Since passing through 5 north and finishing the speed gate, I have been able to crack off a bit and head more directly to the finish in Charleston. The boat speeds have gone up accordingly and we are now enjoying great trade wind sailing again. The squalls and rain showers lasted a lot longer that normal and have only cleared out this morning as I approach 7 degrees north.
I keep thinking of Gutek and the challenges ahead of him and I can only wish him well and a speedy return to the racecourse. Having been in that situation a few times myself, it takes great strength and fortitude to get through the disappointment. Having got to know Gutek and raced against him, I know he will be back stronger than ever after his forced stop in Brazil.
Luckily I have not had to run the engine at all during this leg as it would make it even hotter inside the boat. The wind generator and the solar panels make all the energy that I need to run the boat and media equipment. I am sleeping outside in the cutty in the cockpit; using a sleeping bag as a sort of tent to make some shade. The sun is relentless in these latitudes.
I spoke to Brad yesterday and he was in great spirits. I’m pushing him and he is pulling me along, great racing.
More soon. Take Care
Watch the latest video from Derek here
Current Positions in the Fleet
Lat/Long Speed Heading Dist to Fin
Brad 6.2838N;44.1476W 13.9 297 2528.6?2
Derek 6.5178N;39.5013W 13.1 305 2709.1?3
Chris 4.0651N;37.4829W 10.9 325 2908.9?4
Gutek 2.0813S;36.2262W 6.7 221 3227.2
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
IT was a wild, wet and windy start to the third sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world yacht race today as the four ocean racers blasted out of Wellington Harbour. Grey, drizzly conditions with strong 25 to 35 knot winds greeted the skippers as they set sail on the sprint to Punta del Este Uruguay, the third of five legs that make up The Ultimate Solo Challenge.
Despite the weather, hundreds of people flocked to Queens Wharf in central Wellington to watch the emotional departure ceremony before thousands lined the city’s waterfront for the race start which took place just a few hundred metres from the shore.
As the starting gun fired at 14.30 local time (0130 UTC) it was American skipper Brad Van Liew, the overall race leader, who was first across the line on Le Pingouin and out towards the first turning mark laid inside the harbour, two nautical miles from the start. But it was Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski on Operon Racing who stole a march on the fleet rounding the turning mark first.
After a dramatic run-up to the start, where he had to fix an oil leak onboard Active House, Canadian Derek Hatfield crossed the start line in third place but overtook Brad Van Liew on the way to the first mark. By the time the racers headed out through Barrett Reef and Pencarrow Head and into the Cook Strait, winds had reached 50 knots. By that point Brad and Derek were already locked in battle, at times just a few boatlengths separating the pair. British skipper Chris Stanmore-Major started the race in fourth after problems with the genoa on Spartan meant he could only put up a storm jib.
The 6,000 nautical mile sprint from Wellington to Punta del Este in Uruguay will see the fleet head deeper into the Southern Ocean than they have been yet as they dip down to the latitude 56 degrees south to get round Cape Horn, the southerly tip of South America. Along the way the skippers will face waves that could reach up to 25 metres tall and winds that will consistently blow between 25 and 40 knots – and often more.
They will also pass Point Nemo, the most remote spot in the world, more than 2,000 nautical miles from land in every direction. After surviving all the Southern Ocean can throw at them they must round Cape Horn, one of the most dangerous bodies of water in the world, where millions of tonnes of water are forced through a 400-mile wide gap between the South American continent and Antarctica.
Run by Clipper Ventures PLC, the VELUX 5 OCEANS started from La Rochelle in France in October and features five ocean sprints. After starting from La Rochelle in October it headed to Cape Town, and then Wellington in New Zealand. The fleet is now on route to Punta del Este in Uruguay and then on to Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France. The 2010/11 edition of the race is the eighth its 28-year history.
“Ocean sprint three really is the pinnacle for me. I liken it to climbing Mount Everest – you have a massive struggle to get to the top but then you have to make it all the way back down again and you still have a long way to go to get to safety. Cape Horn is the summit – once you’ve made it safely round the Horn and you’re into the South Atlantic you can start to rest a little bit easier. Everyone seems to be on edge a little, we’re all a little nervous about the next leg. You’re very exposed in the stretch of water between Wellington and Cape Horn, there’s no commercial traffic, just 4,000 miles of ocean. When you’re halfway to Cape Horn you’re further from land in any one direction than astronauts in space. That gives you an idea of just how far away from civilization you are. That’s the biggest challenge.
“During my first round the world race in 2002, the Around Alone, my boat pitchpoled in 80 knots of wind and 60ft waves. My mast broke and I had to pull into Argentina. I managed to fix it and carry on to finish the race so I got round, but I didn’t see Cape Horn. In my second round the world race I dismasted south of Australia so I didn’t make it to the Horn. My hope in this race is to get round the Horn cleanly and safely and get up quickly to Punta without any big incidents. Because of that incident in 2002 I have a massive respect for this next section of the race.
“With some good luck and a lot of hard work I think I could win this leg. That’s my goal. The competition is getting tougher as the race goes on, as we all get more used to our boats. Of course, the boats are getting more and more tired. It’s all about perseverance, just like a marathon. You have to keep up the pace but you also have to keep the boat together. It’s all part of the game.”
Brad Van Liew:
“The biggest challenge with ocean sprint three is Cape Horn. Job number one is getting round the Horn safely. The reality of this leg is that you can get rough weather at any time, even after Cape Horn, but the biggest concern for me is getting round Cape Horn safely.
“My aim is to get well stuck in to the leg, approach it with a good attitude and try to reboot a little after the experience of ocean sprint two. I’ll try to get down south enough to hook into those westerlies, all the time watching out for ice, and then round the Horn safely. A certain amount of that comes down to the luck of what the conditions are when you get there. If it’s going to be bad weather I’ll have to play that system, either putting the handbrake on or heading north a bit – the thing to avoid is ending up right on the shelf at Cape Horn.
“The thing that’s so dangerous about Cape Horn is the passage is so narrow – you’ve got to thread the needle. It also gets shallow very quickly there so you have this huge amount of water and weather being forced between the Andes and Antarctica. The water moving through there is going from thousands of metres deep to very shallow, very quickly.
“I wouldn’t say I am scared, more apprehensive. Everyone will have a little bit of apprehension – it’s Cape Horn after all. I’m just going to go out there, sail hard and have a good time doing it within my boat’s ability and my ability. I’ve got to be careful, I’m not going to go in gung ho. I’m just going to sail as fast as is safe and enjoy the chess match that us skippers play.”
“Cape Horn is obviously the biggest challenge of the next sprint. It’s a famous point in the ocean and rightly so. The world’s currents and winds circle the planet completely unimpeded until they get to Cape Horn. There things get pretty spicy.
“Normally if big heavy weather system is coming through we can head up north to avoid it but on this leg we are pinned in position by the landmass of South America. Anything that comes through we will just have to ride it out. Getting away from the coast of New Zealand will be the first challenge and then the next big one will be “Cape Horn. Once round the Horn heading towards Uruguay it will become very tactical.
“Cape Horn is a new challenge for me. I have never done it before but I know what is coming and how rough it’s going to be and I’m not looking forward to it. The boat proved itself so much on the last leg, she really got smashed around and came out on top. I know she can take whatever is thrown at her on the next leg.
“I had some hassle from the boat on the first leg, and on the second leg I was the one that messed up. I’m going to be more conservative with tactics on this next leg. I will be paying particular attention to tactics once round Cape Horn. The boat has great pace and potential and could beat any other boat in the fleet – it just comes down to me.
“I can mix it up with the other guys. Spartan has needed very little work to it while the others have been working quite hard on theirs. As long as I can get into the groove I think you could see good things from Spartan and I. I relish the challenge that being on the ocean brings. I have learnt such huge lessons each day I’m onboard and I really enjoy it.”
“The next leg will be similar to the last one, back into the Southern Ocean, but this time we will be going even deeper south. It’s an empty place without any life. To be honest the passage to Cape Horn will be quite straightforward – where it is going to get tactical is after rounding the Horn. Once in the South Atlantic, this is where the leg could be won or lost.
“You can never plan for the Southern Ocean – it is never the same conditions twice, there are always different winds, temperatures, waves. You must always stay alert, use your brain and look around you at what is happening. This is what you have to do to survive the Southern Ocean.
“The most important thing is to keep the boat in one piece. After Cape Horn, it will all be about tactics. One mistake and you could lose lots of miles on the other skippers. I will always be looking for slip-ups by the other skippers and if there is an opportunity to pass them I will take it.”
Polish skipper gives all in gruelling Southern Ocean leg
POLISH solo sailor Zbigniew Gutkowski crossed the VELUX 5 OCEANS sprint two finish line
after exactly a month at sea to claim second place. In an adrenaline-fuelled race the 36-year-old from Gdansk, known as Gutek, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, less than 24 hours behind leg winner Brad Van Liew.
Gutek sailed across the finish line on his 60ft Eco 60 yacht Operon Racing at 6.27am local time (5.27pm UTC) as the sun rose over the city before berthing in Queens Wharf at around 8.30pm to the cheers of watching crowds. It brought an end to a gruelling Southern Ocean leg which saw him overcome huge waves and strong winds despite major problems with his autopilot, the electronic system used to steer the boat. During ocean sprint two Gutek sailed 7,753 nautical miles at an average speed of 10.3 knots.
“I’m really happy to be on dry land, alive and in one piece,” Gutek said as he stepped off
Operon Racing. “The boat is also in one piece too which is great considering I have spent more than three weeks with major problems with my autopilot. There is a big difference between the Southern Ocean and the Atlantic. The Southern Ocean is no joke. There are monstrous waves and huge gusts – 50 knots is normal. If you make one mistake you could lose your mast or even your life. For the first time in my life I was scared, and I took a real battering in this leg.”
Ocean sprint two has seen some of the closest racing in the VELUX 5 OCEANS so far with
positions changing frequently as the fleet battled through the huge winds and mountainous seas that characterise the bleak Southern Ocean leg. Gutek held the lead for a number of days over Christmas before being overtaken by Brad. A bold tactical decision to sail up the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island saw Gutek make up hundreds of miles on his race rivals.
Among the crowds waiting to welcome Gutek to Wellington was his wife Eliza and their 11-yearold daughter Zusanna. Gutek added: “I haven’t seen my daughter since I left La Rochelle back in October and just in two months she has changed so much. Seeing Zusanna and my wife again is an absolute pleasure.”
For second place Gutek is awarded ten points which are added to the points he won for taking second in the first ocean sprint from La Rochelle, France, to Cape Town.
Ocean sprint two positions at 18h00 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: finished January 16, 30 days, nine hours, 49 mins
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: finished January 17, 31 days 8 hours and 27 mins
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 199.3/ 0 / 208.4 / 8.
A New Years posting from the Velux 5 Oceans Skippers
An excerpt from Leader Brad Van Liew’s blogspot:
”2011! Wow, are you kidding?? That makes me really middle aged. I thought that would never happen, but bring it on! I have the distinct pleasure of ringing in the New Year in the middle of nowhere with no champagne, no woman to kiss at midnight, no ball dropping and nobody to sing that “old acquaintance be forgot” song that must be sung in unison annually. Instead, I will be pondering the meaning of life in what is forecast to be a moderate Southern Ocean sailing experience with all my Southern Ocean friends.
What will I do for New Year’s 2011?
First, Le Pingouin (LP) and I will have a chat as she has a lot to say about being middle aged. Boats live in dog years.? It is about seven years to one human year so she actually just broke through 60 years old. She also has more circumnavigations under her voluminous brazier than I do. She has done this race twice before and the Vendee globe twice as well, so this is her 5th solo circumnavigation race while it is my 3rd. It is quite amazing to think that she had more than 150,000 miles in global racing mileage before we even started this adventure. The ole girl is still one of the fastest monohulls ever conceived. Combined LP and I have spent more than a year of our lives hanging out down here in the most remote place on Earth. I still feel hardly welcome and am a strong advocate for the “tread lightly and garner safe passage” theory to get through this inhospitable but beautiful place.
Following my chat with LP, I will speak with the animals that constantly escort me along my route. The birds here are fantastic. They seem so fragile as they fly in circles around the boat and flitter about in the wake of LP as we charge along. Regardless of the weather they are always there and seem genuinely interested in why I would be asking for permission to transit their private place on Earth. The flock of birds I constantly encounter represent as many different sizes and shapes as the fleet of aircraft man has built, and they look their part. The Albatross look like B52 bombers with huge glider shaped wings and robust torsos as they fly forever while seemingly never flapping their wings. On the other end of the spectrum are the petrels which are like little compact fighter jets that zip around and jet through the waves, flapping their wings to give them super speed like they are using an afterburner.
Finally on this special transition to 2011, I will speak to the things that I hopefully won’t see. This includes the whales (of which I have only seen one since leaving Cape Town) and the icebergs which harbor so much of our world’s ecosystem in their frigid existence.
The primary message that I will try to convey to this watery world as we enter 2011 is an apology. I’d like to be an “eyes wide open” witness to the impact our human existence has on this place. Maybe I am a lone ambassador of sorts? As I write this I am sailing in 9 degree Celsius water in a place that should have far cooler water temperature. I am sailing deliberately further north than ever before because the Antarctic convergence (ice zone) is hundreds of miles further north than when I first sailed the Southern Ocean in 1998. The birds are far less in numbers than I have ever experienced, and the whales… well, we all know that story. My message will be a hollow New Year’s apology because I need to be honest with my friends down here. There is really nothing being done that will change the tide of globalization and human growth. We can hope that the pioneers of sustainability and green energy will be rewarded for tangible results. We can hope that rather than a typical New Year’s resolution that is a lot of promise and little movement, that maybe the human population of our fragile home will put some action behind the rhetoric.
I don’t pretend to know how much we affect this place through our actions and I am a firm believer that cyclic global temperatures are a natural weather occurrence, so I don’t wish to be tied up in the politics of it all. I just speak of plane facts that we know we can change. The whales are gone because we kill them for food and resources we no longer need. The bird population is off because we kill them with bad fishing practices and by throwing trash in the water that they eat. This planet is 70% covered in water. The life and delicate balance that water provides is the brine from which all known life came. Can you imagine if that balance is upset? Water can take the life away just as easily, and in a much shorter time, than it was given. The oceans provide every ounce of water we drink. If the ice caps were to melt (which they are) the vast majority of the world’s cities will become submerged. The sun and water are the two things that make every weather anomaly occur.
For crying out loud, the human body is something like 80% water isn’t it? We better start taking care of our oceans or they aren’t going to be here to take care of us.
This will be the somber but special New Year’s message I will share with my friends in the Southern Ocean. It will be a very “glass is half full” conclusion, basically stating that mankind is good and wants to continue to exist, and that we will do as a race what we have to do to survive.
Happy New Year’s and may you all take a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of the natural world in 2011.
Derek Hatfield gives an update on his southern ocean holiday.
“The Southern Ocean is full of extremes and the last twenty four hours proves it in spades. For the past day, all three of us at the front have been heading SE on strong winds with gusts to 30 kts. Boat speeds have been in the high teens and it has been a neck and neck drag race. About two hours ago I experienced one of the most dramatic transitions in my sailing career. The cloud cover was very low and it was raining; within
2 minutes the wind went from 28 kts to 10 kts and changed directions by 45 degrees. Leaving Active House wallowing in the huge waves undercanvassed. The wind has backed now by a permantent 45 degrees and within an hour the sun had come out. Such exteame weather changes are both humbling and awe inspiring.
Here’s to another year past that hopefully was a good one for each of you. And for 2011, I hope that all of your goals and aspirations come true. Happy New Year to you and your families and friends from Active House and the Spirit of Canada team.
Take Care. Be safe.
Chris Stanmore-Major reflects on his holiday.
I was throwing a reef in this morning and I suddenly realised that I was doing it right. I was moving efficiently; things were happening in their proper order and the whole procedure seemed quite tranquil and, dare I say it, professional compared to the frenetic machinations that have normally occurred when I have stepped up to reef in worsening weather previously. This morning despite 30kts coming on really quite quickly I felt on top of the situation and sure of what I was doing. Even when a reef line became tangled on its self and I had to crawl out to the end of the boom to free it. No problem I thought – I know where I’m going, how to get there and what I have to do once there to remedy the situation. It was exciting but wonderfully uneventful. It was a curious thing to stand there at the mast once it was all done – with the reef in, the boat back on course and all the little problems dealt with swiftly and reflect on the contrast between this and my first reefing experiences in the North Atlantic in October.
I remember I was nervous as hell and felt out of my depth in those early days, ventured forward to the mast each time I had to reef. The boat invariably was headed far too far up wind and she would be bucking and crashing through the waves like a submarine. With the main still not out far enough she would be sailing on her ear with the lee decks underwater and precious little it seemed for me to hold onto save the winch handle and the sail. The wind would be howling and the sail totally uninterested in what I wanted it to do. The noise of that huge spectra sail flogging its self silly, the angle of the decks and the knowledge that it was just me in charge of this asylum was enough to make me want to curl up and die. In response I would bellow at myself as I used to do to crew in heavy weather, issuing instructions (to myself), providing a supporting narrative (for myself) and pushing myself to keep going whatever went wrong (and a lot used to go wrong). I guess in the midst of shouting I was distracted enough not to notice how scared I was. This is not a new technique, I know – I have seen it in use on many boats over the years. This was just my turn and as there was no one to insult but myself, it worked.
I’m not sure exactly when all my dues were paid and I suddenly became a competent Open 60 mast man- probably over Christmas sometime where there was a lot of reef in, reef out action and in the bitter cold I had to stay focused on the task lest it take ages – leaving me cold and wet again. I have adapted things at the mast now to make things easier for myself – I have put marks on everything to provide references and developed a procedure in my head I must follow religiously but as this has happened I have also adapted continually to the job adjusting my technique in response to the cues given by the boat and making light of the attendant trouble. Not enough halyard tension? Tonight Chris you’re going away with a broken mast track! Not enough reefline on? My friend you win a chafed reefline! And little by little through perseverance to the task of learning how to reef, not just reefing but standing back and learning how to reef I have come to a point where I can tick a box in my mind and say,’ yes I can do that’ and move on to something else.
Is it funny for me to be halfway across the Southern Ocean in a solo Open 60 race and admit I have only just mastered something as basic as good reefing practice on the very boat I am trusting my life to? Maybe but bear in mind I am talking about learning ‘best practice’ here not just jogging along problem solving everything as I go. The only way to really be at home here and fast is for everything to become second nature and slick, not cobbled together and guessed at which is what gets
impossible dreams off the ground but doesn’t win races.
I think we all have these gaps in our knowledge that we step around each day thinking, ‘I must brush up on that one day’. Words we skip in reading as after however many years we still don’t really know what it means, parts of our work that remain mysterious and unknown and in leaving these stones unturned we do ourselves a disservice as I think we can never reach our full potential if we do not continue to adapt ourselves to life’s challenges by constant learning and review. I hope to forever remain a student constantly looking to improve my understanding both of sailing and the wider world as the joy of finally, by George! Getting it- whatever ‘it’ may be is a pleasure that just doesn’t age.
What is next? Well, next learning task will be good gybing – you would believe how cringe worthy that can be when it all goes wrong in 30kts – ah the fun I’ve had, boat on its side and going backwards. Also this evening I have a new question to ponder- why do I know so much about ‘My Fair Lady’?
THE second sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world yacht race got underway
from Cape Town today bound for Wellington in New Zealand. With the iconic Table Mountain
providing a stunning backdrop, the fleet of five international ocean racers crossed the start line
beginning a gruelling 7,000 nautical mile sprint across the Southern Ocean through some of the
worst weather conditions known to man.
The original start of ocean sprint two had been planned for Sunday but it was postponed due to
gale-force winds and huge seas off the coast of South Africa. The VELUX 5 OCEANS race
committee constantly monitored the weather forecasts until they felt there was a suitable
window in the weather to allow for a safe race start.
The fleet set sail from Cape Town in their 60ft Eco 60 yachts in around 15 knots of breeze from
the South East. Canada’s Derek Hatfield on Active House was the first to cross the line, with a
strong start that will make-up for his poor start in La Rochelle. He led the five impressive ocean
racing yachts out of Table Bay and into open water where the wind dropped considerably in the
shadow of the mountain. Tactics will now come into play with all five skippers trying to find some
breeze to take them on.
Sprint one winner, Brad Van Liew on Le Pingouin followed Derek over the line, and a smiling
Christophe Bullens on Five Oceans of Smiles Too was third, with this his first start with the
entire fleet obviously meaning a lot to him. Gutek (Zbigniew Gutkowski) and Operon Racing
was next and finally Chris Stanmore-Major aboard Spartan who struggled to get his main sail up
and lost momentum on his way to the start line.
Prior to leaving the dock, ocean sprint one winner Brad Van Liew could not be drawn on his
tactics for the next leg. The 42-year old American has twice competed in the VELUX 5
OCEANS prior to this event, winning class two in the 2002/3 edition of the race.
“I’m just going to go out there, sail my boat and try to stay safe,” said Brad, skipper of Le
Pingouin. “Safety is the key to this leg. I’m very competitive by nature so I will just see what
happens once I’m there. I’m not going to go out all aggressive with a bone in my teeth. I think I’ll
just get stuck into it and let the cycle of the leg do its own thing.”
Canadian ocean racer Derek Hatfield, skipper of Active House, was facing up to the prospect of
Christmas alone at sea. “It will be a bit emotional but I will be able to call in,” the 58-year-old
father of four said. “It’s a special day at home but for me it’s just another day racing. All the days
meld together so when you’re alone at sea there is no real special day. It’s just another race
Howling winds, freezing temperatures and mountainous seas await the skippers as they head
south from Cape Town into the notorious Roaring Forties and Screaming Fifties, named so
because of the sheer force of the winds that are found in those latitudes. The Southern Ocean is the only ocean in the world that is not constricted by land allowing waves and wind to mount
up as they circumnavigate the globe unimpeded.
Run by Clipper Ventures PLC, the VELUX 5 OCEANS started from La Rochelle in France in
October and features five ocean sprints. After heading from La Rochelle to Cape Town, the race
is now headed for Wellington in New Zealand. Following that the race takes in Salvador in Brazil
and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France. The 2010/11
edition of the race is the eighth its 28-year history.
Ocean sprint one results:
1 Brad Van Liew 12 3 15 USA November 14, 28 days, 1 hour, 51 minutes 2 days, 6 hours, six minutes
2 Zbigniew Gutkowski 10 2 12 POL November 17, 31 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes 2 days, 11 hours, 49 minutes
3 Derek Hatfield 9 1 10 CAN November 20, 33 days, 22 hours and 37 minutes 3 days, 0 hours, 17 minutes
4 Chris Stanmore-Major 8 0 8 GBR November 22, 36 days, 0 hours and 44 minutes 3 days, 14 hours, 25 minutes
5 Christophe Bullens 7 0 7 BEL December 6, 49 days, 22 hours and 55 minutes 3 days, 17 hours, 17 inutes
Brad Van Liew:
“The second leg is a tough one to prepare for mentally because it is so different to leg one. This
time round we have to face extreme winds and seas and cold. I’m definitely more apprehensive
than I was at the start in France. This leg is about getting down south and once you’re there
there’s only one way to go. It’s a bit like jumping off a high dive – you’ve just got to commit to it.
It is a daunting leg to get into. I’m just going to go out there, sail my boat and try to stay safe.
Safety is the key to this leg. I’m very competitive by nature so I will just see what happens once
I’m there. I’m not going to go out all aggressive with a bone in my teeth. I think I’ll just get stuck
into it and let the cycle of the leg do its own thing.”
“You never want to be too over-confident with these things because it can be the kiss of bad
luck but the boat is ready and I am ready to leave. The weather is making everyone a bit
nervous and going into the south you can’t underestimate the weather. I have been there twice
and it’s one of those places that if I never went to again I wouldn’t feel too bad! First of all you
don’t want to go there and as soon as you get there you want to get away from it. I feel a bit of
nervousness but I just have to put it to one side and get on with the job and get through the
start. The start is always a nervous time because you have boats romping around on the start
line often in breezy conditions and also each skipper wants to be the first across the line. It’s
important to get across the line cleanly and then settle things down, get into a routine, get round
the Cape and then south of 40 degrees into the westerlies and then high-tail it to Wellington and
be there right after the New Year.
“Leg one was a bit of a trauma for me because I struggled through the first couple of weeks
before I found my stride. I found myself in third place and a little bit behind. I was able to
maintain third place but I’m hoping for better positioning in the next leg. I’m not saying I’m going
to be first or second necessarily but I am hoping to be nearer the front and pushing harder and
be a lot more competitive.
“I don’t feel too bad about spending Christmas away from my family. I have been away for
Christmas before – all these major ocean races seem to involve being away for Christmas. It
will be a bit emotional but I will be able to call in. I know the kids will be with Patianne and their
grandparents and having a good time. It’s a special day at home but for me it’s just another day
racing. All the days meld together so when you’re alone at sea there is no real special day. It’s
just another race day.”
“I’m a little bit nervous about ocean sprint two because of the weather conditions and also the
boat is not yet 100 per cent ready so I am a little bit stressed. The good thing is I know the boat
better now than I did when I left La Rochelle. In that respect the second leg should be easier for
“The big challenge of ocean sprint two is going to be the conditions, the terrain we will be going
through. The Southern Ocean is mountainous; it’s part of the world where the seas can orbit
without stopping. You get huge seas building up, massive winds, and waves that are taller than
the top of the mast. It’s going to be very hard on the boat and very hard on me. We’re going to
get the best the Southern Ocean has got to give. I face it with some trepidation but I have a lot
of confidence in my boat. I think she will be good for it. I am going to take it very gently. You
can’t compete for the overall results if you don’t make it to the finish line. As we came out of
Spain in leg one I was second and I had Brad in my sights. If I can keep my errors down and my
boat in one piece then there’s a chance I can get to the front.”
“For the next leg it’s totally different to the first leg. In comparison, the first leg was easy. The
Southern Ocean is storm conditions nearly all the time. You’ve got to keep the boat in one
piece. Safety comes first, and then the speed of the boat. For sure I will be looking out for Brad
and the other guys and trying to make the best tactical decisions but staying safe is the top
priority. It’s really easy to break something out there and if you do, you’re on your own with no