.9 / 5.9
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 1035.5 / 178.4 / 206.1 / 8.6
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 1079.4 / 222.3 / 186 / 7.7