Point Loma Outfitting - sailing clothing, outdoor performance wear, foul weather gear in San Diego

Saling Gear Product Logos (Animation requires the Flash plug-in and Javascript enabled.)
Call us today: Our phone number is 866-488-4060.

UNPREDICTABLE TROPICALWEATHER BRINGS MISERY TO VELUX 5 OCEANS FLEET

October 29th, 2010

Intertropical convergence zone plays havoc with race leaders

 

THEY say it’s tough at the top, and that’s something American ocean racer Brad Van Liew knows only too well as he struggles through the Doldrums at the head of the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet. The 42-year-old skipper of Le Pingouin has a seemingly comfortable lead of around 80 nautical miles on his nearest rival, Polish solo sailor Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski. But for Brad and his fellow competitors it is not just a battle against their opponents on the water – it is a battle against nature itself.

Sweltering temperatures, unpleasant humidity, ever-changing weather conditions and severe lack of sleep have dogged the leaders for several days after entering the Doldrums, the notorious moving band of low pressure that runs a few hundred miles from the Equator. One moment the ocean racers could be totally becalmed, bobbing about on a tranquil sea. The next, without any warning, they could be in the centre of storm battling 30 knot winds and lashing rain. This, combined with the sheer frustration of sailing alone through this area of the world, has taken its toll on the fleet, now 12 days into their 7,400 nautical mile sprint from La Rochelle to Cape Town.

“I’m really, really tired,” Brad said today. “I’m just fighting through the Doldrums. There is never a dull moment – there is either too much wind from the wrong direction or not enough wind from the right direction, massive thunder storms. It’s chaos. I am lacking sleep big time. I can’t really even tell you what sort of sleep I have had in the last 48 hours – maybe three hours? I’m running on empty right now. I’m anxiously looking for the other side of the Doldrums. It looks like I might have another 50 miles to go. It’s just really difficult to keep the boat going in the right direction. I want to keep heading south and get the hell out of here as soon as possible.”

It was a similarly exasperating scenario for Operon Racing skipper Gutek, who after two weeks of chasing refuses to let Brad out of his grasp. “As soon as I hit the tropical winds zone the boat’s speed dropped to five knots,” Gutek said. “As I reached the huge cumulonimbus cloud, the world changed dramatically. The first blow had 22 knots and was taking me towards the Caribbean Islands. So I had to change sails quickly for those suited for going upwind and got back to my previous course. After a couple of minutes there was another change, and it went from 22 knots of wind to five knots. There wasn’t even any rain, so I couldn’t take a shower to wash off the sea salt from my skin.”

A wash is something Brad at least managed after spending the morning under tropical rain clouds. “In the past whenever I have tried to take a tropical rain shower it has never worked, the rain usually stops as soon as I have got all soapy and lathered up,” he said. “I normally don’t even bother but this morning I thought I’d give it go and it worked out nice! It was a pleasant little bonus.”

Despite their complaints, Brad and Gutek’s passage through the Doldrums has actually been relatively quick. Since 12pm UTC yesterday, Brad has sailed 182.1 nautical miles at an average of 7.6 knots, while Gutek managed 177.5 nautical miles at 7.4 knots. The only skipper to sail further was third placed Canadian Derek Hatfield, who took a bite out of the leading pair’s advantage. In the 24 hours leading up to the midday report Derek sailed 213 nautical miles, and is now 292 miles behind Brad. Despite making advances on the leaders, Derek has been struggling with the tropical conditions too.

“The temperature is right up there now as we near the Equator,” he said. “I don’t have a thermometer onboard but it’s got to be about 95F to 100F (35C to 38C) outside the boat and inside too. There really is no escaping it. Staying clean is a challenge too. There’s no fresh water to wash in, no shower on board, just baby wipes. Within minutes of going on deck you are sweating profusely, all in your eyes and everywhere. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining for all those people going through winter in the north, but we all have our challenges right?”

Statistics from 12pm UTC position report:

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: 3,727.6; 0; 182.1; 7.6
Gutek: 3,810.4; 82.7; 177.5; 7.4
Derek Hatfield: 4,019.4; 291.8; 213.6; 8.9
Chris Stanmore-Major: 4,386.4; 658.7; 186.2; 7.8
Christophe Bullens: 5,776.2; 2,048.6; 125.3; 5.2

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After leaving from La Rochelle on October 17th the fleet now head to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

VELUX 5 OCEANS FLEET LINE UP FOR FIRST TIMED RUN OF THE RACE

October 28th, 2010

 Bonus points awarded for fastest passage through set gates

THE VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet continues to spread out as the five ocean racers head towards the Equator and their first timed run of the race. At the front of the fleet Brad Van Liew and Zbigniew Gutkowski have been reaping the rewards for taking a more westerly route out into the Atlantic, increasing the gap between them and Derek Hatfield in third to some 300 nautical miles.

The leading pair have both been pushing their Eco 60 yachts equally hard as they approach the Doldrums. Brad suffered yet another knockdown yesterday brought about by a high-speed crash gybe, his third in seven days. After slicing open his forehead on the wind generator blade on Operon Racing two days ago, Gutek has been concentrating on reducing Brad’s lead, and at the last position report he was trailing by just 78 nautical miles.

“It looks like both Brad and I can go through quite quickly through the Doldrums,” Gutek said. “I can remember one crossing like that – even hard to notice that you are going through a ‘no-wind-zone’. I am counting on a weather change that could give me a chance. If a low pressure system appears behind Brad, I will go with it and take shorter way. But it could be also that Brad will go with it, and I will not be fast enough.”

As well as the dreaded Doldrums, the leaders are quickly approaching the first ‘timed run’ gate of the race. Between the latitudes 5N and 5S the skippers will be timed, and the fastest boat to sail through this section will be awarded bonus points. At midday UTC Brad was less than 150 miles to the first gate.

Another hoping to pick up points through the speed gates is Chris Stanmore-Major, the British solo sailor who earlier this week had a run of problems with his spinnaker which cost him miles on his opposition. CSM is hoping he can get through the gates quickly on Spartan to pick up bonus points and jump up the leaderboard.

The 33-year-old former Clipper Round the World Yacht Race skipper said: “I’m going to try to set myself up as best I can for a quick run between that 10 degree section that encompasses the Doldrums. I’m looking to get the best wind angle I can. I’ve got my weather information and I am now starting to work out where the Doldrums are and where the best place to cut through them is. But as anyone who has traversed this area knows, it’s a bit of a lottery. Choosing to put the speed gate in this area is a wise move by the race committee because it will mean we will have to show our skills as to how quickly we can get across.”

Despite experiencing lighter breezes today of around six knots, CSM is also hoping to pull back some miles on his nearest competitor Derek, around 340 nautical miles in front.

“I am trying to get myself off this west African coast and back towards a more normal line near the Cape Verde Islands and chase down Derek,” he said. “That in itself is going to be very difficult. Derek is a very experienced sailor, he’s got a great boat and he’s got a hefty lead on me. Derek is a distance away that I can realistically work on and in the past couple of days I have managed to get back at him even though I haven’t had a kite so I think it’s doable. It all depends on what happens once we go into the ITCZ (intertropical convergence zone) and how the fleet reshuffles.”

It’s been yet another frustratingly slow day for Belgian ocean racer Christophe Bullens who has been dogged by light winds off the coast of Portugal for several days. Christophe now trails Brad by nearly 2,000 nautical miles and is around 1,600 nautical miles behind fourth placed CSM.

Statistics from 12pm UTC position report:

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: 3,909.7; 0; 248.3; 10.3
Gutek: 3,987.9; 78.2; 256.1; 10.7
Derek Hatfield: 4,233.1; 323.4; 239.1; 10
Chris Stanmore-Major: 4,572.6; 662.8; 164.2; 6.8
Christophe Bullens: 5,901.5; 1991.8; 125.3; 5.2

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After leaving from La Rochelle on October 17th the fleet now head to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

VELUX 5 OCEANS FLEET TAKE ON BIGGEST CHALLENGE YET: THE DOLDRUMS

October 27th, 2010

 Ocean racers lining up for tricky Equator crossing

THE competition – and the weather – is really starting to hot up as the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet press south towards the Equator. After ten days of sailing which have seen the fleet encounter a host of weather conditions from frustrating, light breeze to strong winds and high seas, the five ocean racers have their biggest challenge of the leg so far ahead of them: the Doldrums.

The Doldrums is one of the most challenging regions to sail through in the world: a dynamic, moving area of high pressure found a few hundred miles either side of the equator where the northern and southern hemispheres meet, characterised by incredibly light winds and notorious for its sudden and unforeseen squalls and storms. Coupled with hot, humid temperatures, and days of potentially slow progress, the Doldrums will be a huge test for the skippers.

At the head of the fleet, American solo sailor Brad Van Liew continues to stretch his lead over the chasing pack. The latest position report at 12pm UTC put the 42-year-old from Charleston, South Carolina, 86 nautical miles ahead of Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski as the pair blast south past the Cape Verde Islands.

Canadian Derek Hatfield changed course overnight to avoid the islands, and now trails Brad by 314 miles. A passage too close to them could cause problems for the sailors due to the light, unpredictable winds that can be found around the islands. The 57-year-old sailed west for eight hours to clear the islands and also put his Eco 60 yacht Active House on course to cross the Doldrums.

“I’ve been looking at the Doldrums and I’m going to push a little harder now,” Derek said today. “I had to put in a jog to the west last night which was pretty painful, but right from Cape Finisterre I haven’t been far enough west. I have been paying the price for that ever since. I spent eight hours last night going west to put me in a better position to go round the Cape Verde Islands and gives me a proper angle on the Doldrums. I’m trucking along at 15 knots and I’m much happier with life.”

“I need to be through the Doldrums by Sunday or the door is going to close and the Doldrums will move further south,” he added. “I think Brad and Gutek will have a nice run through and hopefully I can get through too.”

While Brad suffered two knockdowns on Le Pingouin and Gutek was caught out with too much sail up as they both headed through a low pressure system, Derek, who chose a similar course, has so far escaped unscathed.

“I haven’t had any hairy moments yet,” Derek said. “Last night I gybed twice and both went well, nothing broke. There was 22 knots of wind and it was dark so I’m pretty pleased. Everything’s pretty calm onboard. I check the boat often to make sure I don’t get into trouble although you can get into trouble pretty quickly out here.”

Gutek has been recovering from a nasty injury to his head caused by the wind generator on Operon Racing. The blades on the wind generator sliced his forehead in several places yesterday forcing the 36-year-old to get out the needle and thread and stitch his wounds back together. To add more misery, Gutek got an electric shock from his hydrogenerator while trying to fix it yesterday. “Is it not enough that I’m already wounded?” he wrote this morning. “An electric shock now? Wonderful.”

British skipper Chris Stanmore-Major, who chose a course closer to the coast of northern Africa, was last positioned off the coast of Mauritiana. Despite his fourth place, CSM clocked the highest average speed between the morning and midday reports on Spartan averaging 12 knots.

Christophe Bullens, more than 1,800 nautical miles behind Brad after returning to La Rochelle after the race start last Sunday, has also chosen a more inshore route hugging the Portuguese coastline. His yacht Five Oceans of Smiles too continues to be plagued by electrical problems and his average speed over the last 24 hours was polled at just 3.1 knots. The 49-year-old Belgian was joined on his voyage yesterday by a pod of dolphins – but even they will have provided little comfort in these difficult times.

Statistics from 12pm UTC position report:

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: 4,158; 0; 288; 12

Gutek: 4,244; 86; 268.9; 11.2

Derek Hatfield: 4,472.2; 314.4; 186.2; 7.8

Chris Stanmore-Major: 4,736.8; 578.7; 242.6; 10.1

Christophe Bullens: 6,026; 1,868.8; 75.3; 3.1

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After leaving from La Rochelle on October 17th the fleet now head to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

FIRST BLOOD SPILT IN VELUX 5 OCEANS

October 26th, 2010

Polish ocean racer suffers deep cuts to forehead as fleet heads south 

IT has been another day of drama for the VELUX 5 OCEANS skippers as they head further south towards the Equator. Following on from a manic day on the water yesterday which saw Brad Van Liew’s Le Pingouin knocked flat for the second time in days and Chris Stanmore-Major nearly lose his headsail twice, Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski became the first skipper to sustain a notable injury after slicing his head open on the blade of his wind generator.

Gutek suffered several cuts to his head as he tried to clear seaweed from the rudders of his Eco 60 yacht Operon Racing. “I don’t know how bad my wounds are, but I know that I was bleeding badly,” he said today. “At once I put on a head dressing to stop the bleeding. I couldn’t even estimate the size of my wound because my eyes were flooded with blood and couldn’t look at the mirror. I was really scared that I might not make it and lose consciousness because of the blood lost.”

The injury means Gutek has been forced to stay down below on Operon Racing to keep the cuts dry and free from infection. “I can’t go outside, because the waves come onboard very often and the boat is sailing with quite a big heel,” the 36-year-old added. “I don’t want to get my wound wet. The blades had enough sea salt on them. My wound is on my forehead, up under the hair. Not one cut, but a couple of them. It is just impossible to make a stitch – I will have a big scar for sure.”

Although the VELUX 5 OCEANS’ team of medical experts from Medical Offshore Support (MSOS) are on call 24/7, Gutek has been in regular contact his wife Eliza, a veterinary surgeon, for advice on dressing the wound. All of the skippers received medical training before setting sail from La Rochelle, and MSOS provide round-the-clock medical support to skippers while they are at sea.

Meanwhile American Brad Van Liew extended his lead over second-placed Gutek and the chasing pack as he charged south, just to the west of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Senegal. More than 60 nautical miles now separate the two, with Canadian Derek Hatfield around 200 nautical miles behind Brad in third place.

“It’s all been about going fast these last few days and laying down some miles,” Brad said. “I feel great to have stretched out a little bit on Derek and gotten a little bit of an advantage over Gutek. The Tradewinds are a good place to do that – if you have the horsepower and you are willing to lose a little sleep you just keep the boat fully powered up which is what I have been doing. I’ve been pushing the boat hard the last few days, sometimes on the verge.”

The racers at the leading edge of the pack have enjoyed some quick days of sailing, often covering more than 300 nautical miles in a day in favourable conditions. However one of their biggest challenges lays in wait – the Doldrums. Notorious for its light but unpredictable weather, the Doldrums is one of the most challenging areas of the world to sail through.

“We’re going to get the rubber band effect with the fleet, meaning it’s going to contract and expand here and there in the next few days” said Brad. “I think what’s more likely is the rubber band will get tighter and looser depending on what happens in the Doldrums – that’s the next big thing.”

The skippers are just nine days into the first of five ocean sprints that make up the VELUX 5 OCEANS, but Brad is already finding his feet, alone at sea for the first time in eight years. Brad has taken part in this race twice before, winning class two of the event in 2002. “I’m having a lot of fun getting to know the boat and getting back in the groove,” he said. “It’s been a lot of years since I did a voyage this big, especially alone, and I’m enjoying being out here more than I ever have before. It’s so far been a fantastic sail on a great boat in a great event.”

British solo sailor Chris Stanmore-Major has been recovering after a crazy few days onboard Spartan which saw him fight to recover his reaching headsail after the fitting attaching it to the front of his yacht broke twice in 48 hours. Stanmore-Major was left with no choice but to drop the sail in the sea then haul it, heavy and wet, back onto Spartan’s deck.

“I am proud I got that sail back in and didn’t just cut it away,” he said. “Yes, I lost time but I gained a chance for another leg of this race. I repaired all the damage the incident did although Spartan will carry some of the scars to Cape Town. But most importantly I feel I have passed to a new level of respect and understanding of these boats. Perhaps it is that in the end which will help towards future success if now it has only lost me more time and let the others slip further away.”

Belgian sailor Christophe Bullens has been struggling to find breeze after passing Cape Finisterre off the north west tip of Spain last night. His progress has also been hampered by electrical problems on his yacht Five Oceans of Smiles too.

“Here there is no wind and the problem is I don’t have any electronics. No wind speed or wind direction, no boat speed, no radar and my autopilot doesn’t work anymore. Apart from that the boat is going really well and each day I hope to repair one more thing.”

Statistics from 12pm UTC position report:

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: 4,446; 0; 304.9; 12.7
Gutek: 4,512.9; 66.9; 281.5; 11.7
Derek Hatfield: 4,658.4; 212.4; 258.3; 10.8
Chris Stanmore-Major: 4979.3; 533.3; 185.5; 7.6
Christophe Bullens: 6,102.1; 1,656.1; 137.8; 5.7

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After leaving from La Rochelle on October 17th the fleet now head to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

48 HOURS OF DRAMA ON THE SEAS FOR CHRIS STANMORE-MAJOR IN THE VELUX 5 OCEANS

October 25th, 2010

IT’S been a baptism of fire for British solo sailor Chris Stanmore-Major in his first ever singlehanded race after he was struck down with problems while blasting along at more than 20 knots.

After a run of frustrating days becalmed off the Portuguese coast last week, the 33-year-old had finally been enjoying fast sailing in fresh conditions through the Canary Islands. CSM had hoped to use the favourable conditions to claw back some of the 400 miles separating him from race leader Brad Van Liew.

But disaster struck around 8am UTC when the fitting holding the massive spinnaker to the front of his yacht Spartan shattered and the giant sail flew up in the air, attached only by one rope at the top of the 28-metre high mast. It was the second time the fitting had broken in two days.

“I was coming down the eastern side of Gran Canaria with the reacher and the full main up,” CSM reported this morning. “I thought I had a good opportunity to get some distance back on the other guys, I was hooning along at 18 to 20 knots. Everything was fine and I was just starting to think I have to quieten all this down a bit, it was just getting a little bit too much. Just as I was thinking that a massive gust came off the top of Gran Canaria and it just floored the boat. The main powered up and we rounded up into the wind. At the same time the tack fitting on the furler, the bit that holds the reacher onto the bowsprit, gave way and the sail carried off into the sky, attached now only by the sheets and the halyard.”

The incident caused substantial damage to 60ft Spartan. Several stanchions – metal rods that run down the length of the yacht – were broken off and one of the ropes holding up the sail cut into the deck of the boat. CSM was then left with the dilemma of retrieving the sail, flying like an enormous kite from the top of the mast.

“I managed to slowly ease it down and I got the sail to drop into the water and then pass down the starboard side and then stream out behind the boat,” he explained. “Using a combination of halyard height and boat speed I slowed the boat down and increased the speed of the sail in the water until the sail caught up with the boat and I could put a line round it. I’ve got to get it out of the water and onboard. In the sail loft it’s 70-80 kilos of deadweight. Now it’s full of water and the boat is still moving just from the windage on the mast – it’s an absolute pig. It looks like my opportunity to catch up with the other guys just fizzled out and instead today has become another frustrating day of problems and going slow.”

CSM added: “There have been times since then where I have thought ‘I have no idea how to do this’. But you just look at the problem and really think about it and try to think of some smart way of using the bits and bobs that you’ve got to help solve the problem. The race is round the world, not just to Cape Town.”

CSM is not the only skipper to have encountered testing conditions. Brad Van Liew, at the head of the fleet, suffered his second knockdown in just four days after being hit by a freak gust. Brad, leading second-placed Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski by 43 nautical miles according to the 12pm UTC position report, has been sailing in a low pressure system for several days now that has brought big seas and strong winds.

“The seas are so confused that the autopilot just can’t steer,” the 42-year-old American said. “The wind picked up to 40 knots and it was just like ‘bam’ and the boat was on its side. I am so tired of this low pressure, it’s unbelievable.”

Brad’s westerly course appears to be paying off for the time being, with his yacht Le Pingouin clocking the fastest average speed of the fleet in the last 24 hours at 12.9 knots.

Polish ocean racer Gutek has been chasing Brad hard but has stayed slightly more east, away from the strongest winds. As the fleet travel further south towards the Equator, the 36-year-old former dinghy champion has been coming to terms with the realities of life at sea alone. He said: “For the first time in the race I am lying down and bored, sitting like a rat below deck. Upstairs is hot and wet. I don’t have even a book.”

Canadian Derek Hatfield, last polled in third position, is looking forward to crossing the Equator, the next big milestone for the fleet as they head to Cape Town. “I would like to be a bit farther west as I don’t want to go through the Cape Verde Islands,” he said. “We are now setting up for the crossing of the Equator which should happen in under six days. Roll on Equator.”

Belgian singlehander Christophe Bullens left La Rochelle yesterday morning on his new Eco 60 yacht Five Oceans of Smiles too. Christophe’s campaign was thrown into jeopardy when his original yacht Five Oceans of Smiles was cruelly dismasted 15 miles off the coast of France en route to La Rochelle. But he managed to find another boat to race in at the last minute and started the 30,000-mile solo race on time before returning to La Rochelle to make final preparations.

Since leaving he has been making good progress through the Bay of Biscay towards the open waters of the Atlantic. Christophe is expecting to pass Cape Finisterre on the north east corner of Spain this evening. At 12pm UTC Christophe was almost 1,490 nautical miles behind Brad and Le Pingouin.

“I am a little tired, however I am happy to be at sea,” he said. “I still have a few things to learn about the boat. It is different from the other boat and I need to get used to her, but it’s a good start.”

The fleet have now been at sea eight days and have more than 4,700 nautical miles left to sail to Cape Town.

Statistics from 12pm UTC position report:

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: 4,750.9; 0; 310.2; 12.9

Gutek: 4,794.4; 43.5; 293.3; 12.2

Derek Hatfield: 4,916.7; 165.7; 276.4; 11.5

Chris Stanmore-Major: 5,160.8; 409.9; 267.3; 11.1

Christophe Bullens: 6,239.9; 1,488.9; 256.3; 10.7

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After leaving from La Rochelle on October 17th the fleet now head to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

BRAD VAN LIEW’S LE PINGOUN KNOCKED FLAT IN FIRST RACE SCARE

October 22nd, 2010

AMERICAN ocean racer Brad Van Liew had his first scare of the VELUX 5 OCEANS just days into the first ocean sprint when his yacht Le Pingouin was knocked flat in the Atlantic.

Brad had been resting in his bunk with Le Pingouin travelling at 20 knots when the power to his autopilot, the device that steers the boat, failed, forcing the boat to crash gybe – an involuntary movement when the wind changes direction suddenly forcing the boat’s sails to move violently onto the other side of the boat. Le Pingouin was knocked 90 degrees onto her side, her sails flat to the water and Brad was thrown from his bunk.

The 42-year-old, along with Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Canadian Derek Hatfied, opted to sail west towards the Azores in search of more wind – and they found it in abundance, with some gusts hitting 45 knots. When his boat was knocked flat Brad, a very experienced solo sailor who has been round the world singlehanded twice before, immediately feared the worst, reaching for Le Pingouin’s liferaft in case her keel had fallen off.

“I had just crawled into my bunk for a much deserved and long awaited nap,” he explained. “I was just dozing off when the autopilot shut off due to a lack of power. The boat crashed into a gybe. I was sleeping on the high side and when you crash gybe you end up on the low side. A few things got tossed round the cabin. The boat laid so flat in the water that my first reaction was to reach for the liferaft – I thought the keel had fallen off and we were rolling over. I didn’t know how serious it was but it was so violent, the way it crashed and laid flat. It didn’t seem like it should be that violent.

“My initial thought before I went on deck was that something really serious had happened. Then it stopped and the boat didn’t roll over and I realised it wasn’t that the keel had gone. By the time I got on deck and was alert enough to look at what was going on I realised the boat had crash-gybed, but I didn’t know why. Turns out it was just a mismanagement of power on the boat and it caused a low voltage situation – that was the culprit. I can’t blame anyone else but myself!

“My approach to these things is to just take time t think about the situation, don’t just go running into it. I assessed the situation for about 30 seconds before I did anything, and we were laid flat for about five minutes in total. The good news is the boat appears to be ok, and I’m ok.”

Race leader Gutek was also caught out last night, this time by a freak gust of 45 knots hitting Operon Racing as she ploughed through 7-8-metre seas at 22 knots.

“I had a lot work with sail changes, and after all I decided to put up a little spinnaker,” he said. “And suddenly it came: a burst of 45 knots, huge waves – the boat started to fly. I just asked myself how to get this sail down? Boat speed was a steady 22 knots, like driving F1 on a big highway full speed waiting for something to go wrong… So I said to myself – Ok, let’s try to get it down, otherwise it will fly away or I will have to cut it out down. What else could I do? Thankfully I finally I managed it.”

Meanwhile ocean racer Derek Hatfield has been reeling in the VELUX 5 OCEANS front runners after putting in the best performance of the last 24 hours. After a frustrating start for the 57-year-old which saw him struggle to get his Eco 60 yacht Active House into a groove, Derek has been clawing back places sailing the furthest out of any of the skippers in the 24 hours from 12pm UTC yesterday.

Active House averaged nine knots and sailed a total of 216.8 nautical miles over that 24 hour period, reducing the distance between Derek and Gutek by 27 nautical miles to just 75.3 nautical miles. Polish solo sailor Gutek sailed 189.5 nautical miles during the time period while Briton Chris Stanmore-Major, stuck in light airs off the coast of Spain, managed just 67.8 nautical miles.

CSM, skipper of Spartan, chose to hug the Spanish coast taking a more direct route to Cape Town. The move seemed to pay off when hecut inside the fleet and jumped three places into second position. While the others went west searching for wind, CSM chose to stay put. Two days of high pressure and little wind has cost him two places and he has slipped to fourth place.

“I managed to drag myself out of it yesterday and got some reasonable breeze,” he said. “I had some decent speeds out of the boat and was making my way south on the course that I wanted, about 220 degrees, and then about 4am this morning the wind just completely disappeared. Now there’s no wind at all. As I read it now on the dial there is 0.5 of a knot of wind. The boat is just struggling forward at 0.2 knots. I’ve got the boat healed over using the canting keel so the sails take on some kind of shape but as I speak the sails are flapping uselessly and my flags are hanging straight down. We are going absolutely nowhere.”

Despite his lack of progress, the latest position report placed CSM just 225 miles behind Gutek. The 33-year-old was remaining positive about his position while awaiting the forecasted breeze to fill in.

“I’ve been in this situation before and it is frustrating but it’s also an opportunity to jobs on the boat which require a level deck,” he said. “If you started to get too worried about it and started to count the miles the other guys are dragging away from me it would be very worrying. The other guys took a massive detour off that route to get the good breeze and all credit to them, they have done a really good job of it. But when the breeze starts to fill back in in the next 12 hours it will come in the same for all of us and I am on that inside line, the straightest possible route. I’m hoping I can drag some of the miles back. We shall see, but it’s not all over yet, we’re only a few hundred miles into it and there’s still a long way to go.”

Christophe Bullens had hoped to set sail from La Rochelle at 5pm afternoon but decided to delay his departure by 12 hours to finish some work to the electronics onboard Five Oceans of Smiles too. He has more than 900 miles to catch up if he is to overtake Gutek – but with ocean racing, anything can happen!

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After leaving from La Rochelle on October 17th the fleet now head to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

Patagonia Advocate

October 19th, 2010

Point Loma Outfitting now has the New Patagonia Advocate, a 100% synthetic, ultra-lightweight slip-on that is highly packable for travel, camp. or boat.
The Advocate for women by Patagonia, is the ultimate travel shoe – smash it into your glove box, backpack or carry-on and pull it out at camp. The slip-on’s 100% synthetic leather upper is durable and super soft. Recycled, dual-density EVA anatomical footbed and insole lend cushioning support. Elastic stretch bands and rear pull loop allow for easy on/off.
The Patagonia Women’s Advocate come in three colors: Dark Ruby, Teakwood, and Blue Yonder.
The Patagonia Advocate for Men comes in three colors as well: Sable Brown, Sea Grass, and Narwahl Grey.
The Advocate is made of durable, super soft synthetic leather with a 20% recycled EVA anatomical footbed and l5% recycled EVA insole for cushioning and support, the Advocate packs down to just over an inch to fit in your glove box, messenger bag, carry-on, or tent pocket to wear after a run or catching a wave, on the plane, post-climb or around the site.
Patagonia partnered with l% For the Planet to create a clean simple, portable, ultra comfy, insanely lightweight  slip-on with a purpose all your sports adventures. http://www.pointlomaoutfitting.com/c/PFOOT.html