Racing

Christophe Bullens Retires from VELUX 5 OCEANS

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Belgian sailor Christophe Bullens has withdrawn from the 28th VELUX 5 OCEANS after a broken mast track thwarted his latest attempt to set sail from Cape Town, South Africa.

The setback was the latest in a long list of technical difficulties for the 49-year-old solo sailor. His troubles began before the race’s start, when his first Eco 60, Five Oceans of Smiles, was dismasted en route to La Rochelle, France. Four days before the race, Bullens bought the yacht Artech from Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty and sailed a 48-hour qualification passage.

He started the race on October 24, but suffered a host of problems in the following weeks, including a split mainsail, failed electronics, an onboard flood and a collision with a whale. The broken mast track came after two prior attempts to leave Cape Town for Wellington, New Zealand.

“All the problems encountered have finally beaten me and my boat, and have prevented me from continuing,” Bullens said, “Unfortunately I have no other choice than to withdraw from the race. It is not reasonable, and even dangerous, to go on.”

Race director Dave Adams praised Bullens’ tenacity, calling him a role model for the sport. “It is sad to see Christophe withdraw from racing but his decision is a sensible and reasoned one given the conditions he will face in the Southern Ocean and beyond.,” Adams said, “We wish Christophe the best of luck for the future and hope to see him on the start line of the Velux 5 OCEANS in 2014. “

The VELUX 5 OCEANS is a grueling solo race in which competitors cover 30,000 nautical miles in five ocean sprints. Four competitors—Derek Hatfield, Brad Van Liew, Zbigniew Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major—remain in the race.

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