U.S. Solo Sailing Update

This past week saw not one, but two U.S. sailors competing in a pair of offshore, singlehanded classics. Making his way toward Cape Town, South Africa, veteran circumnavigator Brad Van Liew is currently leading the pack in the Velux 5 Oceans Race. Meanwhile, Etienne Giroire is fighting his way from Brittany, France, to Guadeloupe aboard the 40-foot trimaran ATNinc.com as part of the 2010 Route du Rhum.

In the Velux 5 Oceans Race, Van Liew, sailing the Eco 60 Le Pingouin, has been dueling Polish sailor Zbegniew “Gutek” Gutowski aboard Operon Racing every step of the way since leaving La Rochelle, France. At one point this past week, the two boats were within about 20 miles each another in the South Atlantic.

By Tuesday, Van Liew had stretched out his lead again to around 130 miles, with just over 1,400 miles to go to the finish in Cape Town. From there, the fleet will re-start on December 12 for the race’s second leg, which finishes in Wellington, New Zealand.

“It has been constant sail changes and working non-stop to keep my slim lead on Gutek. He has been hunting me down, and doing it at Mach 2 speed with precision,” Van Liew reported. “Thankfully, I’m averaging 14-15 knots, and it looks like the weather pattern is pretty good for the foreseeable future. I was really frustrated that I had to work my way around a high pressure system, and Gutek was able to cut the corner, devouring my hard-fought lead. It will now be a full-on drag race with an unknown outcome.”

In all, the Velux 5 Oceans race is comprised of five legs, or “sprints,” including a start and finish in Charleston, South Carolina, in May.

For real-time position reports on Van Liew, Gutek and the rest of the Velux 5 Oceans fleet, click here.

Meanwhile, in the quadrennial Route du Rhum, one of the most celebrated solo races in sailing-crazed France, Girorie is in sixth place in the 11-boat “Rhum” division, with around 2,000 miles to go to the finish in Pointe-a-Pitre. Leading the division, from which two competitors have already had to withdraw, is Andrea Mura, aboard Vento Di Sardegna. Only 170 miles separate the first six boats.

French sailing star Franck Cammas took line honors aboard the maxi trimaran Goupama 3, the same boat aboard which he recently set a new nonstop round-the-world record, finishing in 9 days, 3 hours and 14 minutes

For real-time position reports on the 3,543-mile event, which began October 31, click here.

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