Velux 5 Oceans - Less than one week to go

VELUX 5 OCEANS - Derek Hatfield
Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com
Velux 5 Oceans third leg to Punta del Este starts on Sunday, February 6.

There is less than one week to go until the start of sprint three of the Velux 5 Oceans round the world yacht race. The countdown has begun to the 7,000 nautical mile leg from Wellington, New Zealand, to Punta del Este in Uruguay. In six days the fleet of international ocean racers will blast out of Wellington Harbour on the next stage of their solo adventure around the planet.

Since they finished the gruelling second sprint from Cape Town to Wellington around two weeks, the Velux 5 Oceans skippers have hard at work preparing their Eco 60 ocean racing yachts for their next challenge. Ocean sprint three will see the fleet once again take on the mighty Southern Ocean before rounding Cape Horn, the southerly tip of South America and one of the most notorious bodies of water in the world.

Active House skipper Derek Hatfield said: 'When I arrived in Wellington the boat was actually in quite good shape. However we are halfway round the world now so the boat is starting to feel the wear and tear. It’s all under control though, we’re feeling pretty good.'

Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski, skipper of Operon Racing, added: 'Almost everything on our list of repairs has been done. There are still a few little things left. The sails have come back from the sailmaker and I’m just waiting for an engineer from Raymarine to check my new autopilots and navigation gear. Apart from that Operon Racing is in good shape.'

After the starting gun fires at 2.30pm on Sunday, February 6, the Velux 5 Oceans fleet will dip south into the icy latitudes of the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties, passing Nemo Point, the most remote place on the planet. Their biggest challenge will be Cape Horn, where shallow waters, fierce winds and strong currents combine to create huge and dangerous waves which can end a skipper’s race in an instant.

One who knows that better than most is Derek Hatfield, whose yacht was flipped upside down and dismasted rounding Cape Horn in the 2002/3 edition of the Velux 5 Oceans. 'For me the next leg is the pinnacle of this race,' Derek said. 'Cape Horn can be treacherous and I’m hoping for a good safe passage. Until that happens I won’t be able to breathe easy! Once Cape Horn is under my belt I’ll be a lot happier.'

Ocean sprint three starts from Wellington Harbour at 2.30pm on Sunday, February 6.

Velux 5 Oceans website

AMERICAN solo ocean racer Brad Van Liew - Velux 5 Oceans
Ainhoa Sanchez/w-w-i.com