Around Alone Is In The Record Books
Milwaukee’s Tim Kent Second Overall in Class II, Californian Brad Van Liew Dominates Class II While Capturing First and Canadian Derek Hatfield Finishes Third With Gutsy Performance
Just over a day after Class 2 Around Alone 2002-03 winner Brad Van Liew arrived in Newport, his close friend and rival, the 'tenacious' Tim Kent, breezed across the finish line in Everest Horizontal at 11:50:47 local time (15:50:47 GMT). All in a second not only had Kent's life-long dream become a reality, but also he had earned 34 points and so taken second place overall in his class with his Jim Antrim designed Open 50.
This 50 year old man from the Midwest, who had one year before never even crossed an ocean, took up the challenge of Around Alone initially as an inspiration to his two daughters, to teach them that anything was possible in life. Kent's grass roots Everest Horizontal entry complimented the immaculately prepared Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America campaign, and throughout the race, Van Liew and Kent had been in daily contact, despite being rivals in the competition. In New Zealand Van Liew even donated all the rope on the boat to Kent after securing a new rope sponsor.
Kent's race was a struggle to keep pace with Van Liew, but mostly because he had a struggle to keep his boat together with virtually no budget as the wear and tear of racing around the world took its toll. Aided in each port by volunteers, and his one shore crew thanks to a personal donation from a fellow mid-westerner, Kent was just amazed that he had got round: "I can't believe it yet, but I have climbed Everest."
The high point of his circumnavigation was reaching the end of Leg 3 in second place after he had spent the best part of the race in a soot-covered boat from a leaky exhaust valve: "My daughter Whitney wrote a simple statement on the hull of the boat: 'the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude'. Having the boat covered in grime was most certainly an ordeal, but I learned how to deal with it and in the end I think I am most proud of the fact that I finished that leg without stopping."
Kent is an incredibly articulate man, and now that he has also become a solo circumnavigator, intends to go on to compete in the FICO-Lacoste racing programme for this year, ending in the Transat Jacques Vabre. "I will never again do a grass-roots campaign, and during this race I've learned from Brad and the others about running a professional campaign. Now I've completed Around Alone, I know what I'm doing, and I want to come back and do it again."
Brad Van Liew
A divinely orchestrated orange sunrise greeted Open 50 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America when Class 2 American skipper Brad Van Liew crossed the finish line in Newport at 05:53:58 local time (09:53:58 GMT). His final 24hrs of the 28,000 mile Around Alone race had been one of Van Liew's worst in his entire career, as he explained in his final log: "I have 40 knots on the nose. The waves are coming from every direction. On deck the boat is so sideways that the coach roof is in the water. I have not slept in 2 days. I feel like I am going to be sick or start hallucinating. This is not a good place to be, but there is zero possibility of sleeping right now."
But Van Liew, the only veteran of Around Alone in this edition, has now written the next page in the history books of the race, as the only American skipper to have won all the legs of the race, and by quite a margin, thereby scoring the full 50 points to take overall victory in Class 2. His Open 50 was always immaculately prepared and often found racing amidst the larger Open 60 class, notably arriving just 3 days behind Class 1 winner Bernard Stamm in the final leg. This remarkable achievement places Van Liew squarely among the best solo sailors in the world. The Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America campaign has been very professionally run from the day they announced their partnership with Tommy Hilfiger, and this has been the secret to Van Liew's success.
Strong headwinds have been impeding the progress of Open 40 Spirit of Canada across the Gulf Stream. However, with only 247 miles to go until Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield crosses the finish line at Castle Hill, he has come out of the current and is reaching in Southwesterlies again on a bee line to Newport, RI.
Hatfield's penultimate night at sea on Spirit of Canada saw some of the most atrocious sailing conditions in the whole race, as he told in his latest log: "Last night I watched as the barometer dropped like a stone to 1006 and what that has produced is some of the worst sailing conditions. The wind is against current here in the Gulf Stream and though the boat speed is 10 kts the speed over the ground is a dismal 4 kts. When these conditions come together the ride gets very uncomfortable the boat just pounds over the back of square waves which makes eating and sleeping very difficult, it's almost like being inside a washing machine. I have run out of meal replacement drinks, which makes it difficult to keep up the calories, it's a big effort right now to prepare a meal. I'm looking forward to seeing the Newport Bridge!"
5-Oceans: the new name for Around Alone 2006
A new name was needed to signal the re-launch of the race, which comprises 5 major ocean crossings. The new name was therefore a natural choice, one that clearly described the extreme challenge and global nature of the event, worked well in English and French, and generated positive value associations.
Commenting on the changes, Clipper Chairman, Sir Robin Knox Johnston said: "In May 2001, Clipper Ventures plc acquired Around Alone and thereby secured its future in the offshore ocean racing calendar. The last 8 months has given us the chance to review the future for the race and ask skippers, ports, media and sponsors what they feel we should do differently next time. Their advice has been clear; stay focussed on safety, shorten the duration of the race, reduce campaign costs for skippers, and put more resources into the event through attracting more sponsorship and media interest We feel that the changes announced today have gone along way to responding to these requests"
Commenting on the new format, David Stubley, Managing Partner of Fast Track and Chairman of the race Advisory Board said: "The key issues highlighted by the strategic review and proposed changes have been presented to the race Advisory Board and I'm delighted to say that the blueprint for 2006 has secured its full support. The 5-Oceans 2006 offers an outstanding global marketing platform for sponsors to build their business. We hope to have some good news in this regard very soon. The challenge now, is for skippers to throw their hat in the ring."
Mike Golding, as a representative of the skippers on the Advisory Board, responded: "Over the past twenty years this race has been the standard bearer for single-handed ocean racing and the changes that have been made will modernise the event and make it even more attractive to solo sailors keen for the ultimate challenge. I for one will be seriously considering entering the 5-Oceans in 2006."