Velux 5 Oceans
Chris Stanmore-Major : "I’m now the 182nd person ever to sail solo around the world"
samedi 28 mai 2011 –
The 33-year-old, known by his nickname CSM, is the first British sailor to be added to the list of global solo circumnavigators since Steve White completed the Vendée Globe back in 2009. It is a huge achievement for the Cowes-based yachtsman who started the 30,000-mile VELUX 5 OCEANS, his first foray into solo sailing, less than two months after skippering a crewed boat around the world.
“I’m now the 182nd person ever to sail solo around the world which is pretty wild,” an emotional CSM said just moments after crossing the finish line ending a 13-day, 3,831-mile passage from Charleston, during which he sailed at an average of 11.75 knots.
“I don’t really know what to say to that. It’s going to take me a little bit of time to realise what I have achieved and what I have paid for with all the work and the sacrifice. The 182nd person ever to sail solo around the world eh… that’s good enough for me.”
A stunning performance in the last of the five ocean sprints that make up the race saw CSM finish in second position, his best result of the race and just over 12 hours behind Brad Van Liew, the outright winner and undisputed master of this edition of the race. The result means CSM finishes the race in fourth position overall, missing out on a podium place by just three points.
A newcomer to solo sailing at the start of the race in October last year, CSM improved his performance on each leg, culminating in him setting the record for the fastest 24-hour passage when he sailed 385.9 miles on day five of the final leg from Charleston, USA, to La Rochelle, France.
Things did not always go so well for the skipper of Spartan, which had preciously completed two solo circumnavigations first under the helm of Italian sailing legend Giovanni Soldini and then again skippered by legendary British yachtsman and VELUX 5 OCEANS chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. During the first leg from La Rochelle to Cape Town a fitting that pinned his foresail to the deck broke, sending the huge sail flying from the top of his mast like a gigantic kite. After hours of struggling with the heavy sail he finally managed to get the sail back onboard, only to then discover a major leak in his fuel tanks had soaked the inside of Spartan in diesel.
During ocean sprint two problems with his batteries forced him to sail close to the south coast of Australia and through the Bass Strait, adding days to his race. At the end of the leg he was forced to sail upwind into gale-force winds for more than 24 hours through the Cook Strait to reach Wellington.
Ocean sprint three saw CSM carry out a complex repair to his mainsail in the middle of the Southern Ocean before catching up more than 450 miles on his race rivals Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutskowski and Derek Hatfield. With just days to go to the finish CSM overtook Gutek and Derek, but in a cruel twist of fate was pipped to the post by Gutek by just 40 seconds in what was the closest ever finish in the history of solo ocean racing.
During the fourth leg CSM was struck down with severe tooth ache early into the leg, before problems with his onboard water-maker forced him to consider stopping in Brazil to take on water supplies. Luckily he was able to fix the watermaker, resume racing and sail Spartan into Charleston in third position.
In ocean sprint five the Brit shot out of the gate with renewed vigour, pressurising race leader Brad Van Liew throughout the leg. After slipping back to fourth after a scare in which Spartan was flooded with hundreds of gallons of water, CSM clawed back into second only to have one of his keel rams break less than 200 miles to the finish line.
A tense finish to the leg saw tenacious Pole Gutek make a final dash for the line, reducing the mileage between the pair to just 15 miles. But the Brit managed to hang on to second place, crossing the finish line at 1106 local time (0906 UTC).
“When the horn sounded to mark our finish I had to take a minute for myself, it was a huge release of emotion,” CSM said. “I have spent nine months totally focussed on racing round the world, waking up every twenty minutes, always having to do to the boat what needed to be done.
“I don’t think it has properly sunk in that I have sailed around the world. Maybe once I get the boat back to Gosport and give the keys back I will be a bit like ‘wow, I did it, I sailed round the world’, but right now I feel very happy, glad to see my shore crew, and I couldn’t have asked for better weather to arrive to. I feel pretty bloody good.”
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