Skip to main content

Stanmore-Major Addresses Velux 5 Oceans Finish

The third leg of the Velux 5 Oceans race boasts the closest finish in solo racing history, with only 40 seconds separating the second and third place finishers. Zbigniew Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major had been within eyesight of each other for much of the 3,500 nautical mile

The third leg of the Velux 5 Oceans race boasts the closest finish in solo racing history, with only 40 seconds separating the second and third place finishers. Zbigniew Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major had been within eyesight of each other for much of the 3,500 nautical mile leg, but it was within the last 20 nautical miles that the race became tight.

Stanmore-Major took the time to address the finish in a blog post on the Velux 5 Oceans website. He writes:

With approximately 20Nm to go the breeze finally veered and we could lay Punta with cracked sheets on a fine reach. I put my hand on Spartan's cabin top and whispered to her - 'it’s now or never girl'. I saw Gutek ease his mainsail and come down a few degrees and I tapped the autopilot down 5 and released the main a foot, the speedo picked up a few tenths but nothing worth writing home about. I then stepped forward to the Solent winch and cracked it off - the rig bounced and shook the hull as the sheet pressure of going upwind all morning was finally released. As soon as the sail's tell tales rotated down into the correct horizontal attitude, I could feel the hull lift and surge forward and I knew I could catch Operon. For 3500Nm of blue white Southern Ocean I have been listening and learning to sit Spartan in this exact groove- it is the setting that reels in the boats in this fleet like fish on a line. Now two hours out from the finish Gutek had placed himself in my sights and I was squeezing the trigger. 13, 13.5kts, 13.9, 14.0kts and now I can read the writing on Gutek's sails and now I can see what he is wearing.

The feeling of the deck trembling beneath my feet, the sun beating down on me and the sight of such a fantastic competitor getting closer and closer unable to respond was an inspiring moment in my sailing career- one I will treasure. But Gutek was having none of it and I could see him dashing around his deck preparing something-then just as my bow began to overlap his stern he unfurled his gennaker and Operon pulled away. I dropped a few more degrees to increase my speed and stay with him and dragged the Code 5 headsail from the side deck forward and threw it aloft faster than I have ever managed before. I sprinted to the cockpit and hauled on the sheet deploying the sail in a cloud of white dacron. I winched in like a man possessed and only five minutes after Operon began to move forward Spartan was back in pursuit and closing. We were only 10Nm from the coast now and I could see the clouds hanging over the land, in fifteen minutes I could see the land and crucially the lighthouse that marked the finish. Had I not been so tired from 40hrs close racing, had I perhaps had more to drink that blistering morning I might have taken what?- two minutes to go below and triple check the lay out of the finish. If I had I would perhaps have been 2nd rather than 3rd in the closest finish of solo sailing history- had I altered my course by only a few degrees at that point I would have easily laid the finish.

Instead I kept my eyes glued on Gutek. As a previous 470 and 49er champion I am happy to concede that in a close quarters situation he can out probably out maneuver me and I kept focused on keeping my boat between him and the line. And right there not that I knew it I lost the race.

For the full report, click here.

Related

00-LEAD-JB13-RT1169

What's it Like to Sail a Legend?

At 110 years old, the storied pilot cutter Jolie Brise powers off the wind.  In 1851, the New York pilot schooner America sailed to England, beat the Brits at their own prestigious yacht race (which came to be known as the America’s Cup), and launched an evolution of the East ...read more

Alexforbes Archangel1-1 (14)

Cape2Rio Draws to a Close

With just four boats still on their way, it has been a long road to Rio for the fleet competing in this year’s Cape2Rio. Larry Folsom’s American-flagged Balance 526 Nohri took line honors and a win in the MORCA fleet, finishing with a corrected time of 18 days, 20 hours, and 42 ...read more

_01-Steve-and-Irene-1

Close Encounters: A Star to Steer By

I first met Steve and Irene Macek in the proper way—in an anchorage full of bluewater cruising boats. This was in St. Georges, Bermuda, in the spring of 2019. Theirs, without doubt, was the most distinctive boat there—an immaculate, three-masted, double-ended Marco Polo schooner ...read more

14_01_230123_TOR_JOF_0414-2048x

The Ocean Race Leg 2 Kicks Off

After a trial by fire start to the race and only a brief stop for limited fixes, the five IMOCA 60 crews in The Ocean Race set off for Cape Town, South Africa, early on January 25. Despite arriving somewhat battered in Cabo Verde, an African island nation west of Senegal, the ...read more

Lead

Cruising: Smitten with a Wooden Boat

I was sailing down the inner channel of Marina del Rey under a beautiful red sunset when Nills, one of the crew members on my boat, pointed out an unusual and unique-looking 40-foot gaff-rigged wooden cutter tied to the end of a dock. Its classic appearance was a stark contrast ...read more

Screen-Shot-2023-01-23-at-12.03.19-PM

Racing Recap: Leg One of The Ocean Race

New to spectating The Ocean Race? Managing Editor Lydia Mullan breaks down everything you need to know to get started. ...read more

image00001

From the Editor: Keeping the Hands in Hands-On

SAIL Editor-in-Chief Wendy Mitman Clarke enjoys a sunny autumn cruise in her Peterson 34 on the Chesapeake Bay. It was late afternoon just after the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis when I climbed aboard the last boat on the schedule. I and others who review and sail boats for ...read more

P1580711

B&G Announces New Zeus S Chartplotter

B&G has long been putting out top-of-the-line electronics, but the new Zeus S Chartplotter is a new take on the best way to give sailors the exact information they need, when they need it. “So many more people sail shorthanded these days, whether as a couple or when they’re ...read more