Build up to The Ocean Race 2022-23
Published on January 27th, 2022
It was September 2019 when two-time Volvo Ocean Race participants Charlie Enright (Bristol, RI) and Mark Towill (Honolulu, HI) confirmed their campaign for the 2021-22 The Ocean Race.
Since then, the pandemic postponed the start until January 2023, with the extra time well spent in the research, development, and construction of their IMOCA 60, the first of a new era of boats designed to compete in fully crewed, short-handed and solo offshore sailboat races.
The US-based offshore sailing outfit 11th Hour Racing Team has unveiled its 2022 plans as it builds up to the pinnacle of crewed offshore ocean racing, and while they have yet to reveal the sailing team, here’s how they will prepare for the start in Alicante, Spain:
The sailing team, which launched the newest, state-of-the-art IMOCA offshore sailing yacht – Mālama – in August 2021, will spend a large part of 2022 training from its French base in Port-la-Forêt, Brittany, France.
“2022 is our year for testing reliability and pushing performance,” commented Towill, 11th Hour Racing Team CEO. “We have the newest boat in the IMOCA fleet, and the first that is specifically designed for crewed racing. The Ocean Race will be an unforgiving 31,700 nautical mile marathon around the planet. We need to ensure that no stone is unturned in our quest for success.”
In 2022, the team will shift to a fully-crewed configuration after a year of short-handed sailing, with just two sailors onboard. A core crew of sailors will be supported by a rotating squad of international talent to make up the composition of five onboard.
“The length and intensity of The Ocean Race – from a 12,000 nautical mile Southern Ocean leg, to the shorter two week sprints across the Atlantic, will require this set up: attrition will be a reality,” noted Towill.
The Team’s 2021 racing schedule culminated in a two-boat IMOCA entry in the biennial Transat Jacques Vabre, a first for the double-handed race across the Atlantic from Le Havre, France to the Caribbean island of Martinique.
With just three weeks of on-water training before the start, being able to finish became the focus for Charlie Enright and Pascal Bidégorry onboard Mālama, as the boat suffered keel fin damage on day eight of the 21-day race, while racing in fifth place.
“Mālama’s performance before the incident in the Transat Jacques Vabre was really very promising – the hull shape and the aerodynamics were beyond our expectations,” said Enright. “So our focus for 2022 is going to be on improving the strong building blocks that we have in place.
“Mālama is currently in the refit shed in France and we’ll have our first training session in April – four weeks of daily training, with a number of overnight sessions to put the team, and the boat, through its pace.”
After the France-based session, the Team will then head across the Atlantic for two months of training in its home town of Newport, Rhode Island, also home to sponsor 11th Hour Racing.
“Bringing the new boat home to Newport will be an incredibly important period, not only for me personally as a Rhode Islander, but also for the wider team,” shared Enright. “We purposely chose to build the boat in the heart of the offshore sailing world in Brittany, France, so we could learn from the most experienced designers, boat builders, teams and partners.
“But due to the pandemic, our full team – across shore, communications, sponsorship and logistics – hasn’t had much of an opportunity to all come together for an extended period of time. To have the chance to do this, embedded in our home town, alongside so many people who have supported us since the start of the campaign, is a time that we are all greatly looking forward to.”
11th Hour Racing Team 2022 schedule:
• January – March: Mālama undergoes winter refit
• April-May: Training session, Port-La-Forêt, France
• End May: Transatlantic crossing from France to USA
• June-July: Newport, Rhode Island
• August: Transatlantic crossing from USA to France
• September: training session, Port-La-Forêt, France
• October: training session, Port-La-Forêt, France
• November-December: The Ocean Race preparation
• December: Delivery to Alicante, Spain for The Ocean Race start
Team details: https://www.11thhourracingteam.org/
Race details – Route – Teams – Facebook
The Ocean Race (formerly 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. The 14th edition was originally planned for 2021-22 but was postponed one year due to the pandemic.