Van Liew first into Cape Town
American Brad van Liew today sailed into Cape Town to claim victory on the first leg of the Velux 5 Oceans.
Under clear blue skies and with a fresh south easterly breeze, the 42-year-old from Charleston, South Carolina, blasted across the finish line in Table Bay at 17.51 local time (15.51GMT) at 10-12 knots in a 15-knot wind.
Van Liew, who won the 50ft class in 2002 Around Alone, the predecessor to the Velux 5 Oceans, and who has twice competed in the race before, took 28 days, 1 hour and 51 minutes to get from La Rochelle in France to Cape Town, a 8,003 nautical mile passage her covered at an average speed of 11.9 knots. A small fleet of support boats sailed out to meet the seasoned American and his 60ft Eco yacht Le Pingouin welcoming him into Cape Town as the winner of the first of the Velux 5 Oceans' five legs.
It was a frustrating final day for Van Liew, who was battered by 45-knot winds just early this morning before becoming becalmed just ten nautical miles from the finish line. Finally the wind filled in and he crossed the finish line before berthing at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront to the
cheers of the watching crowds.
There were emotional scenes on the dock as Van Liew was reunited on the dockside with his wife Meaghan and two children Tate, 7, and Wyatt, 6. Stepping off Le Pingouin for the first time since leaving La Rochelle on October 17, he said: “It feels great to be in Cape Town. Four weeks door to door is pretty good, as good as I could have hoped for. I had a real incentive – Gutek pushed me pretty hard. The weather forced my hand a few times too. I wasn’t sure when I left France exactly what my motivations were for doing this race but now I know – I’m having fun.”
Despite leading the Velux 5 Oceans fleet for the majority of the leg from La Rochelle to Cape Town, it was by no means an easy victory for the American. He has been chased hard by rival ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski since day one, the 36-year-old Pole constantly challenging for the lead on Operon Racing.
Van Liew left La Rochelle feeling ill with flu and it was more than a week at sea before he started to feel better. Le Pingouin was then knocked flat just days into the leg while travelling at more than 20 knots when the yacht crash-gybed in strong winds.
However his luck came in crossing the Doldrums, which he crossed relatively quickly. After the Doldrums Brad skirted the coast of Brazil, constantly hounded by Gutek, before taking on the St Helena High. After making the left turn to Cape Town Brad was becalmed in light winds allowing the Pole to reduce his lead to just 0.2 nautical miles. But the experienced solo sailor clung on to his lead and finished strongly, putting more than 600
nautical miles on Gutek in the last few days. Operon Racing is expected to arrive in Cape Town on Wednesday.
For his win Brad is awarded the maximum score of 12 points. He also takes home the first place prize for leg one of €24,000.
1800 GMT sched:
Skipper; DTF; 24 hr miles; 24 hr aver speed
Brad Van Liew: Finished – 28 days 1 hour 41 mins
Gutek: 627.5; 255.8; 10.7
Derek Hatfield: 1203.4; 276.4; 11.5
Chris Stanmore-Major: 1408.7; 260.5; 10.9
Christophe Bullens: 3840.9; 217.1; 9