Velux 5 Oceans sprint five maybe only three days in but it’s already shaping up to be a thrilling battle. With a wet and wild start to the final leg overall race leader Brad Van Liew and young gun Chris Stanmore-Major hit speeds of 30 knots in a quick start to final sprint.
The pair, duelling for the front spot, both made blisteringly quick starts to the race with 24-hour runs of more than 340 miles at speeds of 20 knots and more. Since the 3,600-mile sprint to La Rochelle, France, started in Charleston, USA, on Saturday, Brad and CSM have already put over 60 miles between their race rivals Derek Hatfield and Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski.
'I don’t know what the deal is with CSM but he must want the award for most improved sailor of the millennium,' Brad told the Velux 5 Oceans race team today. 'He’s on a tear right now. It was a great move he made to get into that position and it’s really paying off for him. It’s great to have Chris up here but it’s making me push Le Pingouin a little bit harder that I would like right now. I don’t mind if Chris passes me at this point but I do not want to lose touch with him.'
Not only has he been challenging for the lead but CSM’s Eco 60 Spartan has also been the fastest yacht of the fleet since the start of the leg, averaging a massive 13.9 knots.
'I am gripping the nav table and wondering how much faster I can go before parts start to rip off and things start to break, but nothing happens and the ride just goes on and on and on,' CSM wrote today in his first despatch of the sprint.
'I broke my standing speed record of 24 knots this morning, broke it again at midday at 28 knots and broke it again as I began to write this blog at 30 knots. My determination has never been stronger, my skills never this developed and Spartan never in better condition. This is my race and win lose or bust, I intend to give it my best right to the finish line.'
Further back in the fleet Derek on Active House and Gutek on Operon Racing have been licking their wounds after being hit by a series of brutal thunderstorms on their first night at sea. The storms brought 50-knot winds and confused seas which hampered their chase of Brad and CSM. Onboard Operon Racing Gutek was forced to stop his boat completely for four hours after breaking three cars at the top of his mainsail as well as picking up a fishing net on his keel.
Despite the fast conditions of the first few days the fleet are about to hit a high pressure zone within the next 24 hours which will see them consolidate once more. Positions at 1200 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: 3037.1 / 0/ 345 / 14.4
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 3050.4 / 13.3 / 354.4 / 14.8
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 3112.8 / 75.7 / 293.2 / 12.2
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 3138.5 / 101.4 / 257.4 / 10.7 Velux 5 Oceans website