Tommy Boy talks

The Daily Sail talks to Around Alone's overwhelming class two leader Brad van Liew
American Brad van Liew is in the unique position of being the only person in Around Alone who has done the race before, thereby earning himself considerable gravitas and cred within in the unique family community of this race. There are no shortage of former and future competitors lurking around Tauranga Marina at the moment from Kanga Birtles to Alan Nebauer (whose boat van Liew sailed four years ago) to Josh Hall and Jean-Pierre Dick whose new Open 60 everyone here is waited with baited breath to see - for it is the first Open class offering from Farr Yacht Design and is due for launch mid-March from Cooksons. Van Liew's Groupe Finot-designed Open 50 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America (formerly Mike Garside's Magellan Alpha) was pre-race favourite for class 2 and has well and truly delivered the goods so far. On the last leg Brad came close to beating several class one Open 60s into Tauranga. "The race is going exactly as we planned it, but this race is so full of variables - everything is going almost too well," he says. But this race has a strong history of boats and skippers who thought they had it in the bag only to have had terrible disaster befall them in the later stages of the race. Van Liew is wise to this: "The strategy is not to break the boat. When you get your bit between your teeth you end up putting the hammer down a bit which I want to try and avoid. I want to take a very conservative northerly route through the ice area. I don’t have to win this leg. I don’t want to push too hard, but saying that the boat wants to go a certain speed - I won’t push it faster than that