Velux 5 Oceans third sprint has had an exciting few days as the solo skippers make quick progress east. In the 48 hours since the fleet left Wellington positions have been constantly changing as the skippers jostle for the best route and quickest boatspeed.
Extra crew assist Brad Van Liew to the start of the Ocean Sprint 3 in Wellington on Sunday. - Velux 5 Oceans
At the 0000 UTC position report it was American ocean racer Brad Van Liew on Le Pingouin who was out in front with a 19-mile lead over second-placed Derek Hatfield on Active House. Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski was just three miles behind Derek with Chris Stanmore-Major trailing the leader by 75 miles. Brad, the overall race leader, told the Velux 5 Oceans race team today he was relishing the quick downwind sailing and tight competition the first few days of the leg had offered up.
'It’s definitely a much better start to a leg than the last one,' he said. 'I’m praying for a good one all the way round Cape Horn, that’s the tricky gate here, but it looks like it’s going to be a good leg. I’ve got to try to stay out of these high pressure areas. It sounds like we’re all having more fun as a fleet, we’ve been pretty tight and all four of us were in sight of each other, right on top of each other. It’s been pretty cool so far.
'The hours after the start of the race were brilliant. We were all very close and had a great few hours. It was a really fun night. Gutek and I were so close as the sun went down that we were able to talk boat to boat. At one point I stopped in a wind hole and I had to sail in reverse to get out of the situation. Gutek was so close that he had to sail round me to avoid hitting me. It’s been a good tight leg so far and as long as the weather gods are in our favour it could be a fast one too.'
Despite the champagne sailing of the past few days Van Liew is ever aware of what awaits on the 6,000 nautical mile sprint to Punta del Este in Uruguay. The fleet must first survive the Southern Ocean before rounding the notorious Cape Horn, the southerly tip of South America.
'There’s always butterflies in your gut on this leg' Brad added. 'Derek and I both have history with Cape Horn. I nearly lost everything rounding Cape Horn during the 1998 Around Alone in a storm that was the worst weather I have ever seen in my life. Derek pitchpoled at the Horn in 2002 and lost his rig.
'There’s going to be a lot of apprehension on this leg. Anyone who feels they are going to come down here and thinks they are going to conquer it easily is very misguided. The reality of this leg is you gently tread along and do what you can to maintain boatspeed. You ask for permission to sail here, you don’t demand anything.'
Ocean sprint three 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: 5461.6/ 0/ 234.3 /9.8
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 5478.3 /16.7 /218.9 /9.1
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 5489.1 /27.5/ 219.6 /9.1
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 5516.5/ 55/ 179.7/ 7.5