Velux 5 Oceans sprint four skipper Brad Van Liew has this morning passed the first speed gate of ocean sprint four signalling the start of his timed run. Each of the five ocean sprints feature timed runs, with bonus points awarded to the skipper who makes the fastest passage between two points.
For ocean sprint four, the speed gates are located at the latitudes 5ºS and 5ºN, mirroring the speed gates set on ocean sprint one from La Rochelle to Cape Town. Brad, skipper of Le Pingouin, is the first of the four skippers to enter the sprint four timed run zone.
So far the 43-year-old veteran racer has picked up the full three bonus points on each leg after posting the quickest times between the speed gates. During ocean sprint one, Brad passed from 5ºN to 5ºS in two days, six hours and six minutes. However the notorious Doldrums, which lie right between the two gates, are typically not as active at this time of the year, possibly allowing for a quicker passage this time round.
'With the limited amount of weather we download it’s looking to me like the Doldrums are going to be a little bit south of the Equator,' Brad said today. 'I don’t want to jinx anything but let me say that at the moment it is looking like it could be a good crossing.'
It is impossible to know exactly where Brad is in relation to the fleet this morning as both he and his nearest rival Derek Hatfield are currently in stealth mode, a new addition for this sprint which allows the racers to hide their positions from one another and from the public for a 24-hour period.
Yesterday Brad waved goodbye to the coast of Brazil, a shoreline he has tracked since the fleet left Punta del Este in Uruguay on March 27. He is currently enjoying perfect sailing conditions in the south easterly tradewinds south of the Doldrums.
He added: 'I always describe the first part of this leg as a bit like driving through Texas. When you drive south across the USA the most depressing part is driving through Texas because it is so huge you never seem to get anywhere. Brazil is the same for us on this leg – the thing goes on and on and on, it’s a bit like the Twilight Zone. It’s great to be round Recife and watching the shoreline disappear again.
'I’m now sitting on 13 or 14 knots, the boat is trucking right along. Once into the north easterly Trades I’ll be on the same kind of wind angle I am on now. If we can get a quick Doldrums crossing we will be able to eat up miles pretty quickly.'
The Velux 5 Oceans fleet have so far sailed more than 2,200 nautical miles on ocean sprint four, a 5,700 mile leg to Charleston on the eastern seaboard of the United States of America. Positions at 0600 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: STEALTH MODE
Derek Hatfield, Active House: STEALTH MODE
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 3595.9/ NA /210.5 / 8.8
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 3596.2 / NA/ 230.5 / 9.6 www.velux5oceans.com