Byline: Log News Service
LA ROCHELLE, France (AP) — American skipper Brad Van Liew won the Velux 5 Oceans solo round-the-world race May 27, completing a sweep of all five legs.
Van Liew, of Charleston, S.C., sailed his 60-foot yacht Le Pingouin across the finish line off La Rochelle late Friday. He completed the final sprint of 3,600 nautical miles from Charleston to La Rochelle in 12 days, 23 hours and 52 minutes.
The 43-year-old also won Class 2 in this race in 2002, when it was called the Around Alone Race, and was third in 1999.
He is the only person in the race’s 29-year history to make two clean sweeps.
“It feels amazing to have won this race, and even better that it’s my second one,” Van Liew told race organizers shortly after the finish. “To sweep it twice is kind of unheard of, so I’m pretty happy. I’ve met every objective I set myself, and then some. No other American has ever done what I have just done, and that hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s a big deal.”
Van Liew cited the influence of his mentor, Mike Plant, an American solo ocean racer who was lost at sea en route to the start of the 1992-93 race.
“Until now, he was the definitive American solo sailor,” Van Liew said. “It’s going to be a big deal to me.
“When it comes to U.S. sailing, at this point in time, I am kind of a group of one,” Van Liew said. “This win won’t mean a whole lot to a whole lot of people, but it means one hell of a lot to me, and a few others. It is something that I have done and can take to the grave, that no one can deny me. That’s why people climb mountains, sail solo around the world or even go to the moon. It’s one of those kinds of moments.”
Van Liew’s family met him in each of the previous ports. His wife, Meaghan, met him shortly after he crossed the finish line, and his two children were waiting on the dock.
“One of my main reasons for doing this event was to experience the world with my kids, and we did that and they had a great time,” Van Liew said. “I have memories with my children in different ports around the world that are different than if we just took a family trip. These are fully charged, fully loaded experiences. It’s just been a really fantastic event.
“You’ve got to live life large — and for me, this event is who I am,” Van Liew said. “This is the third time I have finished it, and I have spent almost 20 years working on this event. It’s awesome.”
During the third leg, from Wellington, New Zealand, to Punta del Este, Uruguay, Van Liew became the only American ever to race solo around treacherous Cape Horn three times. — Bernie Wilson