Thomson 6 miles from third place
Duel between Akena and Acciona
Duel between Gabart and Le Cléac’h
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) is reaping the rewards of his choice to ascend the South Atlantic along the coast of Brazil and is gaining ground by every position report. Now only 6 miles separates him and current third place Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3). Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) has elected to tackle the St Helena High by going upwind in 15-20 knots in conditions not dissimilar to the leading boats. At the equator, in less than a week, their paths should converge at the equator and they could find themselves side by side.
Last night, Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) entered the Atlantic ocean. They began their ascent to the warmer latitudes neck and neck and only a few hundred metres from Staten Island. Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas), known as Cali, and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) known as Bubi, rounded Cape Horn, 8th and 9th position. This is a second time for “Cali” and a solo first for “Bubi”. He became the third Spanish sailor in history to race round Cape Horn solo. The first was José Luis Ugarte (1990-91 BOC Challenge and Vendée Globe 1992-1993) and Unai Basurko (Velux 5 Oceans 2006-2007). Bubi, caught sight of Arnaud today. It’s incredible that after two thirds of the race, the boats are sailing within each other’s radar.
With the official abandonment of Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) there remains only 12 boats in the race. The skipper of Cheminées Poujoulat’s pitstopped last night on the island of Horn refuelled, charged his batteries, climbed the mast to change a halyard, and to eat some pork and lentils prepared by the girlfriend of Unaï Bazurko. He is now en route towards the Sables d’Olonne. He still needs to regain strength and affix some repairs to his boat so that he can enjoy his sail back.
Leaders soon will be in the tradewinds
The duel between MACIF and Banque Populaire is now stalled by light airs. Around 13:30 (French time), François Gabart was the first to tack into the wallow of the St. Helena High. He is now sailing on starboard tack in a lightening wind to the northeast and east. As a result, the gap of 85 miles between the two men should now increase.
There are the dueling duos and then there are solitary competitors battling alone. North of the Falklands, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) is ensconced in fifth position in lighter winds not making as much headway as he would prefer.
Mike Golding (Gamesa) is at 178 miles behind Jean Le Cam, who went to the west of the island group whilst Golding is going east, but he feels he can still reduce that deficit.
“I think he will be struggling a little in a bit and has to come this way. We have a long runway in this breeze. Longer term our weather is reasonably complicated. It is not as bad as for the guys in front. It is good with this lateral separation with Jean, it would certainly be good to get back to 100 miles.
“But overall I’d take more nights like the last one, the boat was going well, under Genoa and then Solent, the tiller was hardly moving at all and that is always a good sign.”
Another 4-8 days in the Southern Ocean
There are still three men in the South. Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) and Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) have passed the last gate of Pacific. The road to the Horn is clear, swept by winds from the west. In three to four days, it will be the Atlantic where he will begin the repairs to his sails.
Finally, Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) for the last three days he has never closed his toolbox. Today, the upper axis of the rudder of Team Plastique broke. The Franco-Italian operated a makeshift repair and will have to do more as soon as the navigation conditions calm down.
Cape Horn Times
François Gabart (MACIF) rounded Cape Horn on January 1, 2013 at 18:20 GMT 52 days 06h 18mn after the race.
Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) rounded Cape Horn on January 1, 2013 at 19:35 GMT 52days 07h 33mn after the race.
Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) rounded Cape Horn January 3 at 4:42 GMT 53 days 16h after 40 minutes
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) rounded Cape Horn January 4 at 2:38 GMT after 54 days 14h 36 min race.
Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) rounded Cape Horn on January 8 58d 19h after 7:19 GMT 17mn 14s and is running 6 days 12 h 58 m 20 s after MACIF.
Mike Golding (Gamesa) rounded Cape Horn January 9 02h05 GMT after 59 days 14h 03 min race
Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) rounded Cape Horn January 9 10h18 GMT after 59 days 22h 16mn race
Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) rounded Cape Horn January 9 12h 49 GMT after 60 days 00h 47mn race
Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas) rounded Cape Horn January 9 at 21:55 GMT
Javier Sanso (EcoPowered Acciona 100%)rounded Cape Horn on January 10 at 0:52 GMT
Watch web tv Vendée Globe LIVE every day at midday GMT to watch the latest news LIVE from the race track.
4:00 P.M. (French Time)
1 – François Gabart
[ Macif ]
4 869.3 miles to the finish
2 – Armel Le Cleac’h
[ Banque Populaire ]
+ 82.4 miles to leader
3 – Jean-Pierre Dick
[ Virbac Paprec 3 ]
+ 351 miles to leader
4 – Alex Thomson
[ Hugo Boss ]
+ 357.4 miles to leader
5 – Jean Le Cam
[ SynerCiel ]
+ 1 550.3 miles to leader
I didn’t take the time to sleep already. I’ll do so when I’ll be moving forward. Now that we have diesel oil it’s fine. I took advantage of Unaï’s presence to climb on the mast and make some control. Then Unaï’s girlfriend made me a nice meal with some fruits. It was like a rebirth.
At the moment, I am not at 100% of my ability. The conditions are very unstable and I had to be very careful because of the ice. It was difficult to move in the wind. I was able to rest only a few hours ago. Now I’ll try to take the boat back to Les Sables d’Olonne and keep on going with my sailing.
I’ll try to enjoy the moment even if I’m disappointed. You cannot win this race with the problems I had.
Bernard Stamm (SUI, Cheminées Poujoulat)
As an athlete I’m following the race. I am very impressed. It’s a wonderful edition and an awesome race. I’m happy François is doing well because I know he is a kayaker. It’s very impressive to see three guys going at sea for three months. You need to be focused all the time and I think it’s the most difficult thing to do.
These are very long-term projects that you prepared for 4 years. It’s a bit unfair when it ends badly because it is four years of work. But it is also the magic of our sports.
Tony Estanguet (Triple Olympic champion)
I’m quite fine. It’s really beautiful out here and I have a Spanish guy under my wind. After the Cape Horn, he has roughly taken the same route as me. So, since the weather is great, I’m been able to see my little Spanish chorizo…
After the Cape Horn, I met a cruise ship. It called me because it knew who I was. It asked me if I was fine, if I had everything onboard because on the ship, they have a swimming pool and everything… But I feel much more comfortable on my boat.
Before the departure, we knew everyone’s objectives. With our software, we manage to establish strategies even though it is not always reliable. We must always be focused on our strategies and keep on going with them.
Arnaud Boissières (FRA, Akena Veranda)
The wind is getting smoother now after an intense night. We are getting closer to the transfer point. According to the software, my journey will be quite similar with the leaders’ one. Alex is taking a great option and everything must be reconsidered.
My strategy was good but, because of my little problem, I’m not in the right timing anymore. But it’s interesting; it’s going to be a great fight.
I must remain rigorous. First of all you need to have a global view of the situation and the strategies. Then you try to do everything to sail as fast as possible. And you also have to take some time to sleep and eat.
Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac Paprec 3)
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.
Polish ocean racer overcomes problems to finish ocean sprint four
HE’S done it! Tenacious Polish solo sailor Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski brought to an end a gruelling 38-day sprint from Punta del Este in Uruguay to Charleston, USA, today as he crossed the finish line of the fourth leg of the VELUX 5 OCEANS.
As the South Carolinian city slept, a small celebration was taking place out in the harbour as the VELUX 5 OCEANS race director’s horn sounded at 0120 local time (0520 UTC) marking the end of an epic sprint for Gutek and his Eco 60 yacht Operon Racing.
Just a few hours later, and over a month since starting the 5,700-nautical mile sprint with the rest of the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet, the 36-year-old ocean racer docked at Seabreeze Marina, stepping off Operon Racing and onto dry land to rapturous applause from fellow competitors, friends and fans.
“I am very glad to finally be in Charleston,” Gutek said. “Sprint four was a very long leg full of problems. Each leg has had its own challenges for me and this one was no different. It feels very good to be here.”
Ocean sprint four was a huge hurdle for Gutek, who was dogged with problems onboard Operon Racing from early on in the leg. After setting sail from Punta del Este on March 27, Gutek was left with no choice but to turn round and head for Fortaleza, Brazil, when the forestay on Operon Racing broke. At that stage he was already battling a broken alternator and a cracked bowsprit. Gutek was also suffering from broken ribs which he sustained in a nasty fall early on in the sprint. He was
just eight miles across the Equator when he was forced to turn back to Fortaleza. Gutek spent 11 days in port during which he and his shore team carried out repairs to Operon Racing and allowed his broken ribs to heal. Ironically, Gutek had stopped in Fortaleza to make repairs on his first voyage around the world in The Race ten years ago After leaving Fortaleza, and his fellow racers practically uncatchable, Gutek promised to take things easy – but, ever the racer, he made quick progress across the Equator and through theNorth Atlantic, making the 3,300-mile journey from Brazil to Charleston in 13 days at an average of 10.3 knots. It seemed nothing could deter him – not even when his bowsprit broke again, this time parting from the bow completely. Gutek and his team now have ten days to prepare Operon Racing for the finale of the VELUX 5 OCEANS, a 3,600-nautical mile blast through the North Atlantic to La Rochelle, France, where the race started eight months ago. It is set to be a thrilling finish to the race for Gutek, who will go into the leg tied in second place with Derek Hatfield.“Fixing the bowsprit is the number one job now because there will be a lot of downwind sailing in sprint five,” Gutek added. “I have a long list of things to do here but I will fight to the last drop of blood in the final sprint.”
Ocean sprint five starts from Charleston on May 14.
Final statistics for ocean sprint four
Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: Finished 19.04.11 in 23 days 4 hours and 58 minutes
Derek Hatfield, Active House: Finished 20.04.11 in 23 days 19 hours and 36 minutes
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: Finished 21.04.11 in 25 days 9 hours and 45 minutes
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: Finished 05.05.11 in 38 days 13 hours and 20 minutes
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
It was Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski who took an early lead over his race rivals as the fourth ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS got underway from Punta del Este today. The 36-year-old former Polish national dinghy champion snuck across the start line in Operon Racing five seconds in front of fellow competitor and overall race leader Brad Van Liew on Le Pingouin.
In one of the closest starts of the round the world race so far, all four boats blasted across the line in Punta del Este bay within a few minutes of each other. Gutek laid down his intentions for the race ahead rounding the first mark ahead of the fleet but close behind were Le Pingouin, Derek Hatfield’s Active House and Chris Stanmore-Major’s Spartan.
With the sun beating down and a south south-easterly breeze of around 10 knots, conditions were near perfect for the start of the fourth of five ocean sprints which will take the solo sailors 5,700 nautical miles to Charleston on the east coast of the US. Hundreds of people lined the breakwater in Marina Punta del Este to wish farewell to the skippers following a successful stopover in the Uruguayan resort, the fourth time Punta del Este has hosted the race.
A completely different beast to the past two Southern Ocean legs, ocean sprint four will see tactics become more important than ever as the skippers battle their way north through the St Helena High before facing the Doldrums for the second time since the race started in La Rochelle back in October. Once across the Equator the fleet will then pick up the northeasterly trade winds allowing the skippers to take a relatively direct course towards Charleston.
A new addition for ocean sprint four is the option to use ‘stealth mode’, enabling each skipper’s position to be hidden from their rival racers and the public for 24 hours. Skippers will be allowed to enter stealth mode twice during the leg, but not in the first 48 hours of racing or within 500 nautical miles from the finish line. When a skipper enters stealth mode his position on the VELUX 5 OCEANS race viewer will be frozen for 24 hours.
POSITIONS AT 1200 UTC:
Skipper / distance to finish (nm) / distance to leader (nm) / average speed in last 60 minutes (kts)
Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: 5335 /0 /14.3
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 5363 / 8.6 / 12.9
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 5368 / 13.4 / 13.1
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 5384 / 29.9 / 11.7
Brad Van Liew:
I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, more anxious. I’m really excited to be getting going on the leg to Charleston. I’ve had a really good couple of days of relaxation just tidying up the boat and working with my guys. I feel really ready and the boat is really ready. Mentally I am in the groove.
I really enjoy the north-south legs in the Atlantic. They’re a really good tactical challenge and I enjoy that. It’s nice to not have icebergs and 70-knot winds on the brain. Hopefully we won’t have any severe tropical weather during the leg. It takes a bit of stress off to be back in the Atlantic.
It will be interesting to see how everyone settles into this leg. It is so different from the last one. The other skippers have been concentrating so hard on improving their speed, and we can see from the results that it really is turning into one hell of a good boat race. I know everyone is excited to get going again.
The friendships we have made during this race are very real but on the water we are rivals. This part of the race becomes very interesting in terms of rivalry!
There is always a bit of apprehension about the start of a leg. You want to get away cleanly without any incidents. We haven’t been sailing in a month now so there is always a bit of pre-start jitters! I’m really looking forward to getting back to sea, turning the corner and getting going. I’m looking forward to seeing my family in Charleston too, it feels like I’m sailing home.
There are four different weather systems for us to navigate on this next leg. We have to make sure we make the best strategy for the next couple of days and read the weather forecasts well. This is the key to keeping the other guys really close. Maybe Brad will have to win this one because he has promised me he will be waiting on the jetty with a ‘welcome Gutek’ flag and a beer. But if I can, I will pass him and I will be the one welcoming Brad home from the jetty!
Last night there were definitely some nerves and emotions but I dealt with that by coming down to the boat, spending the night here and going through the processes just as I would at sea. That really gets my mind fixed. Once we’re on the boats it’s a closed world so I have just been enjoying taking my time walking around Punta and soaking up all the little details. That way when I get to my boat I will be totally focused on the job in hand. I feel very relaxed and ready for the start.
Three boats arrive in Punta del Este within 80 minutes
The third ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS came to the most incredibly thrilling climax today with Polish ocean racer Zbigniew Gutkowski beating British rival Chris Stanmore-Major to second place by just 40 seconds. It is the closest ever finish in solo ocean racing history. After nearly four weeks at sea and more than 6,700 miles of racing through the Southern Ocean and the South Atlantic from New Zealand to Uruguay, the fight for second place came down to a nail-biting drag race to the finish line. As a flotilla of boats took to the waters off Punta del Este to witness the finale and welcome in the kippers they were greeted by two unmistakable shapes on the horizon – Operon Racing
and Spartan neck and neck, separated by less than a mile. With around a mile to the finish line it was CSM who had the slight advantage but after taking a course too close to the shore he was forced to gybe twice to lay the line, allowing Gutek to capitalise.
In an amazing photo finish it was Gutek who emerged the victor, sneaking in front of CSM right at the last moment to clinch second place by less than a minute. Gutek crossed the finish line at 4.40pm local time (1840 UTC) after 25 days, 17 hours and ten minutes. Forty seconds later, CSM crossed.
And in an exhilarating conclusion to the leg, Canadian Derek Hatfield blasted across the line just over an hour later after 25 days, 18 hours and 22 minutes. Following Brad Van Liew’s win on Tuesday afternoon, all four boats arrived in just over 48 hours of each other. “It was a fight to the end and I won,” Gutek said after stepping on to the dockside to rapturous applause from the waiting crowds. “This second place is the best of all of them, much better than in Wellington and Cape Town. I am really proud.”
Moments later it was CSM’s turn to join his fellow skippers on dry land. “This sprint has proven I have a fast boat and I have taken the handbrake off now and I think we have a good chance for the next leg,” he said. “We have lost out on second place and that’s a great pity, I wish we were parked one boat closer to Brad, but I think we have made our point – we know what we’re doing now and we can go fast.”
“Never in a 6,000-mile leg have I seen a finish this close,” Derek added. “It was incredible. All I can say is wow, what a race. It was so close, I loved it.”
Ocean sprint three has by no means been easy going for any of the VELUX 5 OCEANS
skippers. In the middle of the Southern Ocean, thousands of miles from anywhere, CSM’s
mainsail ripped and he was forced to spend 30 hours stitching it in horrendous weather
conditions. He also had to contend with rips in one of his foresails as well as a major water leak onboard Spartan.
The challenge began in October, www.velux5oceans.com
Gutek faced a nervous rounding of the mighty Cape Horn when keel problems developed
onboard Operon Racing. After a composite part on the yacht’s keel pins broke, the keel started to move several millimetres, making a dull knocking sound. Gutek was forced to fully cant the keel for the remainder of the race, affecting his performance.
Onboard Active House Derek was dealing with an engine oil leak which meant he could only charge his batteries when on port tack. After holding on to second place until just two days from Punta del Este, it was low power to his wind instruments that was Derek’s eventual downfall. “The results of this leg really bode well for the future of the Eco 60 class,” Derek concluded. “Here we have recycled older boats that are so competitive and level – it makes for great racing.”
Ocean sprint four will see the fleet sprint 5,800 nautical miles to Charleston, starting on March 27.
1ST Brad Van Liew – 23 days, 17 hours and 46 minutes
2nd Zbigniew Gutkowski – 25 days, 17 hours and 10 minutes
3rd Chris Stanmore-Major – 25 days, 17 hours and 10 minutes 40 seconds
4th Derek Hatfield – 25 days, 18 hours and 22 minutes.
Gutek: “The end to my sprint three story is amazing. This second is the best of all of them,
much better than in Wellington and Cape Town. I am really proud. For the last 48 hours I worked so hard to get every last bit of speed out of my boat. Six miles from the finish I was leading Chris, and then more wind came and he went past me. I hoisted my gennaker and wewe re neck and neck. It was a fight to the end and I won.”
CSM: “It’s been a very interesting day. This morning I got a position update saying Gutek was only one mile behind me. I was hoping that the tack I was about to do would put me ahead of him but I saw him about 11am pass in front of me about a mile ahead. He is sailing that boat out of his skin. I just couldn’t catch him going upwind. Then the wind clocked round so we were on a reach and that’s what Spartan does best. Suddenly we were doing 13 or 14 knots and we chased Gutek down pretty quickly. Coming into Punta I had about a fix-boat lead on him and everything was looking really good. Then, coming towards the line I got too close to a patch of rocks which was an error on my part. I had been on deck concentrating on the sailing. I had topu t two gybes in to get to the finish line and that allowed Gutek to pass me in the dying moments. I ended up finishing 40 seconds behind him rather than 40 seconds ahead, but that’s racing, that’s what it’s all about. This sprint has proven I have a fast boat and I have taken the handbrake off now and I think we have a good chance for the next leg. We have lost out on second place and that’s a great pity, I wish we were parked one boat closer to Brad, but I think we have made our point – we know what we’re doing now and we can go fast.”
Derek: “All I can say is ‘wow, what a race’. It was so close, I loved it. It was a lot of work but not as much effort as sprint two. It was a good leg, a fun leg. We had a really fast passage to Cape Horn and then an amazing rounding of the Horn within a mile of the coast. The second part from Cape Horn, the last 1,000 miles, was the most difficult part. Not that long ago I was in second place but all I can say is in the last few days the wheels really fell off. Because of the oil leak in my engine my power got so low that my wind instruments wouldn’t work. In the dark I was going back and forth trying to get upwind, and that’s when Gutek got away. It was mine to lose. The results of this leg really bode well for the future of the Eco 60 class – here we have recycled older boats that are so competitive and so level. It makes for great racing. Never in a 6,000-mile leg have I seen a finish this close, it was incredible.”
American veteran singlehander finishes first in 6,000-mile sprint to Punta
BRAD Van Liew added yet another notch to his belt today to claim victory in the third sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The 43-year-old American crossed the finish line in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in his Eco 60 Le Pingouin at 5.16pm local time (1916 UTC) to make it three wins out of three legs so far in the 30,000-mile circumnavigation billed as The Ultimate Solo Challenge. Unlike his other race wins, Brad was not met on the dock by his wife and children – but instead the people of Punta del Este gave a warm welcome to one of their favourite ocean racers. It is the second time Brad has sailed into in Punta del Este with the VELUX 5 OCEANS, having competed in the 1998 edition of the race, then known as the Around Alone.
Sprint three took the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet more than 6,000 nautical miles from Wellington in New Zealand to Punta del Este via Cape Horn, for sailors one of the most respected and feared landfalls in the world. It was Brad’s third solo rounding of Cape Horn, making him the only American to have raced round the famous andmark three times singlehanded.
“Three legs won and three times round Cape Horn safely – those are two very important facts for me, two massive hurdles,” Brad said as he stepped off the dock after 23 days at sea. “It’s nice to have a nice point lead now and it’s nice to be here in Punta. It’s a fantastic place here and I have missed it. It’s great to be back.”
Brad sailed 6,530 nautical miles in an impressive 23 days, 17 hours and 46 minutes at an average speed of 11.5 knots. After setting sail from Wellington on February 6, he reached Cape Horn in just 16 days. After a frightening experience at Cape Horn in 1998 during which his yacht was smashed by hurricane-force winds and seas over 20 metres high, Brad knew all too well the potential danger of the Horn.
“Cape Horn is always nerve-wracking and there’s nothing you can do about that,” he said. “The reality is when you head down south to Cape Horn there is a point where you jump off the cliff and there is nothing you can do about it – you have to deal with whatever is thrown at you. Fortunately I got pretty lucky rounding the Horn; I think we all did. We know that because we all made it. If you get unlucky, you don’t make it. It was a very special experience for me this time round. It was really exciting as much as nerve-wracking.”
Brad is awarded the maximum 12 points for his leg win, cementing his lead at the top of the VELUX 5 OCEANS rankings on 43 points. Just a few hundred miles from the finish line a battle is raging between Derek Hatfield, Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major, all fighting for second place. At the 1800 UTC position report just ten miles separated the three skippers. All three are currently expected to arrive in Punta del Este on Thursday.
POSITIONS AT 1800 UTC:
The challenge began in October, for more information about the race go to www.velux5oceans.com
Skipper / distance to finish (nm) / distance covered in last 24 hours (nm) / average speed in last
24 hours (kts)
Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: Finished Tuesday March 1 2011, after 23 days, 17 hours and 46
minutes having sailed 6,530 nautical miles
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 323.3 / 159.9 / 6.7
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 328.1 / 156.8 / 6.5
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 332.9 / 187.5 / 7.8
From the leading duo counting down their final 750 or 800 miles to Cape Horn to those nearly 5000 miles behind fighting to make it across the Tasman to the Cook Strait, the vast majority of the Barcelona World Race fleet today are either racing in strong winds, or expecting them imminently.
Virbac-Paprec 3 and MAPFRE, some 78 miles apart this afternoon, are trying to outrun the approach of a fast moving low pressure system, the regenerated, reinvigorated Atu (Atu v2.0?) and escape around Cape Horn into the Atlantic. But it is the fleet’s tailgunners on We Are Water which has struggled the most today after being temporarily knocked flat by a big wave, taking water inside the boat.
Jaume Mumbrú and Cali Sanmarti reported that they are both fine, but unable to gybe due to a broken lazyjack and other sundry problems the duo were making slow SE’ly course during the early afternoon, before heaving while they baled water out of the boat and try to sort out their electronics problems. The impact of the wave ripped apart plastic spray curtains which protect part of the cockpit,. Part of the electrical equipment is not working at the moment.
And Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella last night (day time local for them) suffered a series of involuntary tacks when GAES Centros Auditivos’ autopilot hiccupped twice. With two sails partly in the water, the duo had their hands full, choosing to run north and take some pressure off themselves and the boat. The robust hard reaching conditions, with the wind slightly forward of the beam in difficult seas, made their choice of sacrificing some miles to Hugo Boss a difficult one, but a necessary one at the time.
“Things are horrible. We are upwind in 35 knots of wind and it is pretty wet and miserable. We had an ‘everything’ problem, the good thing about it all was that it was daylight when it happened. It was a catalogue of disasters and it took us quite a lot to get through it. And I just had a very brief time in the bean bag and I said to her that I feel like I have been beaten up. I feel quite exhausted by it. We are really wanting this wind to drop now.
We have come back on course now. We decided that we cant run away to the north for ever because it does just make the course worse afterwards. We are back where we should be after having a bit of rest and recovery. We are now just upwind and it is 30-35kts.” Said Caffari on this morning’s Visio-Conference.
“It was a bit emotional at the time but we did manage to giggle about it, we found the funny side of it, the fact that we were so ridiculously wet. But everything is still working, the boat is OK. We got the sails back on board, so of all the things that did go wrong we dealt with it all well.”
The duel at the front of the fleet between Virbac-Paprec 3 and MAPFRE now sees the French duo taking a clear advantage with their more northerly tracking. Individually both sets of co-skippers reported that they were struggling with the very changeable and unstable winds – requiring many sail changes and constant vigilance – in the brisk, but variable breezes sent by the low pressure centre which was just to the south east of them today, slightly closer for the Spanish duo.
Despite the intensity of the battle with the Virbac-Paprec 3, the evident chagrin at losing miles to the French pair, not to mention the extreme cold – 4 deg C and the fact that it was in the middle if a dark, dirty night – it was again an inspiration today to see the pleasure that Fernandez, Spain’s three times 49er world champion, double Olympic medalist and twice Volvo round the world veteran, takes in answering questions put to him by the young local Barcelona schoolchildren.
The duel with Dick and Peyron is dismissed for a few stolen moments Fernandez’s smile breaks his lips, the twinkle in his eyes lights up the gloomy fug inside MAPFRE as he takes time and pleasure to answer each question fully. One of this race’s unique and pure pleasures, one which perhaps will inspire a new generation of round the world racers?
And the duel for third evens out again this afternoon as Renault Z.E’s Toño Piris and Pachi Rivero fight back, 19 miles ahead of Neutrogena this afternoon both sailing at even speeds.
A special Visio-Conference in the early afternoon linked up guests and representative of sponsors Mirabaud with Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret.
Rankings at 1400hrs Tuesday 1st March 2011
1 VIRBAC-PAPREC 3 at 7642 miles to finish
2 MAPFRE 79 miles from the leader
3 RENAULT Z.E at 1411 miles
4 NEUTROGENA at 1430 miles
5 MIRABAUD at 1597 miles
6 GROUPE BEL at 1887 miles
7 ESTRELLA DAMM Sailing Team at 1957miles
8 HUGO BOSS at 2308 miles
9 GAES CENTROS AUDITIVOS at 2444miles
10 FORUM MARITIM CATALA at 3907 miles
11 CENTRAL LECHERA ASTURIANA at 4236 miles
12 WE ARE WATER at 4859 miles
Dee Caffari (GBR) GAES Centros Auditivos:“Things are horrible. We are upwind in 35 knots of wind and it is pretty wet and miserable. We had an ‘everything’ problem, the good thing about it all was that it was daylight when it happened. It was a catalogue of disasters and it took us quite a lot to get through it. And I just had a very brief time in the bean bag and I said to her that I feel like I have been beaten up. I feel quite exhausted by it. We are really wanting this wind to drop now.
We have come back on course now. We decided that we cant run away to the north for ever because it does just make the course worse afterwards. We are back where we should be after having a bit of rest and recovery. We are now just upwind and it is 30-35kts.
According to the forecast by 1800hrs this evening it should start to ease and then we go through our daylight hours upwind.
It was a bit emotional at the time but we did manage to giggle about it, we found the funny side of it, the fact that we were so ridiculously wet. But everything is still working, the boat is OK. We got the sails back on board, so of all the things that did go wrong we dealt with it all well.
It was really good, because I just jump on deck and get on with then I think that she gets a lot of confidence in that, so she drove while I got the sails back on board, and she drove while I sorted the pilots, so she got a bit of a battering each day. We both warmed up and put some dry clothes on and since then we have recovered. It is really good to see her confidence grow so much and in the boat. And we looked after each other, she just said to me that the only thing she wanted was that I not go in the water. I said I was not planning on it!
It is really nice to see Anna progressing, most of confidence and she says that comes from me which I am surprised about, but now she is confident in what the boat can do and making choices like what sails to put up and I am pleased about that, because it makes my life easier. So it is working for both of us.
And she asks questions about, like this is not what you said the Southern Ocean would be like, and I say it is different for me too. It is nice to hear her talking to other skippers in the fleet and sounding more knowledgeable and confident.
Xabi Fernandez (ESP) MAPFRE: “The situation is a little more complicated than the last few days. We have spent the last 24 hours with a lot of showers, one after the other and so we have had no rest. And an area of light winds has really struck us and so we have been losing some miles, little by little.
There are some clouds with showers which bring you squalls and more wind which give you a good push but not in the direction you want. For example we are on a course yesterday of 100-110 degrees and suddenly you get a 50 degrees shift, that is you pointing 50 degrees off your course. On the other hand there are another kind which tyou get which suddenly see the breeze drop from 20 knots to five or six knots, totally quiet and you can do nothing. It pours with rain. And in these hours you are given to wondering how the other boat is going. You kind of assume that it is the same for us both, but the truth is that we had another bad cloud and a spell with zero wind.
I think they are going a bit better than us, we are fighting to stay with them. Although we have got a little bit back I think we can see some compression into Cape Horn. To pass Cape Horn first? …Well it is a big enough achievement at all to pass Cape Horn, but first would be better.
The target is just to go as fast as possible we need to simply get there as quick as possible. If we are slowed or delayed it would be difficult. There is always acceleration of the wind there, and so aside from Virbac-Paprec 3, we just want to be there before the storm gets us.”
Dominique Wavre (SUI) Mirabaud: “We will do all that we can to attack third place, but it is a bit difficult at the moment because tomorrow we have a big depression coming and that will put us in conservation mode not to break anything. And so it is a bit of a difficult position. We are expecting two storms between now and Cape Horn and so it will be difficult but we will be doing all we can to get at third place.”
Michèle Paret (FRA) Mirabaud:“We mostly have enough food to get us to the finish. We have cut back on our consumption. We will have a bit less food for the last week but we don’t have any great concerns. And it is not normal to have to stop to take on food.
At the end of the South Atlantic before the south I felt a bit weak and so we spoke with the doctor and he said I was a bit anemia. And what we had in the boat’s pharmacy would not be enough until the end of the race. And the treatment is long term. So the preference was to get a supply from New Zealand and as soon as I started to take the iron I have been feeling better. And so I continue to take it to make sure I don’t risk a new weakness.”
Dominique Wavre: “Mirabaud is in good shape. We have no big concerns. Yesterday there was a problem with a wind indicator but we use the spare which is a bit less precise but it is a little les precise. The boat feels a little tired, but everything is intact. We have been surfing at 22-23 knots. The wind is lifting and so we go a little north again to wait for the shift and then to return to the south on the back of a major depression heading in the direction of Cape Horn.”