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Christophe Bullens Set To Restart Velux 5 Oceans Sprint Two

December 19th, 2010

AFTER an amazing effort by a team of volunteers on the dock in Cape Town working to fix his yacht Five Oceans of Smiles too, Belgian ocean racer Christophe Bullens is set to restart sprint two of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The 49-year-old was forced to head back to Cape Town on Friday with rudder problems, just over 24 hours after starting the 7,500 nautical mile sprint to New Zealand.

On his return yesterday to the South African port, the second of the five VELUX 5 OCEANS hostports, a team of local volunteers jumped into action to help prepare Christophe’s Eco 60 yacht for the gruelling second leg which takes the fleet through the mighty Southern Ocean. The yacht’s twin rudders were removed countless times by the tireless helpers trying to sort problems with their alignment.

One of the volunteers was Cape Town marine engineer Allan Brink who has given his time generously since Christophe arrived in Cape Town early in December. Allan and his wife own the yacht Voortrekker II which did the BOC Challenge (the forerunner to the VELUX 5 OCEANS) in 1986 as Tuna Marine with South African solo sailor John Martin. Also helping out was Glenn Drewry, a fitter, turner and tool maker, along with Cape Town harbour master Steven Bentley and his crew Chris Roux.

Christophe is due to go for a test sail this morning where he will calibrate his autopilots. Then if all is well he will head off to join the rest of the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet en route to New Zealand. Christophe will face a south easterly breeze blowing around 30 knots when he restarts. The rest of the ocean racers are currently stuck trying to fight through a high pressure system blocking their route to the prevailing westerlies they need to send them to Wellington.

CANADIAN DEREK HATFIELD LEADS VELUX 5 OCEANS FLEET IN SECOND SPRINT

December 17th, 2010

Fleet still bunched after one day’s racing

CANADIAN ocean racer Derek Hatfield has reclaimed the lead less than 24 hours into the second sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. Keen to make up for a slow start at the beginning of sprint one in La Rochelle, the veteran solo sailor was the first of the international fleet to cross the start line of the second leg in Cape Town on Active House.

It was a tough start to the Southern Ocean sprint with light airs dogging the skippers as they tried to steal any advantage they could over their rivals as the five Eco 60 yachts headed south from the start. Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski on Operon Racing looked to have the advantage as the fleet passed Robben Island but it was American ocean sprint one winner Brad Van Liew on Le Pingouin who emerged in front at the first six-hourly position report.

However it was all change again by midnight UTC: despite Brad being further south than Derek and Gutek, Active House was more to the east and leading Operon Racing by just under one nautical mile with Le Pingouin in third 2.4 nautical miles behind. British skipper Chris Stanmore-Major on Spartan and Belgian ocean racer Christophe Bullens on Five Oceans of Smiles too were both 15 nautical miles behind the leading yacht, CSM opting for a more southerly route while Christophe took a more easterly heading.

All five skippers will face patchy light winds as they punch through a high pressure system which currently blocks their paths to the stronger westerly winds that they are searching for. The Cape Town to Wellington sprint, the second of five that make up the VELUX 5 OCEANS, is around 7,500 nautical miles with the first yachts expected to arrive in New Zealand in early January.

VELUX 5 OCEANS SPRINT TWO SETS SAIL FROM CAPE TOWN

December 16th, 2010

Ocean racers to take on Southern Ocean in sprint to Wellington

THE second sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world yacht race got underway from Cape Town today bound for Wellington in New Zealand. With the iconic Table Mountain providing a stunning backdrop, the fleet of five international ocean racers crossed the start line beginning a gruelling 7,000 nautical mile sprint across the Southern Ocean through some of the worst weather conditions known to man.

The original start of ocean sprint two had been planned for Sunday but it was postponed due to gale-force winds and huge seas off the coast of South Africa. The VELUX 5 OCEANS race committee constantly monitored the weather forecasts until they felt there was a suitable window in the weather to allow for a safe race start.

The fleet set sail from Cape Town in their 60ft Eco 60 yachts in around 15 knots of breeze from the South East. Canada’s Derek Hatfield on Active House was the first to cross the line, with a strong start that will make-up for his poor start in La Rochelle. He led the five impressive ocean racing yachts out of Table Bay and into open water where the wind dropped considerably in the shadow of the mountain. Tactics will now come into play with all five skippers trying to find some breeze to take them on.

Sprint one winner, Brad Van Liew on Le Pingouin followed Derek over the line, and a smiling Christophe Bullens on Five Oceans of Smiles Too was third, with this his first start with the entire fleet obviously meaning a lot to him.  Gutek (Zbigniew Gutkowski) and Operon Racing was next and finally Chris Stanmore-Major aboard Spartan who struggled to get his main sail up and lost momentum on his way to the start line.

Prior to leaving the dock, ocean sprint one winner Brad Van Liew could not be drawn on his tactics for the next leg. The 42-year old American has twice competed in the VELUX 5 OCEANS prior to this event, winning class two in the 2002/3 edition of the race.

“I’m just going to go out there, sail my boat and try to stay safe,” said Brad, skipper of Le Pingouin. “Safety is the key to this leg. I’m very competitive by nature so I will just see what happens once I’m there. I’m not going to go out all aggressive with a bone in my teeth. I think I’ll just get stuck into it and let the cycle of the leg do its own thing.”

Canadian ocean racer Derek Hatfield, skipper of Active House, was facing up to the prospect of Christmas alone at sea. “It will be a bit emotional but I will be able to call in,” the 58-year-old father of four said. “It’s a special day at home but for me it’s just another day racing. All the days meld together so when you’re alone at sea there is no real special day. It’s just another race day.”

Howling winds, freezing temperatures and mountainous seas await the skippers as they head south from Cape Town into the notorious Roaring Forties and Screaming Fifties, named so because of the sheer force of the winds that are found in those latitudes. The Southern Ocean is the only ocean in the world that is not constricted by land allowing waves and wind to mount up as they circumnavigate the globe unimpeded.

Run by Clipper Ventures PLC, the VELUX 5 OCEANS started from La Rochelle in France in October and features five ocean sprints. After heading from La Rochelle to Cape Town, the race is now headed for Wellington in New Zealand. Following that the race takes in Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France. The 2010/11 edition of the race is the eighth its 28-year history. 

Skippers’ quotes:
 

Brad Van Liew:

“The second leg is a tough one to prepare for mentally because it is so different to leg one. This time round we have to face extreme winds and seas and cold. I’m definitely more apprehensive than I was at the start in France. This leg is about getting down south and once you’re there there’s only one way to go. It’s a bit like jumping off a high dive – you’ve just got to commit to it. It is a daunting leg to get into. I’m just going to go out there, sail my boat and try to stay safe. Safety is the key to this leg. I’m very competitive by nature so I will just see what happens once I’m there. I’m not going to go out all aggressive with a bone in my teeth. I think I’ll just get stuck into it and let the cycle of the leg do its own thing.”

Derek Hatfield:

“You never want to be too over-confident with these things because it can be the kiss of bad luck but the boat is ready and I am ready to leave. The weather is making everyone a bit nervous and going into the south you can’t underestimate the weather. I have been there twice and it’s one of those places that if I never went to again I wouldn’t feel too bad! First of all you don’t want to go there and as soon as you get there you want to get away from it. I feel a bit of nervousness but I just have to put it to one side and get on with the job and get through the start. The start is always a nervous time because you have boats romping around on the start line often in breezy conditions and also each skipper wants to be the first across the line. It’s important to get across the line cleanly and then settle things down, get into a routine, get round the Cape and then south of 40 degrees into the westerlies and then high-tail it to Wellington and be there right after the New Year.
“Leg one was a bit of a trauma for me because I struggled through the first couple of weeks before I found my stride. I found myself in third place and a little bit behind. I was able to maintain third place but I’m hoping for better positioning in the next leg. I’m not saying I’m going to be first or second necessarily but I am hoping to be nearer the front and pushing harder and be a lot more competitive.
“I don’t feel too bad about spending Christmas away from my family. I have been away for Christmas before – all these major ocean races seem to involve being away for Christmas. It will be a bit emotional but I will be able to call in. I know the kids will be with Patianne and their grandparents and having a good time. It’s a special day at home but for me it’s just another day racing. All the days meld together so when you’re alone at sea there is no real special day. It’s just another race day.”

Christophe Bullens:

“I’m a little bit nervous about ocean sprint two because of the weather conditions and also the boat is not yet 100 per cent ready so I am a little bit stressed. The good thing is I know the boat better now than I did when I left La Rochelle. In that respect the second leg should be easier for me.”

Chris Stanmore-Major:

“The big challenge of ocean sprint two is going to be the conditions, the terrain we will be going through. The Southern Ocean is mountainous; it’s part of the world where the seas can orbit without stopping. You get huge seas building up, massive winds, and waves that are taller than the top of the mast. It’s going to be very hard on the boat and very hard on me. We’re going to get the best the Southern Ocean has got to give. I face it with some trepidation but I have a lot of confidence in my boat. I think she will be good for it. I am going to take it very gently. You can’t compete for the overall results if you don’t make it to the finish line. As we came out of Spain in leg one I was second and I had Brad in my sights. If I can keep my errors down and my boat in one piece then there’s a chance I can get to the front.”
 

Zbigniew Gutkowski:

“For the next leg it’s totally different to the first leg. In comparison, the first leg was easy. The Southern Ocean is storm conditions nearly all the time. You’ve got to keep the boat in one piece. Safety comes first, and then the speed of the boat. For sure I will be looking out for Brad and the other guys and trying to make the best tactical decisions but staying safe is the top priority. It’s really easy to break something out there and if you do, you’re on your own with no help.”

VELUX 5 OCEANS SKIPPERS TO TAKE ON MIGHTY SOUTHERN OCEAN IN SECOND SPRINT

December 9th, 2010

7,000 nautical mile sprint from Cape Town to Wellington starts on Sunday

If the first ocean sprint from La Rochelle to Cape Town wasn’t hard enough, the VELUX 5 OCEANS is about to get a lot tougher. Howling winds, freezing temperatures, mountainous seas and icebergs await the five ocean racers as they leave the comfort of Cape Town and head into the bleak expanses of the Indian Ocean bound for Wellington in New Zealand.  It is here they will encounter some of the worst weather conditions known to man – and they will face them alone. More than 7,000 nautical miles, and countless obstacles, lie between the skippers and their next port of call.

Sailing through this section of the world has been the downfall of many a skipper in the 28 years of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. In the 1994 BOC Challenge French solo sailing legend Isabelle Autissier’s yacht Ecureuil Potiou Charentes II was dismasted and later severely damaged south of Australia in horrendous conditions. Autissier was rescued but her yacht was never recovered. Twelve years later British solo sailing veteran Mike Golding carried out a heroic rescue of fellow competitor Alex Thomson deep in the Southern Ocean following keel failure on Thomson’s Hugo Boss. Golding’s Ecover was then cruelly dismasted 1,000 nautical miles from Cape Town just six hours after rescuing Thomson.

One man who knows firsthand the dangers and challenges that lie ahead for the ocean racers is VELUX 5 OCEANS race director David Adams, a veteran of two editions of the race and winner of class two in 1994 event, then known as the BOC Challenge. “Ocean sprint two is probably the most physically demanding,” David explained. “It’s a very tough leg. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s wet, the sea is a nasty green colour and it is ferocious. For the whole sprint these sailors will be down in the Roaring Forties and the Screaming Fifties.

“It’s a very daunting challenge, but it is also the reason you do this race – good speeds, big surfing waves and the weather is behind you pushing you where you want to go. There are the high points and the low points but then there’s this whole other factor to content with: the ice. There are icebergs out there but nobody really knows where they are. You’ve got to be watching all the time, and that’s a real problem.”

After setting sail from Cape Town on December 12, the fleet of Eco 60s will head further south into the Southern Ocean, characterised by giant depressions capable of delivering hurricane force winds and waves the size of buildings. The constant crashing of the boat means little if any sleep for the skippers, and the violent seas ensure nothing onboard, however well stowed, is left dry.

To minimise the risk of sailing through the most dangerous iceberg-littered section of the Southern Ocean, the fleet must stay north of the Kerguelen Islands, a desolate archipelago midway between South Africa and Australia. But with the reduced danger of ice come more problems.

“It’s not so much the wind that is the problem, it’s the size of the seas,” David said. “If you happen to get to the Kerguelen Islands at the wrong time, when there’s a low pressure system, it’s really nasty. You’ve got this ocean that is up to four miles deep and then you get to the Kerguelen Islands and it goes to 100 metres. The waves just stand up like four or five storey buildings just coming right for you. You just listen to the roar of the waves as they are coming and you just have to work with them.”

After rounding the Kerguelen Islands the racers will then dip south again to pick up the strongest winds to power them to Wellington. “Sometimes it will be blowing so hard that even with no sails up whatsoever the boats will be doing 10, 12, maybe 15 knots,” David added. “Getting through ocean sprint two is a real skill – it’s all about risk management. The really skilful guys will know when to push hard and when to ease off and just get through the weather systems.”

Another safety gate below Cape Leeuwin, the most south-westerly point of Australia and the second of the Great Capes, will keep the fleet out of yet more danger from icebergs. A timed run between longitudes 50 East and 75 East will test the skippers’ speed and provide an opportunity to win bonus points.

Just when the skippers are within touching distance of Wellington and the finish line they will be faced with Cook Strait, the bank of water between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. A natural wind funnel, Cook Straight is prone to localised storms making it a formidable gauntlet for yachts to pass through.

Ocean sprint two starts from Cape Town at 2pm local time (12pm UTC) on Sunday, December 12.

VELUX 5 OCEANS SKIPPERS GO SAILING WITH LOCAL YOUNGSTERS

December 8th, 2010

 

Round the world sailors inspire South African children at sailing school

 

The VELUX 5 OCEANS skippers took a break from working on their yachts yesterday to spend an afternoon messing about in boats with underprivileged children at a Cape Town sailing school. Chris Stanmore-Major, Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski, Derek Hatfield and Brad Van Liew paid a visit to the Izivunguvungu Sailing School in Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula.

 

Izivunguvungu was set up as a social development initiative to teach sailing and maritime skills to local children from poor backgrounds. Children from as young as 11 are first taught to swim before getting basic lessons in sailing. Since it was started in 2001 the sailing school has become a huge success, producing national champions in the Optimist and 420 dinghy classes as well as top results in the Mirror and Laser classes.

 

Despite 35 knots of wind blowing, it didn’t take long for the youngsters to rig up some Bosun dinghies and drag the skippers out for a blast around the bay. While Gutek, a former Polish dinghy champion, enjoyed some close racing with some of the more experienced children, CSM ended up in the water after his young helmsman fell out of their dinghy, which promptly capsized.

 

“It was great fun,” CSM said. “These guys are absolutely fearless. I am just happy to have been able to go sailing with these guys. I used to work for Outward Bound and this kind of initiative is what I am really into. These kids are having so much fun in an environment they wouldn’t normally get to experience and it’s great to see.”

 

Jonathan Cole, the coach at Izivunguvungu, added: “It’s great that such a prestigious race could honour us by coming to visit us. The VELUX 5 OCEANS skippers are a real inspiration to the kids and it is great that they are not just heroes on television, internet or in magazines or newspapers. I’m so glad they could come to sail with the kids here and get a taste of what we do at the local sailing project here in Cape Town.”

FIVE OCEANS OF SMILES TOO FLOODS IN LATEST RUN OF BAD LUCK FOR CHRISTOPHE BULLENS

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

BRITISH SOLO SAILOR TAKES FOURTH PLACE IN VELUX 5 OCEANS LEG ONE

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

CANADIAN SOLO SAILOR SET FOR THIRD PLACE IN THE FIRST LEG OF SOLO ROUND THE WORLD RACE

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.

GUTEK TAKES SECOND PLACE IN VELUX 5 OCEANS FIRST LEG

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

GUTEK EXPECTED TO ARRIVE IN CAPE TOWN TOMORROW

November 16th, 2010

POLISH ocean racer Zbigniew Gutkowski is set to claim second place in the first leg of the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world race. The 36-year-old, known as Gutek, is expected to cross the finish line off Cape Town tomorrow (Wednesday November 14).

Gutek’s arrival comes just a few days after American Brad Van claimed the top spot in the 7,400 nautical mile race from La Rochelle to Cape Town, the first of five ocean sprints which make up the VELUX 5 OCEANS.

Gutek, a former champion dinghy racer, has impressed from the start of the race, leading the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet out of La Rochelle and into the Bay of Biscay. He and Brad then began a close fight for first place which lasted just under a month and ended with Brad emerging as the victor.

Today’s midday UTC position report put Gutek’s Eco 60 yacht Operon Racing just over 300 nautical miles from Cape Town, sailing at an average of 10.6 knots.

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