Velux 5 Oceans competitor, Canadian ocean racer Derek Hatfield, said today he is relishing the tight racing after six days at sea in the third sprint of the solo round the world race.
The veteran singlehander, currently in third position, said he was 'pushing hard' to catch second-placed rival skipper Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski, just 20 nautical miles ahead at the 0600 UTC position report.
Derek is even more determined to hunt down the Pole after Gutek pipped him to the post in leg two, arriving in Wellington on Operon Racing less than 36 hours ahead of Derek’s Active House. Since the 30,000 nautical mile race restarted on Sunday, Derek has been fighting hard with his fellow racers, enjoying periods in first and second place. Only yesterday did Gutek steal back second position from Derek, with Brad Van Liew leading the fleet by less than 100 nautical miles.
'I lost second place because I gybed a little bit too late,' the 57-year-old told the Velux 5 Oceans race team this morning. 'That said, it’s still close at the front. We’re much closer to Brad now than we have been at the same stage in previous legs. Gutek is pushing hard and I’m pushing hard to catch him, and we’re both pushing hard to catch Brad. It’s great racing.'
Unlike the first week of leg two, in which the ocean racers were held up in uncharacteristic light winds south of Cape Town, the start to sprint three has been wet and wild with classic Southern Ocean conditions: strong winds, big seas and fast sailing.
'I know we’ve only been at sea five days but it seems like it’s been much longer, it’s been that full on,' Derek added. 'It’s been much easier than the start of leg two - that was brutal. We’ve still had to deal with a bit of weather but it hasn’t been too bad and everyone got through safely. By the end of this week we’ll be a third of the way to Cape Horn which after only a week’s sailing isn’t bad at all.'
The only concern on Active House is an oil leak which Derek discovered moments prior to the start of the leg. 'I took the decision to start the race and fix the problem at sea but as yet I haven’t been able to stop the leak,' Derek explained. 'Now I have to run the engine when I’m on port tack and charge the batteries, wait for the oil to leak out, collect it then put it back in the engine. It’s a little bit worrying in the long run but it hasn’t posed too many problems so far.' Positions at 600 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: 4,506.4/ 0 / 268.3 / 11.2
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 4,578.2 / 71.8 / 271.9 / 11.3
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 4,606 / 99.6 / 232.4 / 9.7
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 4,786.9 / 280.5 / 148.1 / 6.2 www.velux5oceans.com