Battening down hatches

Velux 5 Oceans boats brace themselves for Southern Ocean gale

Monday January 3rd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The Velux 5 Oceans fleet is bracing itself for a classic Southern Ocean battering as a huge storm speeds towards them. bringing with it 40 knot winds and giant swell when the low pressure system sweeps through.

Despite enjoying a 200 nautical mile lead on his nearest rivals Zbigniew Gutkowski and Derek Hatfield, it’s been an apprehensive couple of days for leg two leader Brad van Liew as he prepares his Eco 60 Le Pingouin for the rough conditions.

“I’m a little anxious, I want to make sure I take care of the boat,” the American skipper said this morning. “The thing that is a little nerve-wracking is that there are two low pressure systems which are merging. Merging lows can be a lot deeper and intense than what is forecast by the weather models. If it doesn’t bring too much unexpected weather we could get some good fast sailing from it. If it ends up bringing a lot more wind than forecast it could be a lot more dangerous.”

After 20 days at sea van Liew and his fellow ocean racers have covered around 5,000 nautical miles but still have more than 2,500 left to sail to the finish line in Wellington, New Zealand. Van Liew has carried out a thorough check of his boat to ensure  Le Pingouin lasts the distance.

"I have spent time going through the boat from front to back,” said van Liew this morning. “I’ve gone back into the steering compartment and checked everything is tight. When the sun comes up there are a few more things I want to do. I’ll have the storm jib ready and I will put it up early. It’s obviously a big system and one that’s heading in our direction.”

Positions at 1800 GMT:

Skipper / DTF/ DTL / Distance 24 hours (nm) / Average speed last 24 hours (kts)

1. Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: 2944.4/ 0 / 214.9 / 9
2. Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 3137.8/ 193.1 / 222.3/ 9.3
3. Derek Hatfield, Active House: 3148.4/ 203.8 / 229/ 9.5
4. Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 3820.8/ 876.1/ 200.3 / 8.3

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