Sole US Entry in Velux 5 Oceans Race Takes Huge Step Forward In Round The World Campaign
Solo American sailboat racer Brad Van Liew and his devoted support team can score one victory already in their campaign to win the grueling VELUX 5 OCEANS 2010-2011 race, as today they officially re-launched the completely refitted Eco 60 racing yacht Le Pingouin. The team splashed the boat at Detyens Shipyard and motored down the Cooper River to its new home at Seabreeze Marina on the Charleston Peninsula. “I can’t explain how grateful I am for the amazing support of the marine industry, the Charleston community and my incredible shore team,” said Van Liew, shortly after the mast was lowered into place on the deck of his sleek racing vessel.
Van Liew and his “Lazarus Project” team have spent some six months in a no-expense-spared refit of Le Pingouin, ensuring that the boat is impeccably prepared for the intense singlehanded round-the-world VELUX race. “We’ve redesigned the deck and cabin to suit my sailing style, repainted her with some awesome and eye-catching graphics, and brought every facet – no matter how minute – up to the highest standards possible for an oceangoing racer,” said Van Liew. While the level of attention to detail may seem tedious, Van Liew explains that cutting corners isn’t an option. “This will not only be my home for nine months, but she’s my survival pod, my life raft, and will need to keep me safe for 30,000 miles of wild ocean sailing.” The stripped-out, carbon fiber racing sled is adorned with a determined-looking penguin that will watch over Van Liew, along with the team slogan, “Full Noise or No Noise” to remind Brad to push as hard as he can in his battle for victory over an international fleet.
Many Challenges Conquered, Many More To Go
Van Liew said he’s always had faith that his team could get the boat ready, but that “it has been more challenging than I anticipated.” He’s referring not only to the stifling heat and humidity of the summer – one of the hottest on record according to NOAA – during their painstaking rebuild of Le Pingouin, but also to the immense challenge of securing title sponsorship support that has eluded the project thus far. “We’ve relied on friends, family, a devoted group of companies, and a group of individuals, both sailors and nonsailors, that see the importance of ensuring a US entry in the world’s oldest and toughest race of its kind,” said Van Liew. “We remain hopeful that we can enlist more commercial support, but one way or another, we’re going to see this race completed, and it’s all due to the hundreds of people that have thrown themselves into this project.”
Exactly two months away from the start of the VELUX 5 OCEANS 2010-11 race start day, Van Liew feels Le Pingouin will be one of the best prepared race boats on the start line. “Our equipment is the best, our shore team is the best, and we’re ready,” Van Liew said. His team installed a full suite of state-of-the-art B&G autopilots and instrumentation on the 60-foot racer, an integral component of the boat. Samson Ropes throughout the boat are color-coded, and in some cases, custom-designed for specific loads, tensions, and duties. Simrad systems will assist Van Liew with navigation, radar, and traffic avoidance, and complimenting the ultra-high performance systems of the interior is a flawless head-turning Awlgrip paint job on the hull and proactive coatings on the bottom and keel. Gill technical clothing will protect Van Liew from the elements, and his diet will primarily consist of Alpine Aire dehydrated food produced for extreme environments that require light-weight provisions.
Several Charleston based companies have proved invaluable resources to Van Liew and team in getting the race boat ready. Some of these supporters include CMMC Machine, Charleston Rigging and Hardware, charlestonyachting.com, Seabreeze Marina, West Marine, High & Dry Boatworks, and Pierside Boatworks.
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. He plans to depart on September 5th for the long passage to France for the October start.
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.
Brad Van Liew’s entrepreneurial spirit has seen him through successful business endeavors in aviation and sailing. As a professional sailor, Van Liew completed two solo circumnavigations, taking 3rd place as an underdog entrant in the 1998-99 Around Alone race, and claiming victory in the 2002-03 edition of that event aboard Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America. He broke a world record by covering 345 miles in one day aboard his 50-foot monohull. Van Liew has been awarded an array of honors including a US Navy Seamanship Award, Raymarine Communications Award, and Sportsman of the Year from California Yacht Club. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California