The third ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS came to the most incredibly thrilling climax on Thursday with Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski beating British rival Chris Stanmore-Major to second place by just 40 seconds. It is the closest ever finish in solo ocean racing history. After nearly four weeks at sea and more than 6,700 miles of racing through the Southern Ocean and the South Atlantic from New Zealand to Uruguay, the fight for second place came down to a nail-biting drag race to the finish line. As a flotilla of boats took to the waters off Punta del Este to witness the finale and welcome in the skippers, they were greeted by two unmistakable shapes on the horizon – Operon Racing and Spartan neck and neck, separated by less than a mile. With around a mile to the finish line, CSM had the slight advantage, but after taking a course too close to the shore he was forced to gybe twice to lay the line, allowing Gutek to capitalize.
In an amazing photo finish, Gutek emerged the victor, sneaking in front of CSM at the last moment to clinch second place by less than a minute. Gutek crossed the finish line at 4.40pm local time (1840 UTC) after 25 days, 17 hours and 10 minutes. Forty seconds later, CSM crossed. And in an exhilarating conclusion to the leg, Canadian Derek Hatfield blasted across the line just over an hour later after 25 days, 18 hours and 22 minutes. Following Brad Van Liew’s win last Tuesday afternoon, all four boats arrived in just over 48 hours of each other.
For the complete story, go to www.velux5oceans.com.