Velux 5 Oceans Sprint Two - Brad Van Liew claims victory

Velux 5 Oceans Skipper Brad Van Liew onboard his yacht, Le Pingouin - Velux 5 Oceans
American skipper increases lead in The Ultimate Solo Challenge

Brad greets his children, Wyatt and Tate - Velux 5 Oceans
Ainhoa Sanchez
American solo ocean racer Brad Van Liew today made it two wins from two ocean sprints as he sailed into Wellington, New Zealand, to claim victory in second sprint of the Velux 5 Oceans solo round the world yacht race. For the 42-year-old from Charleston, South Carolina, it brought to an end a gruelling month-long slog through the Southern Ocean from Cape Town in South Africa alone on his Eco 60 yacht Le Pingouin.

During the leg, the second of five that make up the Velux 5 Oceans, Brad sailed 7,682 nautical miles in 30 days, nine hours and 49 minutes at an average speed of 10.53 knots. His win earns him the maximum 12 points and places him firmly at the top of the Velux 5 Oceans leader board after two ocean sprints.

With 40-knot winds whipping through Wellington Harbour Brad blasted across the finish line on Le Pingouin at 7.49am local time (6.49pm UTC) as the sun rose over the city. Cheers went up from the waiting crowds as, with the help of his shore crew, Brad docked alongside Queens Wharf in the heart of the city at around 10am. First in line to welcome the victorious skipper were his wife Meaghan and children Tate, 8, and Wyatt, 6.

'It hasn’t really sunk in yet,' Brad said as he stepped off Le Pingouin onto dry land for the first time in a month. 'It’s really good to be here. I’ve now done five southern ocean legs and this one was by far the hardest. The weather we experienced was different to any other I have ever seen down there. The leg started with a delay and then took a long longer than anyone expected – it’s been an unbelievable challenge. The hardest part was missing Christmas with my kids and the best part is without a doubt arriving in Wellington.'

Ocean sprint two has seen some of the closest racing in the Velux 5 Oceans so far with positions changing frequently as the fleet battled through the huge winds and mountainous seas that characterise the bleak Southern Ocean leg. After opting to sail up the east coast of New Zealand, Polish skipper Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski is due to arrive in Wellington tomorrow followed closely by Canadian ocean racer Derek Hatfield who has taken a westerly route through the Tasman Sea similar to the one taken by Brad.

'This was a really close leg,' Brad added. 'What was really neat from a competition point of view was that it was so close. For a small fleet it’s great to have such competitive racing. The four of us really have become fierce competitors. I’m happy to have a chunk of a lead because Gutek and the others are getting determined!'

Ocean sprint two positions at 18h00 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: finished January 16, 30 days, nine hours, 49 mins
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 193.7/ 0 / 179.2/ 7.5
Derek Hatfield, Active House: 407.7/ 214/ 270.1/ 11.3
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: 1300.2/ 892.5/ 189.4/ 7.9

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