Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin at start of Ocean Sprint 4

Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin at start of Ocean Sprint 4

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.

 

Gutek Arrives In Charleston, (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Gutek Arrives In Charleston, (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.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.

v5o10as_m6864

Gutek (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

“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

 

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski arrives in 4th place into Charleston SC, USA, onboard his yacht Operon Racing. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski arrives in 4th place into Charleston SC, USA, onboard his yacht Operon Racing. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Canadian skipper will enter final sprint tied on points with Polish race rival

Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse finishing Ocean Sprint 4, from Punta del Este Uruguay to Charleston, USA in second place. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse finishing Ocean Sprint 4, from Punta del Este Uruguay to Charleston, USA in second place. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

THE stage is set for a thrilling finale to the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world yacht raceafter Canadian ocean racer Derek Hatfield claimed second place in the penultimate sprinttoday.

The result, Derek’s first second-place finish of the event, means he will start the fifth and finalleg of the epic 30,000-mile race tied on points with his race rival Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski,giving him a shot at second place overall. Breakages onboard Gutek’s yacht Operon Racingforced him to pull into the Brazilian port of Fortaleza to make repairs, all but cementing fourth
position for the Pole.

“After the disaster of ocean sprint three when I expected to finish second and ended up fourth I am so pleased to have got this result,” an exhausted but jubilant Derek said as he stepped off Active House for the first time in more than three weeks.

“The VELUX 5 OCEANS is a long race so for the first three legs I was concerned with lookingafter the boat but for sprint four I knew I wanted to step it up. I’m really looking forward to thefinal sprint now. I wish Gutek well and hope he gets to Charleston in fine shape and ready torumble. Chris is also really ramping it up. The last leg is going to be a really great finale to therace.”

Derek steered his 60ft yacht Active House into Charleston, USA, and across the finish line at 0736 EST (1136 UTC) just over 15 hours behind ocean sprint four winner and Charleston resident Brad Van Liew, who sailed into his home port yesterday evening. Throughout the sprint
the 58-year-old veteran solo sailor piled the pressure on Brad and in the final few days of the sprint less than 100 miles separated the pair.
Shortly after crossing the finish line in Charleston Harbor Derek was reunited with his fiancé Patianne who helped bring Active House alongside at the city’s Seabreeze Marina. Waiting for him there were his children Sarah, 6, and Ben, 2, as well as his extended family and a host of  ellwishers.

During ocean sprint four Derek sailed Active House just shy of 6,000 nautical miles at anaverage speed of 10.5 knots. He completed the leg in 23 days, 19 hours and 36 minutes.

Third-placed British skipper Chris Stanmore-Major was just 233 miles from the finish line at the1200 UTC position report and is expected in Charleston in less than 24 hours. Gutek is alsoexpected to restart ocean sprint four tomorrow leaving Fortaleza bound for Charleston.

Positions at 1200 UTC
Skipper / distance to finish (nm) / distance to next boat (nm) / distance covered in last 24 hours
(nm) / average speed in last 24 hours (kts)
The challenge began in October, www.velux5oceans.com

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: 233.2 / 0 / 141.8 / 5.9

Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 3205 / 2971.8 / 0 / 0

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Derek Hatfield with his daughter Sarah (6) and son Ben (2) celebrates finishing in second place.(Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Derek Hatfield with his daughter Sarah (6) and son Ben (2) celebrates finishing in second place.(Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Brad Van Liew Celebrates His Sprint 4 Win (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Brad Van Liew Celebrates His Sprint 4 Win (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

American  solo sailor Brad Van Liew today made it an incredible four wins out of four legs in
the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world race as he sailed into his hometown of Charleston
to a hero’s welcome.
The people of Charleston turned out in force to cheer on the 43-year-old as he brought an end
to a gruelling 5,900-mile leg from Punta del Este in Uruguay. After a painfully slow and
frustrating final few days at sea which saw him battle fluky, light winds on the approach to the
finish, Brad steered his 60ft Eco 60 yacht Le Pingouin across the line outside Charleston Harbor
at 1658 EST (2058 UTC). He completed the leg in 23 days, four hours and 58 minutes, and
averaged 10.6 knots over the course of the sprint.

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin wins the 4th Ocean Sprint from Punta del Este, Uruguay to to Charleston SC, USA.(Photo by  Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin wins the 4th Ocean Sprint from Punta del Este, Uruguay to to Charleston SC, USA.(Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

More than 20 spectator boats hit the water to welcome home Brad and Le Pingouin including
the Charleston pilot boat Fort Moultrie, carrying Brad’s family as well as VELUX America
president Tim Miller and dignitaries from the city. Brad was even treated to a fly-past in a light
aircraft by his former airplane charter business partner.
With clear blue skies and the summer sun beating down, Brad finally arrived at Charleston’s
Seabreeze Marina at 1900 local time. Among the crowds waiting for Brad on the dock were his
wife Meaghan and his children Tate, 9, and Wyatt, 6, who he hasn’t seen since leaving
Wellington, New Zealand, on February 6.
Stepping on to dry land for the first time in more than three weeks, Brad said: “For me winning
this leg is so special. If I could have chosen just one leg to win it would have been this one. This
is my home port, I am very involved in the maritime community in Charleston and all my friends
and family are here. It would have been pretty disappointing to have won the previous legs and
not win this one. I was very focused and very determined. I feel delirious and exhausted – it was
a heck of a leg.”
Brad has so far won every leg of the 30,000-mile VELUX 5 OCEANS, known as The Ultimate
Solo Challenge. With just one leg left Brad is the clear favourite to win the race overall. A former
airline pilot, Brad is a veteran of two previous editions of the race, in 1998 and in 2002 when it
was known as the Around Alone. In the 2002 edition Brad won every single leg in class two for
yachts 50ft and under.
A win in the final sprint of the 2010/11 race would make Brad the most successful sailor ever to
compete in the event. He already sailed into the history books during sprint three, becoming the
only American ever to have raced around Cape Horn three times.

Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin wins the 4th Ocean Sprint (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin wins the 4th Ocean Sprint (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

A well-known figure in Charleston, Brad was instrumental in the development of the South
Carolina Maritime Foundation, a sail training charity which has taken more than 6,000 students
sailing since 2007.

Brad’s closest rival, Canadian Derek Hatfield, is expected to arrive in Charleston on his Eco 60
Active House tomorrow to claim second place.
Positions at 0000 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 at 20:58 UTC on Tuesday April 20
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 111.6 / 0 / 137.9 / 5.7
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 333 / 221.4 / 83.8 / 3.5
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 3205 / 3093.4 / 0 / 0
SKIPPER QUOTES:
I feel delirious and exhausted – it was a heck of a leg. Derek really laid it down hard and it was a
real boat race all the way to the finish. At one point Chris had Derek spooked and Derek had me
spooked and it was wide open. It was much tougher than I thought it would be. Having done this
race two times previously I have always favoured the left side of the course on this leg and it’s
always been the way to go. This time it just wasn’t. It was a pretty scary few days when Derek
was taking miles out of my lead. All he had to do was find a little passing lane and come left and
that would have been it. Fortunately for me he wasn’t quite able to seal the deal and I worked
really hard and was just able to stay between Derek and Charleston.
For me winning this leg is so special. If I could have chosen just one leg to win it would have
been this one. This is my home port, I am very involved in the maritime community in
Charleston and all my friends and family are here. It would have been pretty disappointing to
have won the previous legs and not win this one. I was very focused and very determined.
The good news for me now is that mathematically winning over all is pretty much a done deal.
The bad news is that I have to make it to La Rochelle to win. That will be my priority now. The
reality is I will have to tell myself to focus on getting to La Rochelle in one piece.

Brad Van Liew greets his wife Meaghan and children Tate and Wyatt onboard his yacht Le Pingouin (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Brad Van Liew greets his wife Meaghan and children Tate and Wyatt onboard his yacht Le Pingouin (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/VELUX 5 OCEANS)

Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/VELUX 5 OCEANS)

 

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
 
Derek
 
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

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski onboard his yacht Operon Racing at the start of Ocean Sprint 4 from ÊPunta del Este, Uruguay to to Charleston SC, USA. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski onboard his yacht Operon Racing at the start of Ocean Sprint 4 from ÊPunta del Este, Uruguay to to Charleston SC, USA. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

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.
 

Skippers Brad Van Liew, Derek Hatfield, Zbigniew Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major ahead of the start of ocean sprint four from Punta del Este, Uruguay to Charleston SC. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Skippers Brad Van Liew, Derek Hatfield, Zbigniew Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major ahead of the start of ocean sprint four from Punta del Este, Uruguay to Charleston SC. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

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.

Yacht Club Punta del Este commodore Horacio Garcia Pastori, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Yacht Club Punta del Este commodore Horacio Garcia Pastori, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

 
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.

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse at the start of Ocean Sprint 4 (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse at the start of Ocean Sprint 4 (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

 
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
 
 
SKIPPER QUOTES:
 
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!
 
Derek Hatfield:
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.
 
Gutek:
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!
 

Chris Stanmore-Major onboard his yacht Spartan at the start of Ocean Sprint 4 from ÊPunta del Este, Uruguay to to Charleston SC, USA. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchezr/w-w-i.com)

Chris Stanmore-Major onboard his yacht Spartan at the start of Ocean Sprint 4 from ÊPunta del Este, Uruguay to to Charleston SC, USA. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchezr/w-w-i.com)

Chris Stanmore-Major:
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.
 

Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin at start of Ocean Sprint 4

Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin at start of Ocean Sprint 4

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Gutek battles it out with Chris Stanmore-Major, finishing 40 seconds ahead of him in Punta del Este, Uruguay, after racing thousands of miles across the Southern Ocean from New Zealand. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Gutek battles it out with Chris Stanmore-Major, finishing 40 seconds ahead of him in Punta del Este, Uruguay, after racing thousands of miles across the Southern Ocean from New Zealand. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)


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.

Gutek chats with Chris Stanmore-Major, after finishing 40 seconds ahead of him in Punta del Este, Uruguay, after racing thousands of miles across the Southern Ocean from New Zealand. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Gutek chats with Chris Stanmore-Major, after finishing 40 seconds ahead of him in Punta del Este, Uruguay, after racing thousands of miles across the Southern Ocean from New Zealand. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

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.”

gutek-on-operion

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.”

chris-stanmore-major-onboard-his-yacht-spartan
“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.

 VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse finishing Ocean Sprint 3,  (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse finishing Ocean Sprint 3, (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

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.

Chris Stanmore-Major, Derek Hatfield and Zbigniew Gutkowski celebrate with champagne in Punta del Este at the culmination of ocean sprint three. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Chris Stanmore-Major, Derek Hatfield and Zbigniew Gutkowski celebrate with champagne in Punta del Este at the culmination of ocean sprint three. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

FINAL POSITIONS:
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.

SKIPPER QUOTES:
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.”

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski is greeted by his wife Eliza Gutkowska in Punta del Este at the culmination of Ocean (Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski is greeted by his wife Eliza Gutkowska in Punta del Este at the culmination of Ocean (Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

American skipper Brad Van Liew wins Ocean Sprint Three from Wellington, New Zealand to Punta del Este in Uruguay after 23 days at sea.  (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

American skipper Brad Van Liew wins Ocean Sprint Three from Wellington, New Zealand to Punta del Este in Uruguay after 23 days at sea. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

American veteran singlehander finishes first in 6,000-mile sprint to Punta
del Este

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.

American skipper Brad Van Liew celebrates after winning Ocean Sprint Three (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

American skipper Brad Van Liew celebrates after winning Ocean Sprint Three (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

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.

 Brad at Cape Horn (Photo © Brad Van Liew/VELUX 5 OCEANS)

Brad at Cape Horn (Photo © Brad Van Liew/VELUX 5 OCEANS)

“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

American skipper Brad Van Liew wins Ocean Sprint Three from Wellington, New Zealand to Punta del Este in Uruguay after 23 days at sea. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

American skipper Brad Van Liew wins Ocean Sprint Three from Wellington, New Zealand to Punta del Este in Uruguay after 23 days at sea. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)