British yachtsman Chris Stanmore-Major today sailed across the finish line of the second sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS ending an epic 39-day voyage from Cape Town, South Africa, to Wellington in New Zealand. With the sun still rising, the 33-year-old solo sailor from Cowes, Isle of Wight, crossed the finish line at 7.25am and sailed into Wellington Harbour on his Eco 60 Spartan
Dozens of people flocked to the dockside at Queens Wharf in the centre of the city to give the fourth and final VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper the welcome he deserved after being at sea for a gruelling 39 days, nine hours and 25 minutes. During ocean sprint two CSM overcame numerous challenges, not only having to battling horrendous Southern Ocean weather conditions but also contending with battery failure onboard Spartan.
Once safely tied up on the dock next to the other three Eco 60s, CSM celebrated his arrival with a glass of champagne and raised a toast to Belgian sailor Christophe Bullens who was forced to pull out of the VELUX 5 OCEANS in Cape Town due to boat breakages.
“I feel fantastic for being here,” CSM said. “The process of getting into Wellington has been so complicated and convoluted that getting here really feels special. It’s been a really tough leg with a lot of challenges but now I am here, it’s a glorious day, the sun is shining and already it’s like all the stuff that has happened in the last week didn’t occur.”
In the later stages of the sprint CSM chose to follow a route close to the coast of Australia through the Bass Strait between the mainland and Tasmania so that if his batteries – and subsequently his autopilots – failed, he could reach land without too much difficulty. Determined not to stop, CSM made a quick passage through the Tasman Sea and into the Cook Strait. But that was where his luck ran out – after several frustrating days becalmed off the northwest tip of New Zealand’s South Island CSM then had to face 45-50 knot headwinds as he tried to punch his way towards Wellington.
“The issues I had with the batteries were a real low point,” CSM added. “It was tough making the decision to head north away from the racing line and though the Bass Strait but it was what I needed to do. The other big challenge was the Cook Strait. I knew I was going to get wind but the weather forecast just kept increasing. It was pretty angry out there. The flipside of that was that the boat performed brilliantly which will ease my nerves for the next leg.”
Ocean sprint two was won by and overall race leader Brad Van Liew from the USA, with Polish skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski taking second and Canadian Derek Hatfield completing the podium in third.
CSM and his fellow racers now have less than two weeks to prepare their Eco 60s for the third ocean sprint which starts on February 6. The third leg sees the fleet head back into the Southern Ocean then around Cape Horn, the most feared of all capes, as they race to Punta del Este in Uruguay.
Brad Van Liew, Le Pingouin: finished January 16, 30 days, nine hours, 49 mins
Zbigniew Gutkowski, Operon Racing: finished January 17, 31 days 8 hours and 27 mins
Derek Hatfield, Active House: finished January 18, 32 Days 17 Hours
Chris Stanmore-Major, Spartan: finished January 25, 39 days, nine hours 25 mins