Crazy finish in The Ocean Race Europe
Published on June 2nd, 2021
Cascais, Portugal (June 2, 2021) – The opening leg of The Ocean Race Europe came to a nail-biting conclusion today in Cascais with the winners in both the VO65 and IMOCA 60 classes decided only in the last few moments of the four-day passage from Lorient, France.
After yesterday’s stint of high-speed, straight-line reaching back from the Atlantic turning mark had continued overnight for both classes, at around 0600 UTC today the entire fleet started to compress as the IMOCA 60 and VO65 crews began to strategically position themselves to round the large race exclusion zone which blocked their path to the finish line.
The racing between the five IMOCA 60s was also a close-run affair with all five teams very much in contention for victory on the final day, with the decision on which route to take around the exclusion zone playing a significant factor in the final IMOCA 60 standings.
Louis Burton’s Bureau Vallee (FRA), CORUM L’Epargne, and 11th Hour Racing Team, all looked set to round to the north but a last-minute change of heart from CORUM L’Epargne and 11th Hour Racing Team saw them gybe away to the south.
Although this move initially looked costly for the French and American team, it paid dividends for both as they somehow managed to skirt their way around the exclusion zone quickly enough to be able to overtake Offshore Team Germany and Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut who had committed themselves to the southerly route earlier.
Ultimately it was Nicolas Troussel’s CORUM L’Epargne (FRA) which took the winner’s gun, ahead of Charlie Enright’s United States entry 11th Hour Racing Team in second, and Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut (FRA) in third.
“It was an intense race… and we knew that everything could be decided here like everything can be decided in Alicante and later on in Genoa for the race final,” Troussel said. “Anyway we’re really happy with that victory, we fought very hard and the finish was magical for us.”
Special mention should be made of the crew of non-foiling Offshore Team Germany, led by experienced offshore racer Robert Stanjek, who somehow managed to claw back a deficit of over 100 nm yesterday to take the lead at one point on the final approach to Cascais this afternoon, before ultimately finishing in fourth.
A thrilling finish in the one design VO65 class saw The Austrian Ocean Race Project, skippered by Gerwin Jansen (NED), pull off a remarkable come-from-behind victory to edge out Rokas Milevičius’ Lithuanian entry Ambersail-2 by just six seconds.
“It’s crazy that we won this super-intense race,” Jansen said from the helm, moments after crossing the finishing line. “Did you see that? Four boats in a row. What a wild race. We are super-happy!”
Later, on the dock, he said: “We are the newbies, the young team, not that much experience… The last 30 miles were so intense, it was unbelievable. We just kept on fighting and this was the result!”
A further 15 seconds behind in third was Dutch skipper Simeon Tienpont’s Team Childhood I and the full seven-boat fleet finished within six minutes.
In the VO65s, long-time leader Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team was alone in choosing the northerly route, while the rest of the class squeezed together into a tight gaggle to round the south-west corner of the zone.
The final 40 nautical miles of the leg saw the VO65s in the south racing line abreast with the leader board positions changing incessantly, seemingly with every new gust of breeze.
Things got even more unpredictable in the final 15 nm as the fleet slowed in easing winds from a cold front sweeping towards the Portuguese coast.
A split amongst the six southerly VO65s, saw Sailing Poland, Team Childhood I, and The Austrian Ocean Race Project holding high, while AkzoNobel Ocean Racing (NED), Ambersail-2 (LTU), and Viva Mexico (MEX) gybed away to the south in search of a better angle to the finish.
When the boats converged again in the final two miles to the finish line, there was nothing to choose between the Austrians, Ambersail-2, and Team Childhood I as they raced for the line.
In the end it was The Austrian Ocean Race Project, a new team with a relatively young, inexperienced crew, who edged ahead to claim victory over second-placed Ambersail-2 with Team Childhood completing the podium.
In the one design VO65 class, all seven crews finished within six minutes of each other after more than four days of open water racing.
Editor’s note: A review of the highlight video shows 11th Hour Racing Team in a collision with the VO65 AmberSail 2 and the US-sponsored team better have a good story to avoid being at fault.
UPDATE: 11th Hour Racing Team did two penalty turns on the water, and when the protest filing period for the leg expired there were no protests filed, so the provisional results on the water are now final results for leg one.
1. CORUM L’Épargne, Nicolas Troussel (FRA)
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, Charlie Enright (USA)
3. LinkedOut, Thomas Ruyant (FRA)
4. Offshore Team Germany, Robert Stanjek (GER)
5. Bureau Vallée, Louis Burton (FRA)
1. The Austrian Ocean Race Project, Gerwin Jansen (NED)
2. AMBERSAIL-2, Rokas Milevičius (LTU)
3. Team Childhood I, Simeon Tienpont (NED)
4. Sailing Poland, Bouwe Bekking (NED)
5. AkzoNobel Ocean Racing, Chris Nicholson (AUS)
6. Viva México, Erik Brockmann (MEX)
7. Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team, Yoann Richomme (FRA)
The Ocean Race Europe is a new event on the offshore sailing calendar, open to the one-design VO65 class and teams sailing in a fully-crewed configuration in the IMOCA 60s. The Ocean Race Europe is providing a bridge event for 2022-23 The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race) which was postponed one year due to COVID-19.
As well as the three equally scored offshore legs totalling 2000 nm – Leg 1: Lorient to Cascais, Portugal (starts May 29); Leg 2 Cascais to Alicante, Spain (starts June 6); and Leg 3 Alicante to Genova, Italy (starts June 13) – the teams will also race two shorter coastal races in Cascais and Genova with bonus points being awarded to the top three.