Gutkowski takes the lead

Velux 5 Oceans boats dogged by high pressure

Wednesday December 22nd 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Polish ocean racer Zbigniew Gutkowski has stolen the lead six days into leg two of the Velux 5 Oceans. Gutkowski overtook race leader Brad Van Liew as the boats continue to punch their way southeast through a massive high pressure system in the Southern Ocean.

The weather conditions facing the fleet are uncharacteristic of the Southern Ocean. Instead of howling winds and mountainous seas, the Velux 5 Oceans skippers have been dogged by light headwinds and glassy calm seas punctuated by unpredictable squalls.

“These conditions are a bit irritating,” said Gutkowski, currently the most southerly skipper at 44° south. “The wind keeps changing its direction by up to 50 degrees and there are big gusts. I am very tired, but managed to grab a little sleep. Until yesterday I didn't sleep at all because the conditions were forcing me to be very vigilant.”

Sailing Operon Racing, Gutkowski was the fastest of all of the fleet in the last 24 hours, averaging 8.1 knots, compared to van Liew’s average on Le Pingouin of 6.1 knots. At the last position report the Pole had a lead of 25.6 nautical miles over his American rival, with Canadian Derek Hatfield and Active House third 24.4 nautical miles behind.

Positions at 0600 GMT:

Skipper / distance to finish (nm) / distance to leader (nm) / distance covered in last 24 hours (nm) / average speed in last 24 hours (kts)

Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 6159.3 / 0 / 193.8/ 8.1
Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: 6184.9 / 25.6 / 147 / 6.1
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 6219.3 / 60 / 155.6 / 6.5
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 6470.9 / 311.6 / 96.8 / 4
Christophe Bullens, Five Oceans of Smiles too: 6861.9 / 702.5/ 38 / 1.6

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