As he closes in on the finish line and possible victory, the American entry in the Velux 5 Oceans race is sounding alarm bells about what he's seeing this time.
"I am sailing in [48 F] water in a place that should have a far cooler water temperature," says Brad Van Liew, now on his third around-the-world race. "I am sailing deliberately farther north than ever before because the Antarctic Convergence (ice zone) is hundreds of miles farther north than when I first sailed the Southern Ocean in 1998."
The Velux 5 Oceans race is a 30,000-nautical-mile single-handed race that begins and ends in La Rochelle, France. Van Liew was in first place on Jan. 14, with 218 nautical miles to the finish. The racers expect to complete the race in July.
The other North American skipper in the race voiced his concern in a statement alongside Van Liew. Between the two of them, the pair has been around the world four times. But this time is different, Canadian sailor Derek Hatfield says.
"I'm not a scientist, but I know that things are changing. I see it in the oceans," Hatfield says. "Even crossing the Atlantic from Canada to France for the start of the Velux 5 Oceans I didn't see one dolphin or one whale. The ocean is dying. I made my first trans-Atlantic crossing in 1993, and I would see dozens of dolphins and maybe two whales every day. Now you can cross the ocean, and there's hardly any life there. It's just a body of water. It's unbelievable how it has changed in just a few years."
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