The end is finally in sight for the 49-year-old who has been at sea for more than 40 days

Belgian ocean racer Christophe Bullens has less than 900 nautical miles to sail to reach Cape Town and the finish line of the first sprint of the Velux 5 Oceans. The end is finally in sight for the 49-year-old solo sailor who has been at sea for more than 40 days.

The skipper of Five Oceans of Smiles too is expected to arrive in the South African port in around five days, more than three weeks after American sailor Brad Van Liew stepped back onto dry land as leg one winner. Ocean sprint one has been a rollercoaster for the Belgian – even before the start of the race he was forced to find a new Eco 60 yacht to race after his original boat was dismasted en route to the race start in La Rochelle.

After completing a 48-hour qualification passage on his new boat, Christophe set sail from La Rochelle a week behind his competitors. Stops in the Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands to make repairs and seek medical advice further delayed his passage.

In the last week alone Christophe’s yacht took on around a tonne of water following problems with his generator. Days later he hit a whale. “All is OK onboard except there is no wind,” he said this morning. “Tonight, I should get more wind and be able to accelerate again. The problem is that I don’t have a spinnaker halyard. So I am handicapped as I can’t set all the sails. I would like to arrive in Cape Town this weekend but I don’t have control on the weather forecasts.”

Once back on shore, Christophe will have less than a week to prepare for the second ocean sprint from Cape Town to Wellington – a 7,000 nautical mile slog through the notorious Indian and Southern oceans which starts on December 12.

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