Wednesday, 2 March 2011

VELUX5OCEANS: Brad Van Liew Wins Ocean Sprint 3

American veteran singlehander finishes first in 6,000-mile sprint to Punta del Este

Le Pingouin wins Ocean Sprint 3. Image copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/onEdition.

by Sarah Hames

BRAD Van Liew added yet another notch to his belt today to claim victory in the third sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The 43-year-old American crossed the finish line in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in his Eco 60 Le Pingouin at 5.16pm local time (1916 UTC) to make it three wins out of three legs so far in the 30,000-mile circumnavigation billed as The Ultimate Solo Challenge.

Unlike his other race wins, Brad was not met on the dock by his wife and children – but instead the people of Punta del Este gave a warm welcome to one of their favourite ocean racers. It is the second time Brad has sailed into in Punta del Este with the VELUX 5 OCEANS, having competed in the 1998 edition of the race, then known as the Around Alone.

Brad Van Liew celebrates winning Ocean Sprint 3 into Punta del Este. Image copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/onEdition.

Sprint three took the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet more than 6,000 nautical miles from Wellington in New Zealand to Punta del Este via Cape Horn, for sailors one of the most respected and feared landfalls in the world. It was Brad’s third solo rounding of Cape Horn, making him the only American to have raced round the famous landmark three times singlehanded.

“Three legs won and three times round Cape Horn safely – those are two very important facts for me, two massive hurdles,” Brad said as he stepped off the dock after 23 days at sea. “It’s nice to have a nice point lead now and it’s nice to be here in Punta. It’s a fantastic place here and I have missed it. It’s great to be back.”

Brad sailed 6,530 nautical miles in an impressive 23 days, 17 hours and 46 minutes at an average speed of 11.5 knots. After setting sail from Wellington on February 6, he reached Cape Horn in just 16 days. After a frightening experience at Cape Horn in 1998 during which his yacht was smashed by hurricane-force winds and seas over 20 metres high, Brad knew all too well the potential danger of the Horn.

“Cape Horn is always nerve-wracking and there’s nothing you can do about that,” he said. “The reality is when you head down south to Cape Horn there is a point where you jump off the cliff and there is nothing you can do about it – you have to deal with whatever is thrown at you. Fortunately I got pretty lucky rounding the Horn; I think we all did. We know that because we all made it. If you get unlucky, you don’t make it. It was a very special experience for me this time round. It was really exciting as much as nerve-wracking.”

Le Pingouin wins Ocean Sprint 3. Image copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/onEdition.

Brad is awarded the maximum 12 points for his leg win, cementing his lead at the top of the VELUX 5 OCEANS rankings on 43 points. Just a few hundred miles from the finish line a battle is raging between Derek Hatfield, Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major, all fighting for second place. At the 1800 UTC position report just ten miles separated the three skippers. All three are currently expected to arrive in Punta del Este on Thursday.


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

Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: Finished Tuesday March 1 2011 in 23 days, 17 hours and 46 minutes having sailed 6,530 nautical miles at an average speed of 11.5 kts
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 323.3 / 159.9 / 6.7
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 328.1 / 156.8 / 6.5
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 332.9 / 187.5 / 7.8