Brad Van Liew made it three out of three yesterday in the VELUX 5 OCEANS when he claimed victory in 6,000 mile sprint from Wellington, New Zealand to Punta del Este, Uruguay.
The 43-year-old American crossed the finish line in his Eco 60 Le Pingouin
at 17.16 local time and was given a warm welcome from the people of Punta del Este.
It is the second time Van Liew has sailed into Punta del Este with the VELUX 5 OCEANS having competed in the 1998 edition of the race, then known as Around Alone.
Sprint three took the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet more than 6,000 nautical miles from Wellington in New Zealand to Punta del Este via Cape Horn, for sailors one of the most respected and feared landfalls in the world. It was Van Liew's third solo rounding of Cape Horn, making him the only American to have raced round the famous landmark three times singlehanded.
"Three legs won and three times round Cape Horn safely - those are two very important facts for me, two massive hurdles,"
Van Liew said after 23 days at sea. "It's nice to have a nice point lead now and it's nice to be here in Punta. It's a fantastic place here and I have missed it. It's great to be back."
Brad sailed 6,530 nautical miles in 23 days, 17 hours and 46 minutes at an average speed of 11.5 knots. After setting sail from Wellington on 6 February, he reached Cape Horn in just 16 days.
After a frightening experience at Cape Horn in 1998 during which his yacht was smashed by hurricane-force winds and seas over 20 metres high, Brad knew all too well the potential danger of the Horn, "Cape Horn is always nerve-wracking and there's nothing you can do about that
"The reality is when you head down south to Cape Horn there is a point where you jump off the cliff and there is nothing you can do about it - you have to deal with whatever is thrown at you.
"Fortunately I got pretty lucky rounding the Horn; I think we all did. We know that because we all made it. If you get unlucky, you don't make it. It was a very special experience for me this time round. It was really exciting as much as nerve-wracking."
Brad is awarded the maximum 12 points for his leg win, cementing his lead at the top of the VELUX 5 OCEANS rankings on 43 points.
Just a few hundred miles from the finish line a battle is raging between Derek Hatfield, Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major, all fighting for second place. At 18:00 UTC yesterday just ten miles separated the three skippers. All three are currently expected to arrive in Punta del Este on Thursday.