Velux 5 Oceans—Gutek reclaims second as battle with Hatfield heightens

Skipper Gutek (Zbigniew Gutkowski) onboard his yacht Operon Racing
Velux 5 Oceans update.

Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Operon Racing have reclaimed second place after it was snatched from him by race rival Derek Hatfield in the third sprint of the Velux 5 Oceans.


Just five days into the sprint from Wellington, New Zealand, to Punta Del Este in Uruguay, the fleet has changed positions regularly as they battle it out for the top spot.

They may be friends on the dock but on the water the skippers are cut-throat in their drive to get an advantage over one another. After hitting a submerged tree earlier in the week Gutek lost miles on the fleet but over the past few days gradually been clawing them back until he was up in second place.

Then, in the six hours between 1800 UTC and 0000 UTC yesterday, Derek’s Active House snuck past, just two miles separating the dueling pair. By 0600 this morning the gap had expanded to six nautical miles but with Operon Racing hitting the quicker speeds than his race rival – an average of 7.9 knots in the last 24 hours and 12.5 knots in the sixty minutes before the 1200 UTC polling – Gutek has reclaimed the second spot with a twenty mile lead on Derek.

It is not the first time the pair have locked horns on the water. During ocean sprint two from Cape Town to Wellington, Gutek and Derek traded places countless times during their month at sea which ended with Gutek beating Derek into port by less than thirty-six hours.

Race leader Brad Van Liew is ahead of Gutek by sixty-seven miles as the fleet head deeper into the Southern Ocean en route to Cape Horn. They are almost at the latitude fifty degrees south, parallel with the first of leg three’s safety gates, which lies between longitudes one-hundred fifty degrees west and one-hundred forty degrees west. The skippers must pass north of the gate to avoid the danger of icebergs further south.

Positions at 1200 UTC:

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

Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: 4,720.9 / 0 / 215.9 / 9
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 4,787.7 / 66.8 / 190 / 7.9
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 4,806.7 / 85.8 / 172.4 / 7.2
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 4,905.4 / 184.5 / 165 / 6.9

Velux 5 Oceans www.velux5oceans.com