No novels created in such surroundings

Published on October 29th, 2020

After training stateside for seven weeks in 11th Hour Racing Team’s homeport of Newport, RI, the crew set sail for Europe on October 27 to continue their campaign to win The Ocean Race 2022-23.

Pointed east for the land of croissants and cheese, the crew are expecting an eight to nine day crossing before making landfall in Concarneau, France. Media crew member Amory Ross (USA) sent back his first report from the crossing on October 29:

Boat speed: 19.1 knots
Position: 040° 38.158N, 056° 35.393W

I had forgotten what it feels like to type in 40 knots of wind! Spoiler alert… as unreasonable as I remember it. I can confidently assure you there are no novels created in such surroundings…

It was a fast start to our last ocean crossing of the year, covering a pretty laid back 500 miles in the first 24 hours out of Newport. Destination, Concarneau and the Brittany coast of France.

A cold first night before stepping into the Gulf Stream and some incredibly hot 29°C (84°F) water, that when cascading over the roof and around the cockpit, would noticeably warm the air around us. Averaging 24 knots for sustained periods, the final modifications to our foil before leaving showed quick promise.

Like all of the training we’ve been doing, the goals out here are numerous. We continue to upgrade livability onboard to better accommodate crewed existence. Some things we can improve, sleeping arrangements, some things we cannot, like the lack of a head, but everything we try and test now has direct implications on where we begin with the new boat, and there’s no better place to try than the middle of the ocean!

We’re also continuing to learn about our sail crossovers, when one sail is better than the other, and our downwind setup in particular. This is our third long passage in this boat and the first two have been almost entirely upwind. While the sensible thing to do may be point it straight to France and get there as quickly as possible, we will likely stay out here a bit longer to find some optimal ocean testing conditions for solutions to unanswered questions.

That was a puff of 48 knots 🙂 pretty standard for the North Atlantic in October! It has been a wildly active Hurricane season – evidenced by the Greek alphabet in storm names – and we knew we were going to join the party at some point with waiting until the fall to cross.

But realistically, we need to be comfortable sailing uncomfortably and these conditions give us a chance to do just that. This particular low pressure system is small but (obviously) intense. In the last hour winds have been over 40 more than under 40, and we probably have another two hours to endure.

When it does finally roll us, we will have the next day or so to position ourselves for the next system, what is now classified as Hurricane Zeta. By the time it reaches us it will be larger in size but likely diminished in strength. And if not, we have the time to avoid its projected path.

Atlantic storms aside, It was difficult leaving Newport after more than two months of really productive training. 11th Hour Racing, Sail Newport and the local community were really great to us and we all feel like we have a home there to go back to.

But what a time to be at sea. We were incredibly lucky to have sailed from France to Rhode Island in all of August’s uncertainty, and that same uncertainty exists today; we are as lucky now as then to be out here doing what we love. We’ll just have to remind ourselves of that during these next few hours in the middle of the maelstrom!

Team details:

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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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