The Ocean Race Europe begins Stage 2
Published on June 6th, 2021
Cascais, Portugal (June 6, 2021) – The second leg of The Ocean Race Europe got underway today where the event’s 12 professional yacht crews representing nine countries from around the world set off on a four-day offshore passage to Alicante, Spain.
Racing in two classes of monohull yachts – seven one design VO65s and five of the development rule IMOCA 60s – The Ocean Race Europe fleet set off at 1300 local time on the four-day, 700-nautical mile second stage.
Having arrived in Cascais on June 2 at the end of the three-day opening stage from Lorient, France, the sailors had only a few days to recover before returning to points racing yesterday in a coastal sprint.
Overnight the teams had to quickly switch mindsets from inshore to open water offshore racing as they take on what weather forecasters predict will at times be a wild and windy trip to Alicante, Spain.
The course for leg two sees the fleet pass Portugal’s coastal capital city Lisbon and then south on to Cape St. Vincent, the southwestern-most point in Portugal and Europe.
Here the boats will turn southeast towards the Strait of Gibraltar – the narrow and highly congested waterway which divides the Iberian Peninsula from Morocco in Africa, and marks the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.
Conditions in the Gibraltar Strait are expected to be fierce, with headwinds peaking to 40 knots tomorrow when The Ocean Race Europe yachts are expected to pass through.
Once into the Mediterranean the most direct route is along the Spanish coast to the finish in Alicante. However, depending on the prevailing weather conditions the crews may opt to sail a longer route in the hope of finding better winds that will get them there quicker.
“The wind starts to go up a lot in the Strait of Gibraltar,” said renowned French yachtsman Sébastien Josse who is racing aboard the IMOCA 60 CORUM L’Épargne (FRA) that tops the class standings leaving Cascais.
“We have two options in the Strait: one is to stay in the north on the left coast. It’s maybe a lot of tacks in a narrow zone but with less wind. The second option is to cross the Strait and go to Morocco, but we are in really strong wind – 40 knots and less tacks.
“That’s just a few hours and after that the wind drops completely and we start the new race upwind in light air to Alicante – and we don’t know yet what weather we have.”
Having proved right the old sporting adage of never ever giving up with a surprise win in the VO65 class on leg one, the skipper of The Austrian Ocean Race Project, Gerwin Jansen, said his young crew would be giving their all like always on the way to Alicante.
“We enjoyed the win like we should,” Jansen said. “But we have also tried to get the expectations down a little bit. It’s not quite normal that the young team wins like that for the very first race. So now we are ready for leg two, we’re going to try to push as hard as we can.
“It’s going to be downwind sailing to the southern part of Portugal. Then we go into the Straits of Gibraltar and we’re looking at pretty strong winds upwind with choppy waves. So it’s going to be tough on the crew, tough on the boat, and we have to survive the fight.”
After a short delay to allow a new breeze to stabilize IMOCA 60s were the first fleet to start leg two, with all five boats powering off the line on a short fast northwest reach to a turning buoy marking the exit point from Cascais, where Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut was the first to round.
Meanwhile, the seven VO65s were a spectacular sight as they lined up in close formation on the first reach. As if to prove that their leg one win was no fluke, The Austrian Ocean Race Project crew got the jump off the line to lead the VO65s at the Cascais exit mark.
Based on the latest weather models the teams are predicted to complete leg two in four days, and so are expected to arrive in Alicante on Thursday June 9.
After the IMOCA 60 11th Hour Racing Team collided with the VO65 AmberSail 2 prior to the finish of Leg 1, the team caught the anchor line of a small motorboat with their port foil two miles after the Leg 2 start. While there were no injuries onboard the motorboat, the team needed to return to Cascais where the damaged foil was removed from the boat and a foil plate inserted in its place.
“We take full responsibility for what happened today on the water and we are all hugely relieved there were no injuries on either boat,” said Skipper Charlie Enright (USA). “Since we touched the dock, the shore team and crew have been working fast to get the foil removed and completed visual checks showing there is no further damage to the boat.
“We have regrouped and refocused our minds on the task that is now ahead of us. Sailing with only the starboard foil and behind the rest of the fleet will be an additional challenge, but one we are all determined to face head on. As a team we are resilient and looking forward to getting back out on the water to restart Leg 2 of The Ocean Race Europe.”
11th Hour Racing Team resumed racing at 1708 UTC, some 75 nautical miles behind leaders of the IMOCA 60 fleet, LinkedOut.
The Ocean Race Europe Overall Standings:
The Austrian Ocean Race Project (AUT) – 7 points
Ambersail-2 (LTU) – 6 points
AkzoNobel Ocean Racing (NED) – 5 points
Sailing Poland (POL) – 5 points
Team Childhood I – 5 points
Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team (POR) – 4 points
Viva México (MEX) – 2 points
11th Hour Racing Team (USA) – 6 points
Offshore Team Germany (GER) – 5 points
CORUM L’ Épargne (FRA) – 5 points
LinkedOut (FRA) – 4 points
Bureau Vallée (FRA) – 1 point
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 16) – the teams will also race two shorter coastal races in Cascais and Genova with bonus points being awarded to the top three.