Charleston's around-the-world solo sailor, who won this year's Velux 5 Oceans race, will have to make other arrangements to compete again -- his boat is being repossessed.
Brad Van Liew, who won the 34,000-mile Velux 5 Oceans marathon in May, is in Spain. But his wife, Meghan, received an email late Friday he wrote on the matter.
"Although the race around the world was a great success on the competition side, it was a real loser on the financial side," he wrote. "Despite the efforts of many, we were not able to attain the sponsorship revenues we anticipated for the project. It will force our corporation, which has existed since 1997, to go through a reorganization. We are working with an attorney on that now," he said.
Attorneys involved in the case could not be reached Friday.
According to a complaint filed by Mount Pleasant attorney Timothy Eble on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, Division in Admiralty, Van Liew Ventures Inc. owes $615,000 on the mortgage for "The sailing vessel Le Pingouin."
It was unclear Friday whether the 60-foot racing yacht has actually been taken away, or whether the action is still pending. The complaint alleges Van Liew Ventures failed to pay off the Preferred Ship's Mortgage under which the Le Pingouin was purchased on June 22, 2010. The loan was to be repaid in full by Aug. 31 of this year, the document states.
The plaintiff seeks repossession of the boat, plus "her engines, bowsprit, anchor, cables, chains, rigging, tackle, apparel, furniture and all accessories herunto pertaining to and belonging to her." The boat will be repossessed and sold to satisfy the unpaid debt, the document states.
The plaintiff not only asks for the note to be paid off but also seeks compensation for all legal fees, attorneys fees and the costs of seizing and storing the boat.
According to the document, Van Liew Ventures "failed to make timely payment as required by the note and mortgage, and is in default under the terms and conditions of the note and mortgage."
In May, Van Liew crossed the Velux 5 Oceans finish line, outside La Rochelle, France, ending the 4,000-mile run leg from South Carolina to France in eight minutes shy of 13 days. He dominated the field in the eight-month trip marathon and became the first American ever to win the 30-year-old single-handed sailboat race around the world. Europeans had dominated the race since its first edition in 1982.
Van Liew won all five legs of the race, and won five legs in the Class II division of the 2002-2003 race, on his way to a win back then.
Van Liew is the first American to race solo around the world three times.
After winning the fourth leg of Velux 5, which finished in Charleston in April, Van Liew had an insurmountable points lead in the race. All he had to do to win the overall race was to make it back to France.
He told a crowd at the Charleston Maritime Center that he would take it easy and let his boat, Le Pingouin, set the pace.
"It's a big deal to be the only American to have done something significant. This (sport) doesn't mean a lot to a lot of Americans, but in my own world, this is something. That's something they can't take away from you, that you take to the grave."