British ocean racer Chris Stanmore-Major may be closing in on the Velux 5 Oceans sprint two finish line but in order to reach Wellington he has one final obstacle to overcome - the Cook Strait. CSM must navigate his yacht Spartan through the notorious body of water between the two islands of New Zealand in order to reach the finish line, and it's looking like he will have to do it in 35-knot headwinds.
After a quick passage through the Bass Strait in between mainland Australia and Tasmania where he averaged around 12 knots, at the 0000 UTC position report CSM was 472 nautical miles from Wellington. The 33-year-old is the last of the Velux 5 Oceans fleet at sea in the second of five ocean sprints that has seen the racers sail more than 7,500 nautical miles through the Southern Ocean from Cape Town in South Africa.
Despite the forecast, CSM remained upbeat. 'At the moment I've got about 20 knots pushing me in the right direction,' he said this morning. 'I'm sailing a lovely line towards the north west tip of the South Island and should be able to make it to that point quite easily. Once round that corner it all goes a bit bad and as I get into the Cook Strait I'm going to have 35 knots right on the nose. It will mean reefing right down and beating my way 80 miles all the way to Wellington. However anything worth doing is going to be a little bit tricky and I don?t mind the extra work. It might slow me down a little but it's no big deal.'
Once over the line CSM will join fellow racers Brad Van Liew, Zbigniew Gutkowski and Derek Hatfield on the dock in Queens Wharf, home of the Velux 5 Oceans race harbour. 'I can't wait to get in now,' CSM said. 'I'm genuinely excited about setting foot in New Zealand. I've travelled all over the world but never been to New Zealand. Knowing that New Zealand is where I'm headed with its amazing scenery has got me pretty stoked. I'm trying to urge the boat on to go as quickly as it can!'
CSM has now been at sea 34 days in a gruelling leg which has seen him tackle serious battery problems. After his battery banks stopped holding charge, CSM was forced to surrender his chase of the leading pack in favour of a route close to the coast of Australia should power onboard Spartan fail altogether.
'I'm still not using most of the electrical systems on board but things are going ok,' CSM added. 'Now I've set out across the Tasman I have no other opportunity to stop - it's New Zealand or bust. I?ve got my wind generator working, the solar panels working. I'm on my last can of diesel, down to about 14 litres, but the way I have been going recently that will do me for nine days. I weighed up the risks and decided I can make it. It looks like we're going to be ok.'
CSM is predicted to arrive in Wellington over the weekend. To sign up to our SMS arrival update system email your mobile phone number to wellington(at)velux5oceans.com.
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: 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: 472.8/ 0 / 293.4 / 12.2