Sunday, 24 April 2011
British ocean racer buoyed by back-to-back podium finishes
Chris Stanmore-Major (GBR) breaks open the champagne on arrival in third placein Charleston. Image copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/onEdition.
by Sarah Hames
THEY say that in yacht racing it is never over until man and boat are safely across the line – and that was certainly the case for Chris Stanmore-Major today as he was struck by a violent thunder storm just 15 miles from the finish line of ocean sprint four.
After making frustratingly slow progress over the final days the finish line was finally in sight – but just as the sun was going down over Charleston, USA, the 33-year-old British ocean racer found himself battling a 45-knot squall and was forced to turn his Eco 60 yacht Spartan round and head back to sea.
By nightfall the storm passed through and Chris, known better as CSM, was able to return to his course and finish ocean sprint four at 2145 EST (0145 UTC), claiming the final podium position. He completed the leg in 25 days, 9 hours and 45 minutes, around 36 hours behind second-placed Derek Hatfield. It is the second time CSM has finished on the podium after also claiming third in ocean sprint three.
CSM said: “Off the finish line was the hardest part of the race - a 45-knot squall, thunder and lightning, and me huddled inside Spartan wondering what was going to happen next! Ocean sprint four was definitely a funny ride. It was very frustrating that I couldn’t close those 100 miles between me and Derek. I found new speed on the boat and there were times where I was really trucking but I just couldn’t catch Derek, he sailed a great race.”
Buoyed by his performance in the third leg, during which he clawed back around 500 miles to overtake race rivals Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Derek Hatfield only to be pipped to second place by Gutek in the dying moments, CSM pushed hard in ocean sprint four in what turned out to be a very closely fought battle.
At one point it looked like CSM might have to stop in Recife, Brazil, when his water supplies ran out and his onboard water-maker broke. CSM also developed severe toothache, adding to his problems. However after a little amateur dentistry and a temporary fix to the water-maker racing resumed with renewed vigour.
CSM was the second fastest skipper through the timed run between latitudes 5°S and 5°N behind Derek, picking up two bonus points in the process. Taking a more easterly course than Derek and leg leader Brad Van Liew over the Equator and into the North Atlantic, CSM found himself in much stronger winds than his competitors and was able to take a huge chunk out of their leads.
The final few hundred miles of the leg saw the fleet battle light, fluky winds, finally slowing CSM’s advance on his rivals, and Brad and Derek managed to cling on to finish first and second respectively. Since starting the sprint from Punta del Este in Uruguay on March 27 CSM sailed 6,043 at an average of 9.9 knots.
“I think this boat is quickest when we are reaching in heavy weather and hopefully that’s what we will get with this next Atlantic crossing,” CSM added. “When we crack off the breeze a bit that’s when Spartan really trucks. If this final leg is windy I will give Brad a run for his money for sure!”
Positions at 0000 UTC 22nd April 2011
Skipper / distance to finish (nm) / distance to next boat (nm) / distance covered in last 24 hours (nm) / average speed in last 24 hours (kts)
Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: Finished 19.04.11 in 23 days 4 hours and 58 minutes
Derek Hatfield, Active House: Finished 20.04.11 in 23 days 19 hours and 36 minutes
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: Finished 21.04.11 in 25 days 9 hours and 45 minutes
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 3175 / 0 / NA / NA
I feel pretty good. I wish I could have been further up the results and there were times when I had the opportunity to get closer to Derek – it was very frustrating that I couldn’t close that 100 miles between us. I found new speed on the boat and there were times where I was really trucking but I just couldn’t catch Derek, he sailed a great race.
Off the finish line was the hardest part of the race where I had a 45-knot squall and lightning, and me huddled inside Spartan wondering what was going to happen next! Ocean sprint four was definitely a funny ride.
Sprint four was tougher than I expected and it was surprisingly close. There was the constant feeling that at any moment you could pull off a move that would move you up the positions. The water maker was an issue and my dentistry skills are somewhat lacking. The boat however has been great, absolutely fantastic. We’re going faster and we need to keep getting quicker. Everyone is learning as we go round and getting more and more competitive. Hopefully we can do something better in the last leg.
I’m very happy to be here in Charleston and it’s great to be able to greet one of the other skippers in rather than be the last one in.
I think this boat is quickest when we are reaching in heavy weather and hopefully that’s what we will get with this next Atlantic crossing. When I crack off the breeze a bit that’s when Spartan really trucks. If this final leg is windy I will give Brad a run for his money!