American Brad Van Liew out in front again after exciting weekend
IT was a tense weekend of nail-biting action in the VELUX 5 OCEANS as the leading boats battled it out for first place. After hunting down race leader Brad Van Liew and closing the gap between them to just 22 nautical miles going into the weekend, Polish skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski led the fleet for the first time since leaving La Rochelle three weeks ago.
With Brad to the south, Gutek was able to take a more direct route towards Cape Town, effectively cutting the corner off the route sailed by Le Pingouin. But the 36-year-old’s time at the front of the fleet was to be a brief one. After several days of frustrating light winds navigating through the St Helena High in the South Atlantic, Brad picked up the winds he had been searching for and reclaimed the top spot. In the past 24 hours the American has stretched his lead to 152 nautical miles, averaging 14.5 knots.
It was not easy for Brad to hang on to his lead – and it’s not over yet. There are still more than 1,700 nautical miles to go before the leading pair reach Cape Town and the finish line for the first ocean sprint. Early predictions forecast the pair could arrive in Cape Town this coming weekend.
“It has been constant sail changes and working non-stop to keep my slim lead on Gutek,” Brad said. “He has been hunting me down, and doing it at Mach 2 speed with precision. I was really frustrated that I had to work my way around the high pressure system and Gutek was able to cut the corner, devouring my hard fought lead. It will now be a full-on drag race with an unknown outcome.
“The reality is we have both chosen a lane. Gutek has been forced to try and come down closer to my latitude. I have a slight advantage on him… let’s say very slight. My advantage is of course being in front. I have a strategy and I’m sticking to my plan. My disadvantage is that I am being hunted. Gutek can come up with tactics to crush my plan.”
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: 1,781.1; 0; 347.1; 14.5
Gutek: 1,933.4; 152.3; 305.9; 12.7
Derek Hatfield: 2,550.1; 769; 158.1; 6.6
Chris Stanmore-Major: 2,817.8; 1,036.7; 208.4; 8.7
Christophe Bullens: 4,616.1; 2,834.9; 150.1; 6.3