Coastal test to decide Ocean Race Europe

Published on June 17th, 2021

Genova, Italy (June 17, 2021) – Offshore Team Germany – the non-foiling IMOCA 60 skippered by German Olympian Robert Stanjek – pulled off a spectacular victory in the third and final offshore leg of The Ocean Race Europe.

After almost four days of racing since leaving Alicante, Spain on June 13, the German team arrived in Genova at 0936 UTC today, having taken full advantage of their yacht’s superior light wind performance compared to the four other foil-equipped entries.

Stanjek and his crew – navigator Benjamin Dutreux (FRA), Annie Lush (GBR), Phillip Kasüske (GER), and onboard reporter Felix Diemer (GER) – made an early split away from the rest of the fleet when they headed north soon after leaving Alicante.

At the same time, the four foiling IMOCAs – Charlie Enright’s 11th Hour Racing Team (USA), Louis Burton’s Bureau Vallée (FRA), Nicolas Troussel’s CORUM L’Épargne (FRA), and Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut (FRA) – elected to stay closely grouped on a more south-easterly route over the first 48 hours.

Despite some slowdowns in the light and patchy winds around the Balearic Islands, Offshore Team Germany were mostly able to make steady progress along the 600 nm course and at one point had opened up a close to 10 nm lead over the chasing pack.

That lead was eroded considerably in the last 36 hours as the foilers found some stronger breeze that allowed them to sail closer to their true potential, but when the German entry crossed the line in the Gulf of Genova this morning the chasing pack was still over 20 nm away.

“Actually, it was not our plan to escape from the fleet, but sometimes things turn out a bit different than your plan it,” Stanjek said. “All our routings were north of the Balearics and so this was, for us, a clear call – and I thought some other teams would decide the same.

“We climbed up the Spanish coastline north and then we found a lane offshore with good pressure, and all of a sudden we lifted from the fleet like crazy. Within five or six hours the split was so massive and for us it was a gift. Since that moment, we were aware that we have to sail our own race because the difference between the fleet and us was already 50 miles.

“But this race was about so much more than the hardware,” Stanjek said. “I think one of the key factors to me was Benjamin [Dutreux] in this race. He’s a very good navigator, very clear and tough strategist. I think we both worked well together. It was probably me doing a little bit more the risk management on his advice – but he did a great, great job.

“And the whole team also stayed focused and awake. We had difficult parts in the race where everyone closed in, and we had no breeze at all. Sailing upwind in an IMOCA in three knots is not really fun.

“This is just the start of let’s call it a second career. I’m not a standard offshore sailor. I’ve raced in the Olympic classes for a long, long time. But after the Olympics, I started to enjoy offshore sailing. So I hope this race will bring us closer to the start to the next Ocean Race. I can’t actually wait to to get to the starting line.”

Second place in the IMOCAs went to the blue hulled LinkedOut, whose skipper Thomas Ruyant had been downbeat before the leg about his boat’s chances of performing well in the forecast ultra-light wind passage.

Nevertheless, Ruyant’s crew, who led the fleet offshore last night in search of more wind, was today able to overhaul the American 11th Hour Racing Team in a drag race on the approach to Genova.

“LinkedOut flew right past us at 19 knots to our 11 or 12 knots without the port foil,” said Enright, still missing the foil they damaged at the start of Leg 2. “This was frustrating, but something we saw in the forecast, so we were mentally prepared for it and we kept fighting until the end.”

As the wind dropped away closer to shore LinkedOut slipped across the leg three finish line at a sedate seven knots with 11th Hour Racing Team completing the IMOCA podium places just minutes later.

The points awarded to the top three IMOCA finishers in this leg mean that each of Germany, LinkedOut and 11th Hour Racing Team will have an opportunity to win The Ocean Race Europe with the right result in the Coastal Race on June 19, the final event of The Ocean Race Europe.

Two boats finished later today, with Bureau Vallée drifting across the line ahead of CORUM L’Epargne, who were finished in place when the Race Committee shortened the course and awarded them fifth place for the leg.

Earlier today, it was the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team earning a spectacular come from behind win in the VO65 class over AkzoNobel Ocean Racing and Sailing Poland. For the finish report, click here.

With the overall standings so close, the attention now turns to the Coastal Race which will decide the final outcome in both classes. Bonus points are awarded to the top three finishers in each class – 3 points for a win, 2 points for second, and a single point for third place.

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Leg Three Standings:

1. Offshore Team Germany (GER)
2. LinkedOut (FRA)
3. 11th Hour Racing Team (USA)
4. Bureau Vallée (FRA)
5. CORUM L’ Épargne (FRA)

1. Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team (POR)
2. AkzoNobel Ocean Racing (NED)
3. Sailing Team Poland (POL)
4. Team Childhood I (POL)
5. Viva México (MEX)
6. Ambersail-2 (LTU)
7. The Austrian Ocean Race Project (AUS)

Overall standings after Leg Three:

1. Offshore Team Germany (GER) – 14 points
2. LinkedOut (FRA) – 13 points
3. 11th Hour Racing Team (USA) – 12 points
4. CORUM L’ Épargne (FRA) – 7 points
5. Bureau Vallée (FRA) – 5 points

1. Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team (POR) – 18 points
2. AkzoNobel Ocean Racing (NED) – 17 points
3. Sailing Team Poland (POL) – 15 points
4. Team Childhood I (POL) – 12 points
5. The Austrian Ocean Race Project (AUS) – 10 points
6. Ambersail-2 (LTU) – 9 points
7. Viva México (MEX) – 8 points

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.

Source: TORE

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