He has spent more than 500 days alone at sea in the last fifteen years, racing under extreme conditions around the planet earth. Sleeping in brief catnaps around the clock, subsiding on dehydrated food, and enduring the physical and mental challenges of solo racing around the globe on a high tech 60-foot race boat may sound appalling to some, while Van Liew keeps asking for more. He is the very first American to ever officially finish three solo races around the globe. He is also the first person worldwide to sweep all legs of the VELUX 5 OCEANS race for two complete events. Today he crossed the finish line to win 1st Place in the VELUX 5 OCEANS 2010-11 race aboard his Le Pingouin ECO 60 boat claiming victory as the only entry from the USA and undoubtedly America’s finest solo ocean racer.
“I feel the exuberance and joy of winning an incredible race and experiencing the unforgettable journey of sailing around the world alone,” said Van Liew while waiting outside the locks to enter La Rochelle’s historic Harbor. “There is just nothing else in the world like it. The challenges are unique and can be dangerous and invigorating at the same time. It is a test of the soul and involves reaching deep to overcome physical and mental challenges I have seen nowhere else in sport or life.”
Van Liew has competed in this epic solo race twice before aboard 50-foot race boats, taking third place as an underdog entry in 1999 and winning first place in his class in 2003 with a convincing cumulative lead of 21 days. The VELUX 5 OCEANS race of 2010-11 marks his first race on a 60-foot race boat and the introduction of the ECO-60 class. Each competitor is challenged with not only sailing around the world alone, but also showcasing sustainable practices that care for the delicate ocean environment.
Van Liew and his Team Lazarus Project are supported by an important group of sponsors, including Ondeck, Cape Wind, South Carolina State Ports Authority, Newport Shipyard, Garden & Gun Magazine, Gill North America, Samson Ropes, B&G, Simrad, Awlgrip, AlpineAire, Grawnola, and several others.
The Velux 5 Oceans started from La Rochelle in France on October 17, 2010 and features five ocean sprints. After heading from La Rochelle, France to Cape Town, South Africa, the fleet sailed across the vast Southern Indian Ocean to Wellington, New Zealand. From there, the racing yachts sailed to Punta del Este, Uruguay, and then up the Atlantic to Charleston, South Carolina. Van Liew is the first to finish the final stretch across the Atlantic to France for the finish, while Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski (POL), Derek Hatfield (CAN), and Chris Stanmore-Major (GBR) are expected to finish in the next 48 hours.
The VELUX 5 OCEANS is the Ultimate Solo Challenge, the ultimate human endeavor. More than 500 people have been into space, less than 180 have sailed round the world solo, and only 73 skippers have finished the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The VELUX 5 OCEANS is a series of five high-pressure ocean sprints within a marathon 30,000-nautical mile circumnavigation. The race, run every four years since 1984, has a rich heritage which has given rise to some of the world’s best sailors. The VELUX 5 OCEANS is not only the longest round the world yacht race but at nearly 30 years old is also the longest running. Always at the forefront of ocean racing innovation, the 2010/11 VELUX 5 OCEANS will see the premiere of the Eco 60 class of yachts, pushing a message of sustainability, accessibility and affordability. For more information visit www.velux5oceans.com.
CHRIS Stanmore-Major has been forced to carry out vital repairs to his yacht Spartan in the middle of the Southern Ocean after a 2.5-metre rip developed in his mainsail. The 33-year-old from Cowes, UK, had been chasing the leading pack in the third sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world yacht race when disaster struck.
Despite blasting along through big seas en route to Cape Horn, Stanmore-Major, known as CSM, had no choice but to drop Spartan’s huge mainsail onto the deck to attempt a repair in the freezing, wet conditions.
CSM said: “I was about to change my mainsail from the second reef to the third reef. As I went to pull the reef in one of the screws that holds the mainsail track onto the mast caught on one of the sliders and the main would neither go up nor come down. It took about an hour to sort all that out. I tried to bear away and slow the boat down but by the time I got the slider moving again I looked along the sail and saw a huge rip had opened up in the back of the mainsail. The rip is about 2.5 metres long along the leech and the back 200mm of my sail is hanging off.
“It’s put a real crimp on proceedings. I’ve got the big Solent headsail up but it can’t pull as well the mainsail can push, so where we were doing about 15 knots we’re now doing 10 or 11 knots. It took two days for me to get into this position but now I have to sail a higher angle and that’s going to slow me down considerably.”
Over the past few days CSM, currently in fourth place, had been catching third placed Derek Hatfield, the gap between the two reducing from 160 nautical miles at the beginning of the week to 140 nautical miles yesterday.
“It’s a real disappointment but I’m doing the best I can,” CSM added. “It could be an interesting 24 hours. I’ve got to get the top part of that big mainsail off the boom, control it on the deck, lash it down as best I can then stretch out the ripped section of sail on the deck and get it stuck back together.
“At the moment I’ve got 35 knots on deck coming over the port quarter. The boat is making good speed still so there’s a lot of spray. The sail weighs just short of 200 kilos. I don’t have to move the whole lot but I do have to be very careful not to lose control otherwise it could be disastrous. Although I will lose a bit more ground on the rest of the fleet it is vital that I fix the tear. It’s something that I do once and I do right. Leaving it as it is would just result in the tear getting bigger. It’s just not an option.”
CSM is due to exit the easterly speed gate later today. He has less than 2,000 nautical miles to go until he reaches Cape Horn, the next major milestone on the sprint to Punta del Este in Uruguay.
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: 2741.7/ 0/ 279.6/11.7
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 2942.2/200.5/251/10.5
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 2974/232.4/ 243/10.1
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 3201.5/ 459.8/ 149.8/ 6.2
American ocean racer Brad Van Liew today sailed into Cape Town to claim victory in the first ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The 42-year-old from Charleston, South Carolina, blasted across the in Table Bay at 5.51pm local time (3.51pm UTC).
While American Brad Van Liew has been revelling in his victory in the first ocean sprint of the
VELUX 5 OCEANS, the rest of the fleet have been making frustratingly slow progress towards Cape Town. Light airs have dogged Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski, Derek Hatfield and Chris Stanmore-Major as they battle their way to the finish line of the 7,400 nautical mile leg whichstarted in La Rochelle on October 17.
Frustration has swept through the fleet, now tantalisingly close to Cape Town. At the last position report at midday UTC second placed Gutek and his Eco 60 yacht
Operon Racing were just 560 nautical miles from the line but in the previous 24 hours covered just 121 nautical miles.
“Right now I have no wind,” the 36-year-old Pole said. “I am sailing very, very slowly.
During the last three days I made less distance than I would normally in 24 hours. The longer I sail the slower I go. I keep looking back for the boys, but I don’t think they will catch me because they won’t have any good wind either.”
He is right – Canadian Derek Hatfield was today experiencing equally frustrating conditions on Active House
Statistics from 12pm UTC position report:
Skipper; distance to finish (nm); distance covered in last 24 hours (nm); average speed in last
24 hours (kts)
Brad Van Liew: finished Nov 14, 28 days, 1 hour, 51 mins
Gutek: 562.3; 523.6; 121.8; 5.1
Derek Hatfield: 1,067.1; 207.2; 8.6
Sole US Entry in Velux 5 Oceans Race Looks to Boat’s Origins and Professional Design Team for Name, Branding
It’s not a comfortable position, but Brad Van Liew has been here before.
Just a few short months away from the start of a world-class sailing race that sends skippers around the globe alone, Van Liew is mentally and physically prepared to win. He has a stellar racing machine, fine-tuned by the best in the business. His boat’s electronics package, cameras and communication gear, and renewable energy systems are in place. His shore support team and family are primed for this – one of the most exciting adventures possible. Tens of thousands of fans are ready to follow Brad’s adventure online. Yet despite all this, Van Liew is still missing one major piece of the puzzle: A corporate partner to name the boat and brand some 8,000 square feet of space onboard.
“I’ve done this race twice before, and I’ve always had faith that ‘if you build it, they will come,’” Van Liew said. “It’s financially risky and requires some serious intestinal fortitude, but a project like this doesn’t fit into the standard mold for sports sponsorship in the USA, and it always seems we need to put the ‘canvas’ in front of sponsors for them to understand and appreciate the potential.”
Van Liew’s ‘ECO 60′ is one of the fastest of its kind, a high-tech, carbon fiber thoroughbred racing yacht, designed from the ground up for singlehanded, transoceanic racing. He has christened the boat “Le Pingouin” – a name that harkens back to the boat’s original days, when French solo racer Catherine Chabaud named it after the birds that she would see as she passed remote rocky islets like the Kerguelens in the desolate Southern Ocean. The yacht has been registered with that name ever since, even when companies like Whirlpool, Tiscali, and Pro-Forms had their names emblazoned on the deck and hull from stem to stern. Today, a different kind of logo covers the boat’s hull – a fierce, determined penguin set against NASCAR yellow – that signals Brad’s intent to dominate this race as he did in 2002-3 with Tommy Hilfiger. Charleston creative design firm Cre843 developed the original artwork to showcase the vast potential for corporate visuals on the hull, deck and sails.
“Our friends at Cre843 did a gorgeous job with the graphics, and like me, the penguin thrives in cold water and does whatever it needs to survive in any weather,” said Van Liew. “But despite the integrated look, we’ve designed the logo job to be easily removable, leaving a blank canvas for prospective title sponsors to wrap the boat with graphics and logos that best represent their company.” A big racing boat like this is one of the most innovative and effective mobile billboards there are, and the value comes from the personalization of the sponsor’s brand in the non-stop drama and media exposure over the 9 months of the race, through locations on 5 continents in premium markets around the world.
When asked if he is nervous with the race start looming, Van Liew nodded with a slight grin. “Balance Bar came aboard just weeks before our start in ’98, while Tommy joined us just a few months before the 2002 race, so we’re unfortunately used to the uncertainty,” he said. Both partnerships were extremely successful, generating millions in media value and seeing Van Liew on the covers of major national magazines and newspapers, and interviewed via satellite on national TV networks. Van Liew placed 3rd in class as a rookie in the ’98 event, and dominated his class in the ’02-3 race, setting records for every leg. He’s confident that 2010 will once again provide a turn-key opportunity for a company that’s ready to think ‘outside the box’ of traditional marketing.
What if Van Liew doesn’t secure a title sponsor before the October start? “I’ll just rely on my amazing team, stalwart supporters, the great sponsors we’ve already partnered with, and the thousands of volunteers and donors that have brought me this far, and we’ll go win another one.”
When Van Liew finishes the Velux 5 Oceans 2010-11 race, he will become the first American in history to officially finish three solo round-the-world races. Companies supporting Van Liew’s campaign include B&G, Simrad, Gill, Samson, Awlgrip, Harken, High and Dry Boatworks, West Marine, Alpine Aire, Detyens, CMMC Machine, Charleston Rigging, Pierside Boatworks, Seabreeze Marina and many others.
The Velux 5 Oceans starts from La Rochelle in France on October 17, 2010 and features five ocean sprints. After heading from La Rochelle, France to Cape Town, South Africa, the race heads across the vast Southern Indian Ocean to Wellington, New Zealand. From there, the racing yachts will head to Salvador, Brazil, then up the Atlantic to Charleston, USA before returning across the ocean to France to the finish.