Saturday, 15 January 2011

VELUX5OCEANS: Food Supplies Running Low for Derek Hatfield Days Before He is Due into Wellington

Active House skipper forced to ration food and water in final days of ocean sprint two

Derek Hatfield aboard Active House. Image copyright onEdition.

by Sarah Hames

HE’S just spent several days slamming into waves and battling headwinds but now VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Derek Hatfield has another problem to contend with – his food supplies are running out. With 600 nautical miles – or around three days sailing – to go to reach the ocean sprint two finish line in Wellington, the 58-year-old Canadian has only enough food onboard Active House for four more meals. After accidentally discharging his main water tanks just a week out of Cape Town and with a broken water maker on Active House, his water supply is also worryingly low.

In order to maintain the energy needed to meet the physical demands of singlehanded Eco 60 sailing, the VELUX 5 OCEANS skippers will often get through two or three freeze-dried food pouches each day. Uncharacteristic Southern Ocean weather systems after leaving Cape Town have extended the predicted duration of the leg by over a week. Now, after 30 days at sea, Derek now faces the possibility of several days’ sailing with very little to eat or drink.

“I was anticipating this leg to take about 26 days and now it’s going to be over 30,” Derek explained. “My water and food situation is getting critical. I have four meals left and only about five or six bottles of water. I am going to have to ration my food and water from here on in. It is time to get in and get off the boat for sure.”

Like race leader Brad Van Liew, Derek opted to take the more conventional route into Wellington up the east coast of New Zealand while Polish ocean racer Gutek split east in a risky bid to escape an area of high pressure sitting off the south east of South Island. Around 600 nautical miles behind Brad’s Le Pingouin, Derek was forced to skirt the anticyclone by punching into headwinds and big waves in the Tasman Sea.

“I decided I was going to go over the top of the high pressure system, so I split with Gutek and went up over the top,” said Derek, today in third position. “It turned out to be a lot harder than I had expected. It was all upwind, the seas were very difficult, the boat was slamming around. I actually had to slow the boat down because I was afraid it was going to pull the rig from the boat. Today I have about 20 knots from the north and the seas are relatively calm - there’s no banging which is good. The boat has taken a brutal beating in the last few days, I can’t believe it is still in one piece.”

At the 0600 UTC position report Brad Van Liew was 240 nautical miles from the finish line but his boat speed had slipped to 4,8 knots. Gutek was 481 miles out travelling at 12.2 knots.

Ocean sprint two positions at 06h00 UTC, 14th January 2011:

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

Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: 239.8/ 0 / 218.5/ 9.1
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 481.3/ 241.6 / 328.7/ 13.7
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 811.1/ 571.4/ 224.4/ 9.4
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 1628.2/ 1388.4/ 171.3/ 7.1