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BMW ORACLE Racing congratulates Team New Zealand

November 27th, 2010

DUBAI, UAE (Nov. 27, 2010) – BMW ORACLE Racing fell short of its goal of winning the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai, the final regatta for the America’s Cup Class, when Emirates Team New Zealand scored a 2-0 victory in the final.

BMW ORACLE Racing led at the first windward mark in both races, but succumbed to uncharacteristic mishaps in crew work that their strong rival capitalized on.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” said James Spithill, the 31-year-old skipper from Australia. “We had our opportunities in both races, but they beat us fair and square. The results stand and we’ve got to congratulate them. They’re a strong team and sailed a good regatta.”

BMW ORACLE Racing lost the first race by 17 seconds in the final 100 meters approaching the finish line.

BMW ORACLE Racing had taken a penalty turn for a pre-start infraction on the second upwind leg and led by about two boatlengths when the two crews jibed towards the finish from opposite sides of the racecourse.

The Kiwi crew jibed into a patch of wind that allowed them to sail a more direct course to the finish and score the come-from-behind victory.

In the second race BMW ORACLE Racing led by 11 seconds at the windward mark, but the spinnaker ripped during the set when it caught on the ladder going belowdecks. The crew had to change sails and Emirates Team New Zealand sailed into the lead.

“That put us on the back foot,” Spithill said of the torn spinnaker. “It was a frustrating day. The conditions were tough, very light. I think both teams were expecting more breeze, but it’s the same for everyone and they were able to get it done today.”

Tactician John Kostecki of the U.S. described the conditions as between 6 and 9 knotswith shifts up to 40 degrees.

“It was a light-air day and real tricky,” said Kostecki. “Pressure was the key; a little pressure goes a long way. It was the first time in this series that we were passed from behind and it happened two races in a row. It was their day today, but it was a tough day for us.”

34TH America’s Cup announces partnership with Louis Vuitton

November 27th, 2010

Louis Vuitton Cup Once Again Challenger Series for the America’s Cup

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (27 November 2010) – The next major step in realizing its new vision, the America’s Cup Event Authority introduced its first partner, Louis Vuitton. A continuation of its 30-year long association with the America’s Cup, the Paris based fashion house will present the prize, the Louis Vuitton Cup, to the winner of the
America’s Cup Challenger Series, as well as serve as Official Timing for the 34th America’s Cup.

“We are thrilled to announce today the continuation of our 30-year partnership with the America’s Cup. Having met with the team several times, we believe that the 34th edition will be the best America’s Cup yet,” said Yves Carcelle, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton Malletier.

In 2013, the Challenger Series will be staged with the winner earning the right to compete in the America’s Cup Finals. The Challenger series will be once again called the Louis Vuitton Cup, recognizing the brand’s long partnership with the America’s Cup. In addition, Louis Vuitton will be Official Timing for the America’s Cup World Series competitions, promoting its watch collection.

“We are extremely priveleged that our vision for the next America’s Cup has attracted the return of a company like Louis Vuitton,” said Richard Worth, Chairman, America’s Cup Event Authority. “The 34th America’s Cup will culminate in 2013, marking the 30th anniversary of Louis Vuitton’s support of the sport of sailing, so we could not be more
proud to see this great partnership continue and strengthen.”

Since 1983, the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series has been held whenever there has been more than one challenger team for the America’s Cup. Its role is twofold – to select the best challenger team from the teams presented and, to prepare the winner for success against the Defender in the following America’s Cup Finals.

“I have competed for the Louis Vuitton Cup three times in the past, so I know how important it is to the  Challenger’s success. We welcome the return of Louis Vuitton and look forward to racing the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2013,” said Russell Coutts, CEO, BMW ORACLE Racing.

The Louis Vuitton Cup will be in the summer of 2013, with the America’s Cup Finals in early fall. The events will feature the AC72 wing-masted catamaran, a ground-breaking new boat designed to deliver unparalleled racing  competition and on-the-water excitement.

“Louis Vuitton is a House that cherishes the art of travel and the spirit of adventure. As a long-time partner, we are very happy to be able to accompany the future of the America’s Cup,” said Pietro Beccari, Executive Vice-President of Louis Vuitton.


November 27th, 2010

Belgian skipper’s sail fitting breaks and food destroyed in night of drama

UP to two tonnes of water flooded into Belgian ocean racer Christophe Bullens’ yacht Five Oceans of Smiles too last night after a part on his generator broke. Christophe awoke in the early hours to find water up to his knees in the engine compartment of the Eco 60 yacht.

To make matters worse several rubbish bags had split open, spilling their contents into the compartment. It took the 49-year-old VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper hours to bail the water out of the engine compartment and clean the rubbish up.

It was beginning of a long night for Christophe that also saw a fitting holding his foresail break and his food store flooded with water. The problems began when Christophe was awoken by the smell of fuel in the cabin.

“I woke up with a headache and had a real urge to get some fresh air quickly,” he said. “I saw a blue fog in the boat and recognised the smell of fuel. I went into the engine compartment and it was a nightmare. There was water up to the knees, everything was flooded. My rubbish bags were floating on the water and had been ripped – rubbish was everywhere. The water lock on the generator was broken so all the water from the recooling of the engine was pouring inside for nearly an hour. I estimate the volume of water to be between one and two tonnes.”

After spending several hours bailing the water out, Christophe took the helm of Five Oceans of Smiles too to allow his autopilot to rest. Shortly afterwards he heard a loud bang and on closer inspection found a fitting holding his Solent foresail in place had broken. Luckily the sail was not damaged and Christophe was able to reattach it after fixing the fitting.

Just to add insult to injury, Christophe later discovered the compartment storing his food supplies had flooded with water. “I went to make some dinner, opened the food compartment, and to my horror it was flooded,” Christophe said. “Luckily the freeze dried food is packaged separately and is still dry. Everything else is soaked. No more little biscuits or long life bread. Thankfully I have less than two weeks left at sea.”

Christophe’s run of bad luck started before the race began when his original yacht Five Oceans of Smiles was dismasted en route to La Rochelle. After restarting the first leg a week after the rest of the fleet, Christophe was forced to pull into the Canary Islands to make repairs and then to the Cape Verde Islands when he was struck down with an infection. He then broke his Solent stay off the coast of Brazil.

At the last position report Christophe had 2,264 nautical miles left to sail to the finish line in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ocean sprint 1:

Brad Van Liew finished November 14, 28 days, 1 hour, 51 minutes

Gutek finished November 17, 31 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes

Derek Hatfield finished November 20, 33 days, 22 hours and 37 minutes

Chris Stanmore-Major finished 36 days, 0 hours and 44 minutes


November 22nd, 2010

Chris Stanmore-Major completes first ever solo ocean race in 36 days

BRITISH skipper Chris Stanmore-Major today became the fourth skipper to complete the first ocean sprint of the epic VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world yacht race. After 36 days and 44 minutes at sea, the 33-year-old from Cowes, Isle of Wight, crossed the finish line in Cape Town, South Africa, at 4.44pm local time in beautiful weather conditions.

Chris, known by his nickname CSM, sailed 7,849 nautical miles on his 60ft ocean racing yacht Spartan at an average speed of 9.08 knots on the gruelling solo sprint from La Rochelle in France. It was a huge accomplishment for CSM, an experienced ocean yachtsman but a newcomer to singlehanded ocean racing.

“I’m pretty jubilant to be here,” said CSM, arriving at the North Wharf at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront where he was welcomed in by his fellow skippers Brad Van Liew, Zbigniew Gutkowski and Derek Hatfield. “Sailing 7,800 nautical miles on your own in the first leg of the VELUX 5 OCEANS is a pretty big challenge and it’s one I’ve now completed. There have been some challenges but we – me and Spartan – have made our way through them. I knew it was going to be a learning curve and it was.

“I made lots of mistakes but I managed to come back from them and continue on. It’s been hugely challenging but the boat’s lasted pretty well. I think she can be quicker but I’ve got to be a bit smarter. I’m just very pleased to be in.”

CSM joined the VELUX 5 OCEANS line up less than two months after completing the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in which he skippered a 68ft yacht with an 18-strong crew of amateur sailors. His first foray into solo ocean racing was a baptism of fire which began moments after the starting gun on October 17, minor breakages onboard his Eco 60 Spartan hampering his start.

After shooting up through the rankings into second place behind American race leader Brad Van Liew as he crossed the Bay of Biscay, CSM then chose to hug the coast of Portugal and paid the price when he was becalmed for several days, allowing Polish ocean racer Gutek and Canadian rival Derek Hatfield to slip past.

Then, a week after the start, the fitting holding the massive spinnaker to the front of 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 and it caused substantial damage to Spartan. Recovering the sail from the water took CSM several exhausting hours.

After passing the Equator Chris turned his attentions to hunting down third placed Derek Hatfield, and at one point was just 100 nautical miles behind. It was a close fight right until the end of the leg, with Derek arriving in Cape Town just over 48 hours ahead of CSM.

“The prospect of hot food is a nice one,” CSM added. “My gas stove stopped working a week ago so I haven’t had hot food for seven days – I’ve been warming things up on the engine! Beer is tasting good right now too so I’m looking forward to having another one, a steak, a salad and some chill-out time.”

CSM also had a few unexpected visits from nature during the ocean sprint. While crossing the Doldrums Spartan sailed through a cloud of insects which stayed with CSM for most of the following 4,000 nautical miles to Cape Town. Then, a few days before finishing the leg, a whale burst out of the water showering Spartan in a plume of spray.

Ocean sprint one, the first of five legs that make up the 30,000 nautical mile VELUX 5 OCEANS, was won on November 14 by Brad Van Liew. At the last position report at midday UTC, Belgian ocean racer Christophe Bullens had 2,833 nautical miles left to sail.

Ocean sprint 1:

Brad Van Liew finished November 14, 28 days, 1 hour, 51 minutes

Gutek finished November 17, 31 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes

Derek Hatfield finished November 20, 33 days, 22 hours and 37 minutes

Chris Stanmore-Major finished 36 days, 0 hours and 44 minutes

BMW ORACLE Racing clinches round robin at Louis Vuitton

November 22nd, 2010

DUBAI, UAE (Nov. 22, 2010) – BMW ORACLE Racing clinched the top spot in the double round robin of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai with a victory today over Emirates Team New Zealand.

Led by Australian skipper James Spithill, BMW ORACLE Racing defeated the Kiwi crew by 25 seconds. The win improved BMW ORACLE‟s record to 12-2, good for 15 points and an unassailable position atop the leaderboard.

“The mood’s great,” said runners/pit man and crew coach Dean Phipps. “We’ve worked hard for the past week and everything’s fallen into place as far as the crew goes. We’ve made some nice strides forward.”

Sailing in a light northerly wind, the pre-start action was relatively tame. Both crews are experienced and knew that keeping momentum after breaking off the dial-up was important.

BMW ORACLE tactician John Kostecki called for the right side of the start and Spithill obliged, bringing his crew onto the racecourse on starboard tack with Team New Zealand to leeward.

Both boats soon tacked to port and stretched out to the right edge of the racecourse. BMW ORACLE tacked to starboard and was able to force Team New Zealand to tack to leeward. The American yacht rounded the windward mark with a 10-second advantage.

“At one stage halfway across it looked a little marginal,” said Phipps. “But Murray (Jones, strategist) was calling the breeze to go right and it came just in time. A bit earlier would’ve been nicer, but we took it as it came and we crossed nicely ahead of them.”

The two crews traded jibes down the run and BMW ORACLE set up for a port rounding through the leeward gate. Team New Zealand followed but lost control of the spinnaker takedown. The sail fell in the water and the crew had to cut the halyard away.

“We made a nice powerful rounding for the left-hand gate and they got into what we call “no man’s land,‟” said Phipps. “When you get into that place, which side the sail comes down becomes an issue for the foredeck crew. It didn‟t look like they had a takedown string setup, and from there it just snowballs. The only way to get rid of it is to cut the halyard and let it all go.”

Riding aboard BMW ORACLE Racing today as 18th person was Christine Belanger, the Louis Vuitton representative who has helped organize the Louis Vuitton Trophy events with the World Sailing Teams Association.

“Today is a special day,” said Belanger. “It’s a great experience, one I’ve been lucky to do many times. The event here in Dubai is special because it’s the final event of the Louis Vuitton Trophy. It’s one page in the history of the trophy which comes to an end, so it’s very emotional.”

Tomorrow BMW ORACLE Racing concludes the round robin with a race against Mascalzone Latino Audi Team. The semifinals are slated to start on Friday, and the American crew will have the right to choose its opponent by winning the round robin.

Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai Standings
1. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) James Spithill – 15 points (12-2)
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker – 8.5 points (7-6)*
3. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (ITA) Gavin Brady – 8 points (6-7)*
4. All4One (FRA/GER) Sebastien Col – 6 points (5-7)
4. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Francesco Bruni – 6 points (6-7)*
6. Artemis Racing (SWE) Cameron Appleton – 5 points (5-8)
(* Points deducted for collision)

BMW ORACLE Racing keeps top spot at Louis Vuitton Trophy

November 21st, 2010

DUBAI, UAE (Nov. 21, 2010) – By splitting its two races today BMW ORACLE Racing maintained the top spot at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai.

BMW ORACLE Racing skipper James Spithill and his crew defeated the Swedish-flagged Artemis Racing, a challenger for the 34th America’s Cup, by 1 minute and 3 seconds, and lost by 45 seconds to All4One, the combined French/German team.

“It was a little disappointing to lose the first race, but give credit to All4One,” said Ian Moore, the navigator from England. “They started well and sailed impeccably well. We see a lot in these races that if you win the start it helps to go on and win the race, and that’s what they did.

“But you can’t let it get you down,” Moore continued. “You’re going to lose races in a tournament as long as this and we rallied in the second race. Jimmy got a fantastic start and John (Kostecki, tactician) did a nice job calling the race and picking the shifts. It was good to get a victory against a strong team like Artemis.”

Day 8 of the regatta that runs through next weekend got off slowly as the race committee postponed the first start for more than two hours waiting for the wind to settle. Once in, the conditions were some of the lightest of the week, 6 knots from a northerly direction.

In the first race, the key moment came about two-thirds of the way up the beat. BMW ORACLE and All4One approached each other on opposite tacks, with BMW ORACLE holding the starboard advantage. But All4One was able to tack to starboard on the leeward bow of the American yacht and gain control of the match.

“It was a split tack start and we were in phase coming off the line on port tack with a left shift,” said Moore. “Later up the beat a right shift did come in, but if it had come in 30 seconds earlier we might’ve had a different result. They got a strong lee bow and did a good job not giving us an opportunity to get past the rest of the way.”

In the second race Spithill gave his crew an early advantage off the start line, crossing the line as the starting signal sounded while Artemis was slow and a few seconds late, but to windward.

The key moment came about 2 minutes in when BMW ORACLE was able to ride port tack across the bow of Artemis and plant a covering tack. From there Spithill and crew covered to sail away to their largest win of the series.

“We could almost tack and cross them straight after the start, but we held on for a little longer,” Moore said. “Then they got up to speed and it started looking dubious. We were getting out towards the port tack layline and at some point you’ve just got to go for it. You tack, have a look and decide if you can cross. If you can, that’s it. It was a very important moment in the race and we all sort of held our breath, but in the end it was an easy cross.”

The win improved BMW ORACLE Racing’s record to 11-2, good for 13 points, and allowed the team to keep its 4.5-point cushion over second-placed Emirates Team New Zealand on the leaderboard ahead of tomorrow’s showdown race. The pair is the third scheduled match of the day and will race in BMW ORACLE Racing’s two boats.

Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai Standings
1. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) James Spithill – 13 points (11-2)
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker – 8.5 points (7-5)*
3. All4One (FRA/GER) Sebastien Col – 6 points (5-6)
4. Artemis Racing (SWE) Cameron Appleton – 5 points (5-7)
5. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (ITA) Gavin Brady – 4 points (4-7)*
5. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Francesco Bruni – 4 points (5-6)*
(* Points deducted for collision)


November 19th, 2010

What: Solo sailor Derek Hatfield and his 60ft yacht Active House are due to reach Cape Town tomorrow. Derek will be the third skipper to cross the finish line in the VELUX 5 OCEANS first leg, having left La Rochelle, France on October 17. The VELUX 5 OCEANS is a solo, round-the-world yacht race, comprising five ocean sprints. From Cape Town the race will continue to Wellington, New Zealand, from there to Salvador, Brazil, onto Charleston, USA and will finish back in La Rochelle in June 2011. It is the Ultimate Solo Challenge.

When: Derek is expected to arrive in Cape Town on Saturday November 20 between 1800 and 0000 local time (1600 to 2200 UTC).
Who: Derek Hatfield, 57, from Nova Scotia, Canada, the oldest skipper in the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet.

BMW ORACLE Racing continues winning ways at Louis Vuitton

November 19th, 2010

DUBAI, UAE (Nov. 19, 2010) – BMW ORACLE Racing today ran its record at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai to 10 wins in 11 starts with a 48-second victory over Synergy Russian Sailing Team on Day 6 of the two-week regatta, the start of Round 2.

The win allowed BMW ORACLE Racing, led by skipper James Spithill of Australia, to retain the top spot on the leaderboard with 11 points, 4.5 points ahead of second-placed Emirates Team New Zealand.

“We’re in a pretty solid position,” said mid-bowman Brad Webb of New Zealand, who has been with the team since its inception in 2000. “Jimmy’s been starting the boat brilliantly, and between JK (John Kostecki, tactician) and Murray (Jones, strategist), they’re putting the boat in the right place on the racecourse.”

By many accounts, the race was over before it started. With about 80 seconds to the start,Spithill lured Synergy into a trap, locking the Russian yacht on his windward aft quarter with no avenue for escape.

In full control, Spithill slowed the match down by sailing close to the wind. When the start gun sounded both boats were a couple of lengths behind the committee boat.

Then Synergy’s bow drifted to leeward and the port side grazed the starboard keep-off wand on the transoms of these 80-foot America’s Cup Class yachts. The on-water umpires penalized the Russian yacht for failing to keep clear.

Spithill entered the racecourse with a twoboatlength lead, and the race was all but over.BMW ORACLE led by 34, 37 and 50 seconds at the three mark roundings en route to the finish.

“It was an error on Synergy’s part,” said Webb,who mans the running backstays in the back of
the boat during the pre-start. “With a minute to go they were locked out, and it’s one of those situations where they have to sit back and wait it out. When their bow went down I think they were trying to build speed, but fortunately for us they incurred a penalty.”

“We’re pretty confident in our boathandling,” Spithill said. “The guys are doing a good job on the winch handles and trimming the sails. At the end of the day, the penalty was a bonus. I’m happy with how the guys are sailing the boat. Everyone’s getting better and learning every day. There’s a long way to go so that’s exciting.”

Tomorrow is an off day for the regatta as the sailors have been invited to participate in a local dhow race. The regatta schedule resumes Sunday with BMW ORACLE slated to race All4One and Artemis Racing.

Webb said that in this morning’s crew meeting coach Dean Phipps of New Zealand emphasized not to get too comfortable with the early success. There are still four races to sail, each worth 2 points, before the semifinals next Friday.

“I like our chances, but we can’t get too carried away,” Webb said. “We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing and stay focused on our jobs. At any minute the wheels could fall off. We’ve seen it happen to other teams and it’s appened to us. If we keep doing what we’re doing all will be fine.”

Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai Standings
1. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) James Spithill – 11 points (10-1)
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker – 6.5 points (6-5)*
3. Artemis Racing (SWE) Cameron Appleton – 5 points (5-5)
4. All4One (FRA/GER) Sebastian Col – 4 points (4-6)
4. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (ITA) Gavin Brady – 4 points (4-6)*
4. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Francesco Bruni – 4 points (4-6)
(* Points deducted for collision)

BMW ORACLE Racing wins Round 1 at Louis Vuitton Trophy

November 18th, 2010


Skipper Spithill credits coach Presti and crew for strong showing

DUBAI, UAE (Nov. 18, 2010) – BMW ORACLE Racing today wrapped up a nearly flawless performance in Round 1 of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai with two wins over Mascalzone Latino Audi Team of Italy.

Skipper James Spithill and crew won the two races on Day 5 in light winds by 41 and 45 seconds to finish the round with a 9-1 record. A 1-second loss yesterday is all that kept the 33rd America’s Cup winner from a perfect score.

“I think we sailed pretty well. We had some very, very tight racing,” said Spithill of Australia.“The big improvement has been the communication throughout the boat. John (Kostecki,tactician), Murray (Jones, strategist) and Soapy (Ian Moore, navigator) have done a nice job in the afterguard.”

The last time the team raced a Louis Vuitton event was in La Maddalena, Italy, in June. Coming a few months after February’s emotional win in the America’s Cup, which BMW ORACLE Racing won aboard the 90-foot trimaran USA, the crew wasn’t quite ready to jump back into monohulls.

“We prepared properly for this one,” said Spithill. “We’ve done a lot of work in the afterguard with our coach, Philippe Presti. And Dean Phipps has stepped up the crew work on the boat. Everyone’s been a lot more honest about where we’re at in the monohull world and the amount of work we have to do to get to this level. Everyone’s had an open mind and wants to learn and improve. We’ve just got a very, very good attitude at this event.”

Spithill’s crew has credited him with giving them a great advantage off the start line. Spithill is known as a fierce pre-start competitor, and he’s shown that killer instinct again this week. The skipper credits Presti, the coach from France, for helping him regain his focus.

“A letdown was to be expected in La Maddalena,” said Presti. “It was so soon after the America’s Cup win. I’ve worked with the team to get them to visualize the game. I try to give them options. We’ve been working to create an atmosphere of good relationships and to build everyone’s confidence.”

While communication is flowing in the back of the boat, the good vibes are flowing throughout the crew.

“Everybody’s pretty happy about the performance,” said Brian MacInnes, the port-side grinder from Canada. “Things have tightened up a lot over the past few weeks and we’re getting it done. In the past we’ve been working on other things while in different places and it’s kept our mind out of sailing. This week our mind’s in the game.”

Round 2 of the regatta is scheduled to begin tomorrow. The six crews will sail a single round robin and wins will be worth 2 points instead of 1. The top four crews after the second round advance to the semi-finals, scheduled to begin next Friday, Nov. 26.


November 17th, 2010

Polish skipper surprises in first solo ocean race 

AFTER exactly one month at sea, Polish ocean racer Zbigniew Gutkowski sailed into Cape Town this evening to claim second place in the first ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The 36-year-old, known as Gutek, crossed the finish line off the South African coast at 10.03pm local time, 31 days, six hours and three minutes after leaving La Rochelle in France.

After a frustrating few days of light winds on the approach to Cape Town, Gutek completed the leg in fresh conditions, a south easterly breeze of between 20 and 25 knots powering him across the finish with the lights of Cape Town illuminated in the background.

Gutek, a former national champion dinghy racer, impressed right from the start of the solo round the world race, leading the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet across the start line of this first stage and out into the Bay of Biscay. Despite problems with his Eco 60 yacht Operon Racing early on, Gutek kept pace with American rival Brad Van Liew, constantly challenging for first place right until the end of the 7,400-mile leg.

Setting foot on land for the first time since ocean sprint one start day on October 17, Gutek said: “I am so glad to be here. It was a really exciting race. All the time I was so close to Brad – beating him was my motivation. I found out one very important thing on this trip – I can sail solo. I had never done it before, and so before the start I didn’t know if I could do it or not. But now I am confident I can sail solo anywhere.”

Gutek’s finish comes just three days behind Brad, who won the ocean sprint on Sunday evening. The feat is all the more impressive considering Gutek is a newcomer to solo sailing and, at 19 years old, Operon Racing is the oldest boat in the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet and seven years older than Brad’s Le Pingouin. But she is by no means a slow boat – she was built by French sailing legend Alain Gautier who sailed her to victory in the 1992/3 Vendée Globe.

In the tradition of the VELUX 5 OCEANS, the 42-year-old American was on the dock to welcome in his rival and friend. Gutek was also reunited with his wife Eliza and his shore crew.

Ocean sprint one was something of a baptism of fire for Gutek. Just days into the race Gutek had to climb the mast to repair a broken halyard. Then, just over a week in, Gutek suffered deep cuts to his forehead after being hit by his wind generator. After shaving his hair off he then had to stitch up the wounds.

While chasing Brad through the South Atlantic another halyard broke and Gutek was forced to climb the mast once more, this time in strong winds and huge seas. Just moments after setting his gennaker following the repair the halyard snapped again and the sail was lost over the side of the boat. This all but ended Gutek’s chances of catching Brad.

“I do feel a little bit upset because I lost out many times because of things breaking, mainly the sails,” Gutek added. “When I lost the gennaker just before Cape Town I tried to find conditions that would suit sailing with no gennaker but I couldn’t find them. I lost three, four, maybe five days.”

Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield and British ocean racer Chris Stanmore-Major are due to arrive in Cape Town over the weekend. For the latest ETAs go to the VELUX 5 OCEANS Twitter page www.twitter.com/velux5oceans or the Facebook fan site www.facebook.com/velux5oceans.

Statistics from 12pm UTC position report:

Skipper; distance to finish (nm); distance covered in last 24 hours (nm); average speed in last 24 hours (kts)

Brad Van Liew: finished Nov 14, 28 days, 1 hour, 51 mins
Gutek: finished Nov 17, 31 days, 6 hours, 3 mins

Derek Hatfield: 693; 176; 6.3

Chris Stanmore-Major: 943.9; 118.6; 4.9
Christophe Bullens: 3,578.2; 124.2; 5.2

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