Heading to home of offshore yacht racing

Published on October 22nd, 2020

After seven weeks of training in Newport, Rhode Island, 11th Hour Racing Team has unveiled its winter 2020 plans in its campaign to win The Ocean Race 2022-23.

The team is now preparing for a transatlantic crossing from the USA to Concarneau, France, at the end of October, returning to Europe after having made the trip at the beginning of August 2020. The IMOCA 60 (the former Hugo Boss 6 which came second in the 2016 Vendée Globe) will then undergo a winter refit before the crew reconvenes in Europe in early 2021 for more training.

“Our standby window for departure will start on October 26 and we’ll be looking for weather conditions that aren’t too extreme: it’s getting late in the year and the weather is stronger and starting to move faster,” said crew member Simon Fisher (GBR).

“The objective of this transatlantic is to get as much data as possible on the boat and foil and so we want the right conditions for testing – fast sailing and downwind – which we should have the whole way across.”

Joining skipper Charlie Enright (USA), Fisher, Rob Greenghalgh (GBR), Kyle Langford (AUS), and media crew member Amory Ross (USA) for the Atlantic crossing will be Swiss offshore sailor, Justine Mettraux (SUI).

Mettraux has spent the past seven years competing at the very top of offshore sailing, despite starting her sailing career on the lakes of landlocked Switzerland. She came second in the Mini Transat in 2013 and raced for four seasons in the Figaro solo offshore circuit. Mettraux has previous experience in The Ocean Race having sailed two legs onboard Dongfeng Race Team, the overall winner of the 2017-18 edition and on Team SCA in the 2014-15 race.

11th Hour Racing Team have been busy since arriving in Newport, Rhode Island in mid-August, each week a mix of simulator work testing theoretical foil configurations, day sailing and overnight offshore sessions.

“It’s been great to be in our home port of Newport, and the home of our sponsor 11th Hour Racing, for the past few months,” said Enright. “The welcome we receive from the residents is always so warm, which was really evident at the Homecoming put on for us in early September.

“2021 is going to have a full-on schedule with a combination of training and racing around Europe, continuing our learning in fully-foiling IMOCA 60s. In June our new boat will come out of the shed after 18 months of design and build, so we will have a commissioning period and then we’ll be putting everything we have learned to the test.”

Brittany, France was a strong choice for a winter base for the team as it is the heart of the French dominated offshore sailing world and where the new 11th Hour Racing Team’s IMOCA 60 is being designed and built.

MerConcept, spearheaded by François Gabart, has been responsible for the performance and technology of the new boat, which is being designed by Guillaume Verdier and his extended studio, and under construction at CDK Technologies.

Being in Europe also allows the team the opportunity to take part in some of the French-run IMOCA 60 racing next year, including the Défi Azimut in September 2021, and the Transat Jacques Vabre double-handed race to Brazil in October, as well as the RORC organized Rolex Fastnet Race in August which will finish for the first time in Cherbourg, France.

“France is the home of offshore yacht racing and so to be immersing ourselves in the culture, amongst the world’s experts, and to be racing alongside the very best teams, is the perfect opportunity to continue our fast-track introduction to this new Class,” commented Enright.

“Our current outlook is to be sailing and racing in our new IMOCA next summer and we are having conversations with teams about the sale or charter of HB 6: she’s a highly competitive IMOCA 60 with a really strong track record in international races.

“We’ve made some significant modifications and improvements including new foils and cases and the work this winter will ensure she is IMOCA Class compliant. HB 6 has great potential for a team looking to enter The Ocean Race 2022-23,” Enright concluded.

Team details: https://11thhourracingteam.org/

Source: 11th Hour Racing Team

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Here was the plan prior to the 2022-23 postponement:
The Ocean Race 2021-22 (formerly The Volvo Ocean Race) will be raced in two classes of boats: the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which has been used for the last two editions of the race. Entries in the IMOCA 60 class will compete for The Ocean Race trophy, while those racing the VO65s will chase the Ocean Challenge Trophy.


Ten Stopovers for 14th Edition:
Alicante, Spain: This historic Mediterranean port will host the start for the fifth consecutive edition in the autumn of 2021.

Cabo Verde: More accustomed to having offshore teams sail by, or stop for repair, this archipelago of ten volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean will become just the second African venue the race has ever visited and the first West African nation to host the event. Details.

Cape Town, South Africa: Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town, as the oldest urban area in South Africa, was developed by the United East India Company (VOC) as a supply station for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa, India, and the Far East. Located at latitude 33.55° S, it’s approximately the same as Sydney and Buenos Aires and equivalent to Casablanca and Los Angeles in the northern hemisphere. Details.

Shenzhen, China: Located in the southeast, the city is a modern metropolis that links Hong Kong to China’s mainland. It’s known for its shopping destinations and features contemporary buildings, such as the 600m-tall skyscraper Ping An International Finance Centre, and a number of amusement parks. The city is a leading global technology hub and was one of the fastest-growing cities in the world in the 1990s and the 2000s. Details.

Auckland, New Zealand: European, Polynesian, Asian, and strong Maori heritages give Auckland its distinctive culture. Located in the North Island of New Zealand, it is the most populous urban area in the country with an urban population of around 1,570,100. Details.

Itajaí, Brazil: To the south of Rio de Janeiro, Itajaí was founded in the mid-19th century by German and Italian colonists, and is now the commercial centre and Atlantic port for an agricultural region drained by the Itajaí River and its tributaries. Details.

Newport, USA: Located on Aquidneck Island, Newport is 74 miles south of Boston and 180 miles northeast of New York City. It is known as a New England summer resort and is famous for its historic mansions and its rich sailing history. It was the location of every challenge to the America’s Cup between 1930 and 1983. It is also the home of Naval Station Newport, which houses the United States Naval War College, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and an important Navy training center. This is the third consecutive edition of the race to stop in Newport. Details.

Aarhus, Denmark: The course comes to the east coast of the Jutland peninsula during the spring of 2022, following a popular ‘Fly-By’ of the city during the final leg of the 2017-18 edition of the Race. Details.

The Hague, Netherlands: This city along the North Sea coast will welcome the race for a third consecutive time, first coming as a ‘pitstop’ on the final leg of the 2014-15 edition and as the final finish port for the 2017-18 race. Details.

Genoa, Italy: As the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, this first-time race host is Italy’s largest sea port yet remains full of grandeur as the gateway to the Riviera while offering weighty architectural heritage. Details.

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