The VELUX 5 OCEANS has hit the big screen with a starring role in a Hollywood blockbuster based around sailing. The race, dubbed The Ultimate Solo Challenge, was chosen to be the round-the-world yacht race central to the film Charlie St Cloud, starring teen heartthrob Zac Efron, released in US cinemas on July 30.

The film is an adaptation of the best-selling Ben Sherwood novel The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud, in which the eponymous hero falls in love with a young sailor days before she is due to go to sea in a challenging solo round the world yacht race. Film producers chose to base the film on the 35,000-mile VELUX 5 OCEANS race – the oldest regularly-held ocean race in the world – for its rich heritage spanning 28 years and reputation as one of the toughest sporting challenges known to man. It is the first time ever a major ocean yacht race has featured on the silver screen.

Fittingly the yacht used in the film is none other than VELUX 5 OCEANS skipper Brad Van Liew’s old boat Tommy Hilfiger, believed to be the fasted 50ft boat in the world. Van Liew sailed the yacht, now called Gryphon Solo, to victory in class two of the 2003 edition of the race, winning every leg. The yacht will appear in the film with full VELUX 5 OCEANS branding on its hull and sails. The timing couldn’t be better, as Charleston-based skipper Van Liew is once again returning to the race, which sets out from La Rochelle on October 17 this year.

Van Liew said: “The Open 50 race boat used in the movie is very special for me as I sailed it around the planet alone in the 2002-3 Around Alone (now the VELUX 5 OCEANS). She was my faithful companion for nine months of pretty intense racing, and the ultimate 1st place victory we achieved together.”  He added: “I am excited that the actors and production team of the movie are interested in the authentic history of the boat and also the sport of ocean racing.”

VELUX 5 OCEANS Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “It is a real privilege for us that the makers of Charlie St Cloud decided to feature our race in their film. The VELUX 5 OCEANS race is known as The Ultimate Solo Challenge for a reason – it really is the pinnacle of what a person can push themselves to do. It is really exciting to be associated with a major Hollywood picture, and we are delighted that it will bring the world of ocean racing to a whole new audience.  Maybe in four years time we’ll have a totally new breed of skippers who were inspired to take to the seas after watching this film.”

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, starts from La Rochelle in France on October 17 and features five ocean sprints. After heading from La Rochelle to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

VELUX 5 OCEANS – The Ultimate Solo Challenge

The VELUX 5 OCEANS is the Ultimate Solo Challenge, the ultimate human endeavour. More than 500 people have been into space – less than 180 have sailed round the world solo. The VELUX 5 OCEANS is a series of five high-pressure ocean sprints within a marathon 30,000-nautical mile circumnavigation. The race, run every four years since 1984, has a rich heritage which has given rise to some of the world’s best sailors. The VELUX 5 OCEANS is not only the longest round the world yacht race but at nearly 30 years old is also the longest running. Always at the forefront of ocean racing innovation, the 2010/11 VELUX 5 OCEANS will see the premiere of the Eco 60 class of yachts, pushing a message of sustainability, accessibility and affordability.


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Clipper Ventures Plc

This year marks 42 years since Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s historic solo and non-stop circumnavigation in 1970. Now, as Chairman of Clipper Ventures PLC, he is at the forefront of promoting round the world yacht racing. Clipper Ventures, the marine sports company founded in 1995, is focused on developing and promoting major events capable of attracting significant participation, income, media coverage and associated sponsorship revenue. Knox-Johnston founded Clipper Ventures on the belief that sailing should be made available to everyone and therefore created the Clipper Round the World Race, with 2,000 people having now completed one of the seven races to date.

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