Velux 5 Oceans

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1                    Man per boat

5                    Gruelling sprints across the world's toughest oceans

8                    Skippers from three continents

30,000        Nautical miles before the finish

=                    The Ultimate Solo Challenge


Brad Van Liew (c)Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.comVelux 5 Oceans Skippers (c)onEditionChris Stanmore-Major (c)onEdition


Position Skipper After OS4 OS5 Bonus Total
1 Brad Van Liew 58 12 3 73
2 Zbigniew Gutkowski 43 9 1 53
3 Derek Hatfield 43 8 0 51
4 Chris Stanmore-Major 36 10 2 48

After racing over 30,000 miles around the globe, the Velux 5 Oceans skippers are all back in La Rochelle reflecting on the incredible journey that started here in October last year.

Having won every leg of the race for the second time in his career, Brad Van Liew enters the record books as the definitive American solo sailor.  He stamped his authority on the race from the start and has led the fleet most of the way around the world.  Only two points short of a perfect score he has made it look easy but, with his rivals pushing hard in every leg,  Brad had had to push Le Pingouin to her limits to ensure they stayed in front.  As he crossed the finish line of the final ocean sprint, Brad paid tribute to this fantastic event and the tremendous family atmosphere engendered by everyone involved.

As the first Pole to race single-handed around the world, Zbigniew Gutkowski has shown incredible skill and determination throughout the race, overcoming a catalogue of disasters and injuries, to take second place overall.  Gutek claimed third place with Operon Racing in the final ocean sprint, arriving just four hours behind Chris Stanmore-Major, ensuring he gained enough points to beat closest rival Derek Hatfield.  Tired but very happy as he stepped on to the dock, he said without hesitation he would go again.

The final podium position went to Derek Hatfield who finished fourth with Active House in the final ocean sprint.  As the only Canadian to have sailed solo around the world twice he is proud to be representing his country, as well as completing a personal journey that was halted abruptly in the 2008 Vendée Globe with a rig failure.  Reflecting on his fellow competitors, the great rivalry with Gutek and the race as a whole, he said, "They are great sailors and the competition just got better and better.  It feels great to have got third place." 

Britain's Chris Stanmore-Major saved his best result for the last ocean sprint, bringing Spartan home in second place having set the 24 hour speed record on the way to La Rochelle and also picking up bonus points in the timed run.  He finishes fourth overall, missing out on a podium place by just three points.  As a newcomer to solo sailing he has improved each leg and, like Gutek, has also had to overcome a whole host of problems that stretched his strength and resolve to the limits.  As he finished the race, Chris said he needed time to reflect on his achievement and paid tribute to all of his fellow competitors.

Summing up an exciting, competitive race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston had nothing but praise for the sailors and their Eco 60 class boats.  For more information, skipper blogs and video go to the Velux 5 Oceans website.


27 May 2011:  POSITION REPORT AT 1212 UTC

Position Skipper Distance to Finish Distance to Leader
1 Brad Van Liew 76 -
2 Chris Stanmore-Major 164 87
3 Zbigniew Gutkowski 210 133
4 Derek Hatfield 313 237

While Brad Van Liew is calmly homing in on La Rochelle to make it a clean sweep in all five ocean sprints of the Velux 5 Oceans the drama is unfolding behind him.

First one of the keel rams on Operon Racing broke, meaning Zbigniew Gutkowski has had to make a temporary repair at sea just to get him to the finish line.  No stranger to keel problems in this race, he says he is still racing just more slowly than before.

In the last 24 hours Chris Stanmore-Major has also suffered a broken keel ram and is now trying to hold off Gutek, who has a better angle of sail to the finish line.

The speed gate results have also had an impact with Brad fastest through and claiming 3 points, CSM next for 2 points and Gutek third fastest gains 1 vital point.  Derek Hatfield now needs to beat Gutek by at least one place to tie for second place overall.


26 May 2011:  POSITION REPORT AT 1212 UTC

Position Skipper Distance to Finish Distance to Leader
1 Brad Van Liew 402 -
2 Chris Stanmore-Major 481 79
3 Zbigniew Gutkowski 515 113
4 Derek Hatfield 593 191

With less than 500 miles to sail in the Velux 5 Oceans, race leader Brad Van Liew has his eye firmly on the finish line and is already thinking about some warm croissants.  He has led the charge all the way across the North Atlantic and Le Pingouin continues to make steady progress towards La Rochelle despite taking a battering from a nasty low pressure system over the last few days.

However, Chris Stanmore-Major believes that on this leg Brad is catchable and is sailing Spartan like a man possessed to ensure that he is the one to reel him in.  Despite finding his boat full of water just a few days ago and thinking his race was over, CSM has enjoyed a good, fast passage through the speed gate and is taking the race all the way to the finish line.

Locked in a points battle, both Derek Hatfield and Zbigniew Gutkowski entered Stealth Mode as they entered the speed gate.  With the points available for a fast passage being a potentially deciding factor in the overall outcome of the race, they could each make tactical decisions away from the watchful eyes of their rivals.

When their positions were revealed at the end of the 24 hour period it emerged that Derek had opted for a fast, straight course but currently his more southerly position isn't favourable.  Confused seas are also hampering his ability to push hard.  Gutek had taken a more northerly course through the gate which has placed him in a much better position to push for the finish line.

It's clear that with just days to go the final podium is far from decided and the climax to the race is going to be thrilling. 


23 May 2011:  POSITION REPORT AT 0612 UTC

Position Skipper Distance to Finish Distance to Leader
1 Brad Van Liew 1522 -
2 Derek Hatfield 1601 80
3 Zbigniew Gutkowski 1604 83
4 Chris Stanmore-Major 1606 85

The Velux 5 Oceans fleet couldn't be closer after a night of drama in the North Atlantic ocean.  Chris Stanmore-Major found Spartan full of water after completing a sail change and was certain that the race was over for them.  He said he had never seen so much water in a boat and thought the hull had been seriously breached.

While he set about pumping and baling out as much water as he could, Race Management diverted both Derek Hatfield and Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski to provide assistance and scrambled a rescue helicopter because Chris's EPIRB had gone off.

When the water was reduced to manageable levels Chris found that the water was coming from his rear ballast tanks through a cracked bulkhead.  He was then able to contact Race Management where it was established that the EPIRB had been set off accidently due to the volume of water inside the boat and the rescuers were stood down.

With crisis averted, Chris and Spartan are still very much in the race though he can no longer obtain weather forecasts due to water damage or put ballast in the rear of the boat, both of which will compromise his race.

Prior to last night's dramatic events, the fleet had remained tightly packed after a week of racing in variable conditions with Brad Van Liew leading the way.  The first few days provided some fast sailing with Chris Stanmore-Major setting the 24 hour speed record for the current Velux 5 Oceans when he sailed 385.8 miles in the 24 hours to 1800 on 16 May, averaging over 16 knots.  Then an area of high pressure just off Nova Scotia followed by three days of fog over the Grand Banks slowed the fleet down considerably.

The first points of this leg are up for grabs as the skippers approach the speed gate and, with Derek and Gutek tied in second place and Brad and CSM on their own missions, it is certain to be hotly contested.


16 May 2011:  POSITION REPORT AT 0612 UTC

Position Skipper Distance to Finish Distance to Leader
1 Brad Van Liew 3139 -
2 Chris Stanmore-Major 3146 7
3 Derek Hatfield 3190 51
4 Zbigniew Gutkowski 3199 60

The skippers were clearly fired up as they crossed the start line of the fifth and final ocean sprint of the Velux 5 Oceans within seconds of each other.  Conditions were ideal with a 12 to 15 knot breeze building to 20 knots as the clock counted down to the start of the 3,600 mile sprint to La Rochelle in France where this solo ocean race around the world started seven months ago.

Derek Hatfield claimed line honours for the first time but Chris Stanmore-Major came flying from behind to round the turning mark in first place, then it was out into open sea with the next stop France and everything to play for on the way.

If he pushes for another leg win to make it a clean sweep, Brad Van Liew risks damaging his boat and not finishing the race at all.  None of his four previous wins count until he crosses the finish line in La Rochelle and his dilemma is whether to throttle back or race hard all the way as he has done so far.  Evidence suggests that he doesn't know how to take it easy and will be aiming to add another leg win to his tally.

Zbigniew Gutkowski and Derek Hatfield will be taking part in a race within a race as they start this leg tied on points.  Whoever is in front when they reach La Rochelle will take second place overall so we could see them locking horns and match racing all the way across the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, buoyed up by two consecutive podium finishes, Chris Stanmore-Major is looking for another good result and will be charging hard to take as many points as possible from his rivals. 

The bonus points awarded for the timed run could be critical in deciding the overall outcome of the race.  The speed gate is between 35°W and 20°W and the race committee has also ruled that skippers must enter the gate south of 48°N which is a big diversion from the shortest route between Charleston and La Rochelle.

We also see the return of Stealth Mode for the final sprint, allowing the skippers to hide their position from both their rivals and the public for a period of 24 hours.  However, they can only use it once this time.

The first boat is expected in La Rochelle in around twelve days time and we can certainly expect some exciting ocean racing between now and then. 


The Route

Velux 5 Oceans 2010-11 Route (c)onEdition

With less than a month to go to the start of the Velux 5 Oceans on 17 October 2010, we examine the route the boats and their skippers will be taking in this epic yacht race around the world.  The 30,000 mile race takes place over 5 ocean 'sprints', each one an ambitious voyage in itself for the average sailor.

Ocean Sprint 1 - La Rochelle to Cape Town - 7,500 Nautical Miles - Start 17 October 2010
Skippers cross the notorious Bay of Biscay, through the Atlantic Ocean and endure the frustration of The Doldrums before arriving at Cape Town, South Africa

Ocean Sprint 2 - Cape Town to Wellington - 7,000 Nautical Miles - Start 12 December 2010
A long leg to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington - host city to Velux 5 Oceans for the first time

Ocean Sprint 3 - Wellington to Punta del Este - 5,800 Nautical Miles - Start 6 February 2011
This leg is all about the Southern Ocean and Cape Horn - skippers will have to survive freezing conditions, huge seas and howling winds before starting to head north again for Punta del Este, Uruguay

Ocean Sprint 4 - Punta del Este to Charleston - 5,700 Nautical Miles - Start 27 March 2011
Skippers encounter the unpredictable Doldrums again as they make their way up the coast of South America to Charleston, USA

Ocean Sprint 5 - Charleston to La Rochelle - 3,600 Nautical Miles - Start 14 May 2011
A race across the Atlantic to complete the circumnavigation in La Rochelle

The race will be judged using a points system - the highest points will be awarded to the first skipper to cross the finish line of each ocean sprint with bonus points available for timed runs between specified gates on each ocean sprint.  However, penalty points will be deducted for a new sail or if a major repair is required so skippers will have to find the fine balance between racing the boat hard but not too hard.  They will also be required to pass through safety gates on each leg.


Quick Links

Velux 5 Oceans 2010-11 (c)Clipper Ventures PLC

Velux 5 Oceans Website

Marine Events

Take Part in Velux 5 Oceans Virtual Regatta

Now we can all compete in the Velux 5 Oceans in the Virtual Regatta Game, with a total 10,000 of prize money up for grabs by the best virtual ocean racers.

The game allows you to race your virtual Eco 60 yacht against the Velux 5 Oceans skippers as they sail around the world solo.  You can control your yacht's heading and sail plan as well as the angle to the wind for maximum boat speed over the 30,000 mile course.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three virtual skippers on each of the Velux 5 Oceans' ocean sprints and to the top ten overall.  Prize winners will also receive a year long subscription to Predict Wind, a marine weather forecasting tool, as well as a year's membership to Sailors for the Sea.

To sign up and take part go to the Virtual Regatta website and good luck!

Free Velux 5 Oceans iPhone App

Follow 'The Ultimate Solo Challenge' live with this free application for iPhone and iPad.

Get all the latest news including race videos, onboard journals, race updates and photos and, from the race start on 17 October 2010, view the fleet positions live. 

Simply follow the link below to download the app and follow the race as it happens.

Velux5Oceans App

Clipper Ventures

The Velux 5 Oceans is organised by Clipper Ventures Plc, the international marine events company founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 1995.

They are also organisers of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the eighth edition of which takes place in 2011-12.  There are still places available to take on this challenge of a lifetime so, even if you have never sailed before, find out more today!

Lifting the lid on Solo Sailors

Tough, lonely, frustrating and demanding: long distance single-handed ocean racing is, physically, one of the most relentless challenges known to man.  It is a 24-hour a day job and skippers often get little or no rest, averaging between 30 minutes and five hours of sleep per day.  One sail alone weighs more than the skipper and sail changes occur frequently, but it is the mental strains on a skipper that can be even more punishing.

So, what is it that distinguishes solo sailors from the average human being?  What motivates them to push themselves to the edge of what is humanly possible? What makes these special people willing to risk everything?

A team of psychology experts led by Dr Neil Weston from the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth have teamed up with Velux 5 Oceans to attempt to unravel the mysteries of solo sailing.

The project aims to identify the mental toughness attributes of single-handed round the world sailors and how these attributes can be developed or trained over time with a view to identifying some preparation and training guidelines for future solo sailors.  So if you want to become the next Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, watch this space.