Van Liew first into Punta
Brad van Liew has claimed victory in leg three of the Velux 5 Oceans. The 43-year-old American crossed the finish line in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in his Eco 60 Le Pingouin at 5.16pm local time (1916 GMT) making it three wins in three legs so far in the 30,000-mile solo round the world race.
Unlike his other race wins, van Liew was not met on the dock by his wife and children – but instead the people of Punta del Este gave a warm welcome to one of their favourite ocean racers. It is the second time van Liew has sailed into in Punta del Este with the Velux 5 Oceans, having competed in the 1998 race, then known as Around Alone.
This was van Liew’s third solo rounding of Cape Horn, making him the only American to have raced round the famous landmark three times singlehanded.
“Three legs won and three times round Cape Horn safely – those are two very important facts for me, two massive hurdles,” van Liew said as he stepped ashore after 23 days at sea. “It’s nice to have a nice point lead now and it’s nice to be here in Punta. It’s a fantastic place here and I have missed it. It’s great to be back.”
On this leg van Liew sailed 6,530 nautical miles in 23 days, 17 hours and 46 minutes at an average speed of 11.5 knots. After setting sail from Wellington on 6 February, he reached Cape Horn in 16 days. After being battered by hurricane-force winds there in 1998, van Liew knew all too well the potential danger of the Horn.
“Cape Horn is always nerve-wracking and there’s nothing you can do about that,” he said. “The reality is when you head down south to Cape Horn there is a point where you jump off the cliff and there is nothing you can do about it – you have to deal with whatever is thrown at you. Fortunately I got pretty lucky rounding the Horn; I think we all did. We know that because we all made it. If you get unlucky, you don’t make it. It was a very special experience for me this time round. It was really exciting as much as nerve-wracking.”
Van Liew is awarded the maximum 12 points for his leg win, cementing his lead at the top of the Velux 5 Oceans leaderboard on 43 points.
Just a few hundred miles from the finish line the battle continues between Derek Hatfield, Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major, for second place. At the 1800 UTC position report just ten miles separated the three skippers. All three are expected to arrive in Punta del Este on Thursday.
Positions at 1800 GMT:
Skipper / distance to finish (nm) / distance covered in last 24 hours (nm) / average speed in last 24 hours (kts)
Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: Finished Tuesday March 1 2011 in 23 days, 17 hours and 46 minutes having sailed 6,530 nautical miles at an average speed of 11.5 kts
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 323.3 / 159.9 / 6.7
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 328.1 / 156.8 / 6.5
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 332.9 / 187.5 / 7.8