It was Polish ocean racer Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski who took an early lead over his race rivals as the fourth ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS got underway from Punta del Este on Sunday. The 36-year-old former Polish national dinghy champion snuck across the start line in Operon Racing five seconds in front of fellow competitor and overall race leader Brad Van Liew on Le Pingouin.
In one of the closest starts of the round the world race so far, all four boats blasted across the line in Punta del Este bay within a few minutes of each other. Gutek laid down his intentions for the race ahead rounding the first mark ahead of the fleet but close behind were Le Pingouin, Derek Hatfield’s Active House and Chris Stanmore-Major’s Spartan.
With the sun beating down and a south-southeasterly breeze of around 10 knots, conditions were near perfect for the start of the fourth of five ocean sprints which will take the solo sailors 5,700 nautical miles to Charleston on the east coast of the U.S. Hundreds of people lined the breakwater in Marina Punta del Este to wish farewell to the skippers following a successful stopover in the Uruguayan resort, the fourth time Punta del Este has hosted the race.
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