Nova Scotia

Hatfield finishes solo race third overall

Nova Scotia sailor Derek Hatfield has completed another round-the-world solo race, making him the first Canadian to circumnavigate the globe alone twice.

Nova Scotia sailor Derek Hatfield has completed another round-the-world solo race, making him the first Canadian to circumnavigate the globe alone twice.

"It just feels amazing. It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but I guess by the end of today and tomorrow, it'll sink in. The sense of accomplishment is great, fantastic," Hatfield told CBC News Sunday morning.

Hatfield, 57, crossed the finish line of the final leg of the Velux 5 Oceans yacht race just after 4 a.m. AT Sunday.

He finished the leg from Charleston, North Carolina to France in last place, but placed third overall of the four sailors who managed to stay in the race.

Hatfield was waiting for high tide so he could make his way into port in La Rochelle — the same place the race started more than seven months ago.

The sailors began the 30,000 nautical mile race Oct. 17, which involves sailing five ocean sprints over nine months.

Hatfield is one of only about 126 sailors in history who have sucessfully made two solo sails around the world. He's made three attempts, but the second ended abruptly in Australia with a broken mast. In 2003, he won class three of the Velux 5 Oceans, which was then known as the Around Alone.

Hatfield said his boat was the only one this race that didn't sustain major damage along the way, which speaks to his team's preparation and knowledge of the details.

He admits though he was cautious during the final leg, citing equipment problems with the boat's furler and rudder.

"Leaving Charleston, I was really nervous about those two things and I think it really showed in my first two nights out. I got caught in a storm in the gulf stream and fell off the back a little bit and started to pick up the pace, but three days ago there was a huge low pressure system that came through and I felt again a little more nervous about that than I would normally. So, I think I was a little more conservative than normal, but I wanted to finish,"said Hatfield.

"It is a small feat, but it's a high quality feat. I feel very good about my level of performance, especially with the budget and the boat that we have," said Hatfield, whose wife Patty Anne was waiting for him in France as he crossed the finish line.

A podium ceremony will take place Friday evening in La Rochelle. Hatfield said all this week school children from across France who've been following the race will visit the boats. Saturday, the sailors will be presented with keys to the city. Sunday, he'll fly back home to Halifax, where Hatfield said he's looking foward to relaxing.

"I'm not sure I'll do any sailing this summer, but I have some other plans," said Hatfield.

"Not sure what our next race is, but we'll make that decision once this one settles in. As usual, I always say at the time it's probably my last, but give it a couple of months and we'll see what happens ... fortunately the brain forgets all the bad times that you've had, forgets those things very quickly. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing."  

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