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Velux 5 Oceans - Hatfield finishes Sprint Two

by Velux 5 Oceans on 18 Jan 2011
Derek finishes Ocean Sprint Two - credit Will Carson VELUX 5 OCEANS Velux 5 Oceans ©
velux 5 Oceans Sprint two update.

Veteran solo sailor Derek Hatfield today described the second ocean sprint of the Velux 5 Oceans as the toughest sailing of his life as he arrived in Wellington to clinch the final podium position. The 58-year-old Canadian sailed his Eco 60 yacht Active House across the finish line at 3pm local time (0200 UTC), less than 60 hours behind leg two winner and overall race leader Brad Van Liew.

In the second of five ocean sprints that make up the Velux 5 Oceans, Derek, Canada’s top solo yachtsman, sailed more than 7,500 nautical miles through the Southern Ocean from Cape Town in South Africa in 32 days and 17 hours.

After a month at sea taking a beating from the relentless Southern Ocean conditions the finish of ocean sprint two couldn’t come soon enough for Derek, who was running dangerously low on food supplies onboard Active House. Derek arrived in Wellington with just two bottles of water left and no more food, having eaten his last freeze-dried meal earlier in the day.

'It’s been a long, difficult and brutal leg and I’m glad to be here,' Derek said as he stepped off Active House for the first time in over a month. 'It was just relentless storms, high pressure systems, low pressure systems... It’s good to have it over with. This is my third race around the world and this last leg was the toughest sailing I’ve ever done.'

Derek was reunited on the dock with his children Ben, 2, and Sarah, 6, for the first time since the Velux 5 Oceans started on October 17. 'It’s very special to see the kids again,' Derek said. 'They are growing up all the time. I am going to spend the next few days just relaxing with my family.'

After taking third in ocean sprint one from La Rochelle to Cape Town, Derek promised to push even harder in the second leg to Wellington – and that’s just what he did from the off, leading the fleet out of Cape Town and into the Southern Ocean. With positions changing often at the head of the fleet the leading pack, which included Brad Van Liew and Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski, fought hard for the top spot as they all battled huge winds, raging seas and freezing temperatures.

After passing through the safety gate south east of Australia, Derek engaged in a bitter duel with Gutek for second place. At one point Derek and Gutek were separated by just a few nautical miles. The Pole eventually beat Derek to the finish line by 36 hours after his east coast route gamble paid off.

'I was a lot more competitive this time,' Derek added. 'Gutek and I found ourselves in the same patch of water, it was great to have such close competition. At one point we were getting so close I called him in the middle of a storm just to make sure his radar was on. I made one slip up by tacking too soon about a week ago and that set the scene for the rest of the race with Gutek just beating me by a day.'

Ocean sprint two positions at 18h00 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 January 16, 30 days, nine hours, 49 mins
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: finished January 17, 31 days 8 hours and 27 mins
Derek Hatfield, Active House: finished January 18, 32 Days 17 Hours
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 766.2/0/244.4/10.2

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