Velux 5 Oceans - Gutek closing on sprint four finish

Gutek’s broken bowsprit on Operon Racing - Velux 5 Oceans
Zbigniew / Velux 5 Ocean
Velux 5 Oceans skipper Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski was just 514 nautical miles from the sprint four finish line in Charleston, USA, at the 1800 UTC position report and back in good winds after a frustrating few days of slow sailing up the coast of North America.

His good progress has come despite yet more damage to Operon Racing – this time the Eco 60’s bowsprit has parted completely from the bow of the boat. It has not hindered Gutek too much however due to the angle of his course towards Charleston not requiring a spinnaker.

'Yesterday morning I noticed a crack in my bowsprit, but it all looked very stable so I continued my journey. Due to a change of wind direction I had to take down the gennaker and hoist up the Solent. Next I started to hear a weird sound. My first thought was that I had caught some fishing nets on my keel but it turned out to be my bowsprit.

'It is broken now just after the pulpit. It fell down to the water but was held on bobstay so I pulled it in and it is now safely stored. The good thing is that it broke now not in the next leg.'

After setting sail with the rest of the Velux 5 Oceans fleet from Punta del Este on March 27, Gutek was forced to stop in Fortaleza, Brazil, after a number of breakages onboard Operon Racing as well as suffering from broken ribs. He was just eight miles across the Equator when he was forced to turn back to Fortaleza. He spent 11 days in port during which he carried out repairs to Operon Racing and allowed his broken ribs to heal.

Gutek was today making around 11 knots towards Charleston and is expected to join the Velux 5 Oceans fleet by Thursday if he continues at his current speed.

Positions at 1800 UTC

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

Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: Finished 19.04.11 in 23 days 4 hours and 58 minutes
Derek Hatfield, Active House: Finished 20.04.11 in 23 days 19 hours and 36 minutes
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: Finished 21.04.11 in 25 days 9 hours and 45 minutes
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: 514.1/0 /254.5 /10.6

Velux 5 Oceans website