May 14, 2015. Volvo Ocean Race Practice Race in Newport. ( Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez /Volvo Ocean Race )

May 14, 2015. Volvo Ocean Race Practice Race in Newport. ( Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez /Volvo Ocean Race )

Volvo Ocean Race COO Tom Touber today joined Sail Newport’s Brad Read and Governor Gina Raimondo, to announce that the Race will be heading back to the Ocean State for the 2017-18 edition
–       Rhode Island town to host race for a second time in 2018
–       Governor Raimondo heralds Newport’s achievement
–       More port announcements to come in the New Year

NEWPORT, Rhode Island, October 30 – Newport, Rhode Island, will once again host the North American stopover for the 13th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2017-18 following the success of the sailing-mad coastal town’s hosting of the world’s leading offshore event in May.

“We’re delighted to be able to confirm that Newport will be staging a second consecutive stopover in 2018,” said Race COO, Tom Touber, at Friday’s (October 30) official announcement.

Volvo Ocean Race COO, Tom Touber ( Photo by Cory Silken )

Volvo Ocean Race COO, Tom Touber ( Photo by Cory Silken )

“Everything worked brilliantly in Newport in May thanks to the great work of Brad Read and his team plus the backing of the Governor, legislative leaders and State of Rhode Island agencies, and we were delighted with the large amount of spectators from our major fan base in the U.S. and elsewhere, who supported the stopover.

“Moreover, the Newport stopover was greatly valued by our stakeholders, who very much enjoyed visiting the area for its history, culture and, of course, the commercial opportunities it provided.”

The news that Newport will again be hosting the event means that seven ports for the next edition of the 42-year-old race are already known.

The east coast port joins Alicante (Spain), Cape Town (South Africa), Auckland (New Zealand), Cardiff (United Kingdom), Lisbon (Portugal) and Gothenburg (Sweden) on the list of confirmed stopovers for the 2017-18 edition.

“The route is already shaping up very nicely, although we have several more key port announcements to come, probably early in the New Year,” added Touber.

Rhode Island Governor, Gina M. Raimondo, who joined Volvo Ocean Race officials and Stopover Director Brad Read in Friday’s announcement ceremony at the State Room in the State capital, Providence, said:

“Rhode Island looks forward to welcoming back the Volvo Ocean Race in 2018, and we’re honoured to be among this list of world-class port destinations.”

She added: “This year’s event was a great success, drawing more than 130,000 fans from across the U.S. and abroad. We look forward to once again showcasing Rhode Island as a great place to visit – and do business.”

Brad Read, who heads Sail Newport, which masterminded the stopover this year, was delighted to have the chance to repeat – and improve on – the success of their inaugural hosting of the round-the-world marathon.

“Sail Newport, the Department of Environmental Management, and State Leadership, together with all of our outstanding partners, organised and hosted the most successful North American stopover in Volvo Ocean Race history,” he said.

“We did this as a non-profit organization combined with a whole lot of community heart and passion because we knew the event would be a remarkable success.”

He continued: “I believe strongly that tourists, fans, sponsors and media will travel from all over the world to Rhode Island to be part of the next Newport stopover.

“Everyone wants the Race back here. The State, the marine, business, education communities, and fans, will follow the Race until it arrives back at Castle Hill in 2018.”

The precise dates of the fleet’s visit in 2018 are not yet known but will be announced when the full route is unveiled early next year.

May 17, 2015. Leg 7 Start in Newport; Crowds gather to watch the teams race in port before heading out towards Lisbon. (Photo by Marc Bow / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 17, 2015. Leg 7 Start in Newport; Crowds gather to watch the teams race in port before heading out towards Lisbon. (Photo by Marc Bow / Volvo Ocean Race )

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)

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

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

 

After almost three weeks at sea, the third ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS is now firmly on the home straight towards Punta del Este and the battle for positions at the back of the fleet couldn’t be tighter. Whilst the toughest part of the 6000 nautical mile leg is now over, there is no time to relax as changeable winds will make the next day or so crucial for the final standings.
 
Race leader, Brad Van Liew, passed Cape Horn in perfect conditions on Monday 21st, but has endured light winds since turning up into the Atlantic.  Although it allowed him time ‘to get some jobs done’ at first, it has lead to a somewhat frustrating week for him, especially as the rest of the pack are making good progress.
 
“At first the quiet was welcome and I tended to many boat a personal chores that had been neglected” he said, “now I have cleaned, eaten and slept I want my 13 knot averages back!”
 
Brad’s speeds on Le Pingouin are slowly climbing and in the hour before the 12h00 UTC position reports he averaged 10.8 knots.  As long as he maintains the speeds and stays between his chasers and Punta del Este it appears that he will win ocean sprint three as he has done the first two legs of the race, billed as ‘the Ultimate Solo Challenge’.
 
Behind Brad, the situation is far from resolved. Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Derek Hatfield have been enjoying some good sailing conditions, and at 12h00 UTC only 28 nautical miles separated them.
 
Gutek and Operon Racing has had a week of highs and lows, having reported a worrying noise coming from his keel earlier in the week, which could have seriously jeopardised his race he then made a euphoric rounding of Cape Horn on Wednesday and since then he seems to have found a way to stabilise the issue:
 
“Now I have my boat heeled a lot because I noticed it’s a very good position for my keel. When it’s almost horizontal, the 3.5 tons of lead at its end make such a big lever that the keel can’t move. Only when it’s straight down it knocks again” he said, “It’s not very comfortable configuration for the boat, because I can feel she’s tired. It’s not so fast either, but I am satisfied with this solution. “
 
For Derek on Active House Cape Horn held huge significance, not just as a major achievement in this race, but also to lay to rest the ghost of races past. In the 2002/3 edition of the VELUX 5 OCEANS Derek had a serious incident and pitchpoled and dismasted whilst rounding Cape Horn. He could hardly contain his joy and relief at having got round safely on Wednesday, shortly after Gutek.
 
“For me Cape Horn was unfinished business, and that box is now ticked. It is such a weight off my shoulders. For the whole leg it’s all that any of us have been thinking about. I feel like I really lucked out, I couldn’t have asked for a better day to round Cape Horn” he said.
 
Onboard Spartan, Chris Stanmore-Major (CSM) has done an amazing job to make up the distance he lost on Derek and Gutek during his mainsail difficulties. At one stage last week he was almost 600 nautical miles behind Brad, but at today’s 12h00 UTC reports he’d closed that gap to just 222 nautical miles and the gap between him and Derek is a mere 44 nautical miles.
 
As for what the weather may hold over the next few crucial days, from tomorrow there is a wave of disturbance form the Magellan Strait together with a low pressure bubble from Argentinean pampas; It will give a strong wind current from the South that will be favourable mainly for Gutek, Derek and CSM if he stays with them. Brad will probably have a close reach and a little less wind. Gutek and Derek should have a broad reach, also weakening but potentially lasting until the finish line. The conditions could easily see the second, third and fourth skippers finish within 24 hours of each other, and will make for an exciting close to the sprint, whatever happens.
 
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: 857.1 / 0 / 143.2 / 6
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 1007.1 / 150 / 140.9 / 5.9
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 1035.5 / 178.4 / 206.1 / 8.6
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 1079.4 / 222.3 / 186 / 7.7

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin at the start of Ocean Sprint 3, from Wellington New Zealand to Punta del Este, Uruguay. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin at the start of Ocean Sprint 3, from Wellington New Zealand to Punta del Este, Uruguay. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

In  an excerpt his blog  Brad Vin Liew,  leader of the Velux 5 Oceans,  reflects on his upcoming rounding of Cape Horn on Le Pingouin.   Brad Van Liew is a self proclaimed adrenaline junkie with a vast array of extreme sports behind him. A lifelong sailor,  Brad had set his heart competing in the BOC Challenge, which would in 2005 be renamed the VELUX 5 OCEANS and in 1998 his dream was realised when he competed in the Around Alone finishing third in class two. Brad lives in Charleston, South Carolina, USA and his new yacht Le Pingouin, which he bought in France last year, has a rich racing pedigree.

The VELUX 5 OCEANS is the oldest single-handed round the world yacht race. Run every 4 years since 1982, the race is the longest and toughest event for any individual in any sport. The race is a series of five high-pressure ocean sprints within a marathon circumnavigation. The 30,000 route takes the sailors from La Rochelle FR to Cape Town SA, then onto Wellington NZ, Punta del Este Uruguay, Charleston USA and back to La Rochelle FR, for the finish.

Brad said today  “Cape Horn here I come! I’m guessing I am 5-6 days from rounding the nautical summit of Cape Horn. It will be my third time around the horn solo, and it is never the same – a place impossible to predict. There is nothing to stop the winds and waves racing around the bottom of the globe unimpeded by land, until you reach Cape Horn. This is where the vast South Ocean and all of its fury is squeezed into a small corridor between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica. To add to the drama, the sea floor quickly jumps up to be much more shallow. The place is extreme and can be extremely dangerous. It has been called a sailor’s graveyard, because so many boats have gone down. Considering this dramatic but true description, I am of course looking at the weather data very closely in anticipation of the upcoming milestone.

From what I can see right now, it looks like it will be fairly rough and a bit of a challenge. There are three low pressure systems to deal with between now and The Horn. I’m looking closely at one of them, because it is one I should encounter immediately before, during or after the rounding. Ideally I will get there right after that system rolls through. If I had to guess now what conditions will be like on my special day, it looks to be 40 knots of wind that feels more like 50 and 30 foot seas. I’ll try and update that as we get closer to the moment.

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin at the start of Ocean Sprint 3, from Wellington New Zealand to Punta del Este, Uruguay. (Photo by onEdition/w-w-i.com)

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht Le Pingouin at the start of Ocean Sprint 3, from Wellington New Zealand to Punta del Este, Uruguay. (Photo by onEdition/w-w-i.com)

What some may not realize is that rounding Cape Horn can be quite spectacular and awesome. For one, the accomplishment is like summiting Mt. Everest for sailors. If you are lucky enough to actually see it (usually masked in fog or too stormy to get the visual) it really does look like a rock sticking out of the bottom of the Earth. I am hoping for that beautiful clear shot, and no surprises. We’ll see.

On the Cape Horn subject, my team has launched an initiative tied to the occasion. It is a fundraising campaign and intended to offer some nice perks to those that get involved. The sponsorship scene has been pretty brutal so we are required to get creative! So while rounding this magnificent corner of the continent, I will have a Sharpie in hand and take some time to write personal notes to some special folks on photos of Le Pingouin. You can learn more about the Cape Horn Crew and how to get involved at http://www.oceanracing.org/WELCOME_files/capehorncrewrevised.pdf.

A special thanks goes out to some of the great folks already onboard the Cape Horn Crew, including Don Gearing/AlpineAire Food, Dennis Ledbetter, Charles Duell, Jeffere Van Liew, Ken & Anne King, Dr. Sheri Hunt, Mary Denis Cauthen, and Scott & Tracy Strother. I very much appreciate your support and look forward to sharing some great moments together in Charleston.”

Thanks to all for checking in.
Cheers,
Brad

Brad Van Liew onboard Le Pingouin (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Brad Van Liew onboard Le Pingouin (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse at the start of Ocean Sprint 3,

Derek Hatfield onboard his yacht Activehouse at the start of Ocean Sprint 3. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com)

 

When you’re alone on a 60ft yacht in the depths of the Southern Ocean, thousands of miles from land or help, the last thing you want is to lose to control of your boat. But that was the situation facing Canadian Derek Hatfield last night when he awoke to find his Eco 60 Active House screaming along at a dangerously quick 21 knots, struggling to cope with a Southern Ocean squall.
 
The 58-year-old solo sailing veteran had been enjoying a rare moment of rest when he was woken from his sleep by the sound of Active House’s keel humming, a sign that she was traveling incredibly fast through the water. He scrambled on deck to find the wind had whipped up to 35 knots and Active House had accelerated from a comfortable 13 knots to 21.
 
“I was asleep when a squall came through and I woke to the sound of the keel humming,” Derek explained. “I put some foulies on quickly and went on deck to find Active House doing 21 knots. It was unbelievable, she was totally out of control. When you’re asleep and you wake up to that it’s a bit of a shock. It was the middle of the night, pitch black and quite disconcerting.
 
“I had to slow the boat down she was going so fast. It sounds funny that I would be trying to slow the boat down in a yacht race but it’s all about getting that balance between speed and safety.”
 
The incident took place near to Point Nemo, the most remote place on the planet, around 2,000 miles from land in every direction. “Going too quickly can get very dangerous very quickly and we are not in a place where you can afford for anything to go wrong,” Derek added.
 
Derek also revealed that he discovered a water leak in the mid compartment on Active House which he has been bailing out daily. He also had a scare when he went on deck to find the baby stay – the smaller, inner forestay – had disconnected from the deck. Luckily there was no damage and Derek managed to secure the stay using a spare bolt.
 
“I’ve been full on over the last few days trying to deal with all this stuff and race the boat at the same time,” Derek said. “I feel my speeds and tactics are suffering a little, but I’m doing my best to hang on to Brad and Gutek.”
 
The 1200 UTC position report polled Derek in third place just under 200 nautical miles behind sprint leader Brad Van Liew and less than 25 nautical miles behind second placed Zbigniew Gutkowski. At midday Derek was 200 nautical miles from the exit of the sprint three speed gate.
 
Ocean sprint three positions at 12h00 UTC:
 
Skipper / distance to finish (nm) / distance to leader (nm) / distance covered in last 24 hours (nm) / average speed in last 24 hours (kts)
 
Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: 3021.3/ 0/ 240.1/10
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 3193.2/171.9/210.2/8.8
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 3217.1/195.8/ 229.5/9.6
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 3351.2/ 329.9/ 263.4/ 11