And They’re Off! Final Leg of Velux Kicks Off from Charleston

The four Velux 5 Oceans solo skippers showed just how fired up they are for the climax of the round the world race, all crossing the ocean sprint five start line within seconds of each other. It was more like a scene from a dinghy regatta as the four 60 ft. Eco 60s jostled for position in the starting area, set around two miles past the entrance to Charleston Harbor.

Conditions were perfect for the fifth and final start of the 30,000-mile race with a 12 to 15 knot breeze building to around 20 knots as the big moment approached. With just minutes until the start Brad Van Liew, Derek Hatfield, Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski and Chris Stanmore-Major turned their bows towards the line, powered up their boats and began the first charge of the 3,600-mile sprint to La Rochelle in France where they started the race more than eight months ago.

Canadian Derek Hatfield claimed line honors aboard Active House for the first time in the race. Meters apart and just seconds behind were Gutek’s Operon Racing, Brad on Le Pingouin and Chris on Spartan.

But it all changed by the time the boats reached the first mark, around a mile from the starting line. Chris put on a display of Spartan‘s capabilities, finding extra speed and flying past his race rivals to reach the turning mark in first place. From that moment on it was out into open sea for the skippers–next stop, France.

The race has remained close, but with Le Pingouin holding a slight lead. Will Brad be able to pull off a clean sweep of first boat to finish each leg?

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