Charleston skipper Brad Van Liew is 400 miles from Charleston, closing fast on the Velux 5 Oceans finish line and a fourth consecutive leg win.
He could reach port by Monday night, although Tuesday is more likely.
As of 2 p.m. Sunday, Van Liew was due east of Daytona Beach, Fla., cruising along at nearly 15 mph thanks to tail winds of more than 20 mph. At that rate, he could reach Charleston by Monday afternoon, but the ever-shifting, fickle winds off the coast could slow his progress considerably. He will likely face headwinds somewhere off the South Carolina coast.
Van Liew, the overall leader in the single-handed, around-the-world sailboat race, is nearly 200 miles ahead of Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield, his closest competitor.
After a week in which Van Liew watched Hatfield and British skipper Chris Stanmore-Major close on his position – thanks to better weather to the east – Van Liew is now both farther west and north than the rest of the Velux fleet, giving him the tactical advantage. Hatfield told Velux 5 Oceans race officials that he and Stanmore-Major are likely now fighting for second place.
Van Liew won the first three of five legs in this race and, until this leg, had won all possible bonus points for timed runs within the legs.
Barring a change in the weather, all three sailors should land in Charleston by mid-week. Polish skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski, currently second on the leaderboard, is still in Brazil, where he stopped for boat repairs and to recover from broken ribs. He plans to reach Charleston before the race re-start in mid-May.
For more information, see Monday's editions of The Post and Courier and www.postandcourier.com.