Velux 5 Oceans sprint four to Charleston, USA.
Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski has reported that Operon Racing continues to be hampered by keel issues suffered in the previous leg.
While fast reaching conditions blast the fleet north along the Brazilian coast, the man lying in second place overall is currently in fourth spot of the latest sprint, 90 miles behind race leader Brad Van Liew.
Speaking to the Velux 5 Oceans team, Gutek reported 'For me there is not a big difference between this leg and the previous one. I am sailing on a damaged boat and it’s certainly restricting my performance. I accepted it because I knew before the start that it is impossible to make such repairs in Uruguay. Unfortunately there was no way to do it there. Now we are on a reaching course, it’s the worst possible option for me because I can’t do anything about it. No tactical move, no strategy, not even better steering. It’s just a straight beam reach course, so the boat is doing as well as it is made to.'
The Polish skipper was able to make his Eco 60 safe to race the 5,700 mile slog to Charleston (USA) that started on Sunday but he was not able to make full repairs to his keel system due to the skills and resources available in Punta del Este (Uruguay).
Brad Van Liew continued to lead the fleet, clocking some impressive speeds on his Eco 60 Le Pingouin as the American skipper covered 332 miles in the last 24 hours and averaging over 14 knots for the last six hours.
However, Brad is being chased hard by fellow race veteran Derek Hatfield on Active House, with the Canadian skipper only 30 miles behind in second spot. Chris Stanmore-Major, who has chosen a more westerly passage to the rest of the fleet, remains just ahead of Gutek, as they pick up their close battle from the end of ocean sprint three, which saw the Polish ocean racer beat the British skipper into Punta del Este by a mere 40 seconds.
Tactical decisions are expected to play a key role in the tricky penultimate leg which will see the skipper navigate through the Doldrums and trade winds as they return to the Northern hemisphere for the first time since November 2010. The newly introduced stealth mode will add another aspect to the tactical battle and with 48 hours now passed since the ocean sprint started, the option is on the cards for all the skippers to use.
'I was really opting very much for introducing the stealth mode' Gutek told the race team. 'Having that option gives us more tactical possibilities and in my case it is very important, because in terms of the boat’s performance, I am the slowest. So I wanted it and I am very glad we have it now. However,, it is not 100% guaranteed that I will use it. It only makes sense if I am in the tight leading pack. Then it would be useful.'
Stealth mode can be used twice during the ocean sprint, but is not possible within 500 miles of the leg finish in Charleston. 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: 4720/ 0/ 332.4 / 13.8
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 4749.3 / 29.3 / 313.9 / 13.1
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 4799.6 / 79.6.3 / 295.9 / 12.3
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 4810.1 / 90.1 / 283.6 / 11.8 http://www.velux5oceans.com