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DEREK HATFIELD TAKES FINAL PODIUM PLACE IN VELUX 5 OCEANS

DEREK Hatfield today proved why he is Canada’s top solo sailor as he took the final podium position in the VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the world yacht race. The 58-year-old sailed his Eco 60 Active House across the finish line of the fifth and final ocean sprint of the 30,000-mile race at 0907 local time (0707 UTC), bringing to an end a 14-day passage across the North Atlantic from Charleston.

Derek finished fourth in the final sprint, beating race rival Chris Stanmore-Major into third place overall by just three points. Derek’s arrival into La Rochelle brings to an end the 2010/11 VELUX 5 OCEANS which saw four of the five starting skippers complete the gruelling solo circumnavigation.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to be in,” Derek said moments after crossing the finish line. “This was a huge project, two years in preparation and then nine months of sailing and to get it all done is amazing. The sense of accomplishment is huge. It will sink in a bit later when we’re tied to the dock and able to relax a bit, but right now it feels good.”

Derek becomes the only Canadian to have sailed solo around the world twice, having also raced in the 2002/3 edition of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. During that race his Class 40 yacht was capsized attempting to round Cape Horn and the mast was lost but after carrying out repairs in Argentina he was able to finish the race.

In 2008 he attempted the Vendée Globe but his race was ended when his yacht sustained damage to its rig. His completion of the 2010/11 edition is the first time he has made it round the world solo without any major problems.

“It feels complete for me now,” Derek added. “The Vendée Globe ended abruptly for me and that was devastating. I was very aware I had to finish this race in order to get back into the groove so it feels great to have done that. It’s my third race round the world, and my second complete circumnavigation. It feels good to be representing Canada and the flag, and that’s what it’s all about for us.”

Derek’s rivalry with fellow competitor Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski kept everyone on the edge of their seats with the pair constantly trading positions throughout the five ocean sprints. The pair went into the final sprint tied in second place, equal on points and both gunning for the second spot on the podium. Eventually it was Gutek and Operon Racing who won the battle for second, arriving in La Rochelle just a few hours ahead of Derek’s Active House.

“Gutek really was a force to be reckoned with right from the beginning,” Derek added. “It was a great battle with Brad and Chris too. They are great sailors and the competition just got better and better. It feels great to have got third place. I was concerned about Chris in the final sprint because he was a man on a mission and theoretically he could have knocked me off the podium but I managed to cling on. Now I am very much looking forward to stepping off the boat!”

Over the course of the VELUX 5 OCEANS Derek sailed a total of 32,216 miles, spending 130 days, 17 hours and 42 minutes at sea.