May 30th, 2011

Canadian skipper secures third position overall in solo race around the world

CANADIAN ocean racer Derek Hatfield has crossed the finish line of the final sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS singlehanded round the world yacht race in second place to secure a third place overall in his second successful solo circumnavigation of the globe.

The 58-year-old sailed his 60ft yacht Active House into La Rochelle, France, and across the ocean sprint five finish line at 0907 local time (0707 UTC) in fourth place, bringing this edition of the oldest and longest solo round the world race to a close.

From Mahone Bay, NS, former mountie Derek also finished on the podium of Class II in the 2003 edition of the race (then the Around Alone).

Derek completed the 3,600-mile final sprint from Charleston in South Carolina to La Rochelle in 14 days, 12 hours and 07 minutes.

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May 28th, 2011

American ocean racer wins final leg to complete clean sweep of solo round the world race

AMERICAN solo sailor Brad Van Liew has crossed the finish line of the final sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world yacht race to secure overall victory. The 43-year-old sailed his 60ft yacht Le Pingouin into La Rochelle, France, and across the ocean sprint five finish line in first place at 2053 local time (1853UTC), making it a clean sweep of all of the legs.

Brad is a past winner of the VELUX 5 OCEANS, having won every leg in class two in the 2002/3 edition of the race. His victory this time round makes him the only person in the 29-year history of the VELUX 5 OCEANS (formerly the BOC Challenge and Around Alone) to make two clean sweeps of the race.

During ocean sprint three from Wellington in New Zealand to Punta del Este in Uruguay Brad made his third successful solo rounding of Cape Horn, the most southerly tip of South America, making him the only American ever to race solo round the famous landmark three times.

Brad completed the 3,600-mile final sprint from his hometown of Charleston in South Carolina to La Rochelle in 12 days, 23 hours and 52 minutes.

Pair just 50 miles apart in last few days of final sprint

May 25th, 2011

After 24 hours of mystery, VELUX 5 OCEANS rivals Derek Hatfield and Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski have emerged from stealth mode and have started the final dash to the finish line in La Rochelle.

The pair have been locked in a bitter duel for second place for the majority of the 30,000-mile solo round the world race since it began in La Rochelle last October. In an exciting twist both opted to enter stealth mode – which cloaks their positions from each other and the public for 24 hours – at 0000 UTC yesterday right as they entered the sprint five speed gate, each making their move for glory under the cover of invisibility.

When they appeared on the course again this morning it couldn’t have looked any different. Active House skipper Derek chose to sail fast and straight, and is now the most southerly boat on the race course. Onboard Operon Racing Gutek decided to split from Derek opting for a northerly position for the final few days of racing.

With both skippers tied on overall points, the outcome of the final sprint will decide which of the two skippers claims the second place on the podium behind outright leader Brad Van Liew. With a maximum of three bonus points on offer this leg for the quickest passage between longitudes 35° W and 20° W, the speed gate could prove the deciding factor in the overall podium positions.

“Now it’s going to be a real race to the finish,” Derek told the VELUX 5 OCEANS race team today. “We’re moving along really well. We’re all still in the speed gate and very close to one another. I think Gutek has a bit of an advantage now because of his angle to the wind but we will keep pushing hard and just see how it goes.

“I have been pushing harder on this leg but that is also tempered by the fear of breaking the boat at this last stage. We only have three days left now so I do feel I can push a little harder but you always temper that aggression with not wanting to break anything. We just have to get there now and get a good result. The dice have been cast and we just have to see how it all plays out.”

Despite notching up speeds of more than 16 knots in the past few hours Gutek is also wary of pushing his Eco 60 over the limit in the final stage of the race.

“The low pressure we had for the last few days left really big waves, monsters like in the Southern Ocean,” he said. “I haven’t been pushing so hard. I managed to escape from Derek, although our distance to the finish line is similar now. It all depends on the winds we get now.”

After ten days of racing, just 120 miles separate the entire fleet, with around 800 miles left to sail to the finish line. Brad’s ETA into La Rochelle is currently early afternoon on Friday, May 27.
Positions at 1200 UTC

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: 761.5 / 0/ 321.3 / 13.4
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 838.6 / 77.2/ 343.7 / 14.3
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 847.6 / 86.1 / 347.1 / 14.5
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 885.9 / 124.4 / 288.5 / 12


May 23rd, 2011

DEREK’S BLOG: Offshore Training with Derek Hatfield aboard Spirit of Canada



Latest Race News


Fellow ocean racers diverted help British skipper

VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Chris Stanmore-Major feared his yacht was sinking after finding the cabin flooded with hundreds of litres of water in the middle of the North Atlantic. The 33-year-old, competing in the 30,000-mile round the world yacht race known as The Ultimate Solo Challenge, discovered the potential disaster halfway into the final sprint of the event from Charleston, USA, to La Rochelle in France.

CSM had been locked in battle with fellow racers Derek Hatfield and Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski around 1,000 miles east of the Canadian province of Newfoundland when the drama unfolded. His yacht Spartan had been travelling at around 18 knots in strong winds when he returned to the cabin following a sail change to find it flooded.

“My immediate thought was that something had breached the hull,” CSM told the VELUX 5 OCEANS team. “I have literally never seen that much water inside a boat before. I informed race control that I thought I was dealing with a hull breach. I started to pump out the water then carried out a full check of the boat and found there was only one place the water was coming into the cabin, and that was by the rear bulkhead.”

It was a huge shock for the Spartan skipper, an experienced yachtsman but a newcomer to solo sailing. “When it happened it was like that feeling when you know you are going over the handlebars of your bike and everything goes out of your control,” CSM said. “It’s that kind of trapdoor feeling where you think ‘ok, this is serious’. I have enough experience of these situations to know the difference between having a bit of water inside the boat, and actually thinking I am sinking.

“As the water levels started to go down I could see better what was going on. I found there was a 3ft crack in the hull by the bulkhead. Thankfully, there was no hole in the hull – the water had flooded in from the back compartment of the boat which had been full of water to weigh the back of the boat down.”

Eventually all the water was pumped out of the cabin but the flooding had completely soaked the contents of Spartan including CSM’s computer and all his clothing. It also accidentally triggered his emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) which sent out a distress signal to rescue services.

Race control were then contacted by Falmouth Coastguard, and Derek and Gutek were diverted to CSM’s position. When it became clear CSM’s situation was not critical they returned to racing mode. Both skippers will be afforded redress by the race committee for their part in the incident.

“It is reminder that we have been out here for a long time now and I need to be very, very careful with my boat,” CSM said. “Not only is it a piece of sporting equipment, it is also my survival cell if something goes wrong. The speed gate is coming up and we’re still fully functional so we will give it the best shot we can. We’re still in the race and we will try to give the other guys hell before we get to the finish.”

Latest Skipper News

Listen to CSM’s interview about all the drama of the weekend HERE

Derek’s interview about hearing that Chris was in trouble and diverting to help LISTEN Here

Derek’s blog, things that go bump in the night… CLICK HERE

Latest Positions

The fleet is about to enter the speed gate, check out the latest positions:

Lat Long date/time speed heading distance to finish
Brad;45.3895N;36.1846W;05/23/11 12:00:00 13.1 074 1452.0
Gutek;44.0074N;37.0790W;05/23/11 12:00:00 15.5 078 1512.2
Derek;44.1101N;37.1895W;05/23/11 12:00:00 15.5 086 1516.7
Chris;44.4045N;37.4543W;05/23/11 12:00:00 14.5 063 1526.4

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