Velux 5 Oceans, Cape Town to Wellington, the second sprint line is fast approaching.
The second sprint of the Velux 5 Oceans is looking like it will go down to the wire in an exhilarating climax to the 7,000 nautical mile leg. After 26 days of full-on solo racing through the Southern Ocean, and with 1,000 nautical miles left to the finish line in Wellington, New Zealand, the leading ocean racers are separated by just 300 nautical miles.
Out in front by 200 nautical miles, race leader Brad Van Liew was today feeling the pressure as he tried to keep his lead over second placed Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Derek Hatfield in third. The American skipper of Le Pingouin, winner of ocean sprint one, admitted tactical decisions in the final days of the sprint could make the difference between victory and defeat.
'We’ve got a pretty serious boat race going on right now,' said Brad, who in the past few days has seen his lead reduced by around 200 nautical miles after being struck with light winds. 'It’s a bummer to have such a big lead and lose it. It’s actually quite wonderful sailing at the moment but for the last three days I haven’t had as much breeze as Gutek and Derek have had. They’re killing me! The real scary thing for me is there are a few options here they could play that could see them pass me.'
Brad was forced to dip south to skirt a high pressure zone which has swept south from Australia allowing Gutek and Derek to take chunks out of his lead. To add to the pressure he also faces the tough decision of which route to take into Wellington: west through the notoriously fickle Tasman Sea and the Cook Strait or east round the bottom of the New Zealand’s South Island.
'With us all so close it’s tough, it’s really competitive but it’s great for the race,' Brad added. 'We all want this to be a competitive race but I sure would like to have more of a lead and just win the damn thing! All three of us are pretty seriously engaged and no-one’s leaving anything on the table. I couldn’t put up another stitch of cloth if I wanted to unless I took my underwear off and hung that from the rig! The weather gods are really evening the playing field up here and without question any of the three of us could win it.'
Ocean sprint two positions at 00h00 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: 1104.1/ 0 / 196.6 / 8.2
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 1340.3/ 236.1 / 269.6/ 11.2
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 1411.8/ 307.7/ 226.7/ 9.4
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 2142.9/ 1038.7/ 85.5/ 3.6
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