Canada Ocean Racing plan for 2023
Published on December 14th, 2022
It was August 2022 when Canadian Scott Shawyer launched Canada Ocean Racing as a new offshore sailing team to compete in the solo, non-stop round the world Vendée Globe in 2028.
Motivated to also lead and inspire the development of offshore sailing in Canada, the team acquired the 2011 Owen Clarke Design IMOCA previously used by Offshore Team Germany, and is now gearing up for its first year of racing in 2023. Here’s their update:
Canada Ocean Racing will switch gears from start-up mode to competitive racing mode with a racing and training schedule that includes three transatlantic crossings, over 25,000 nautical miles, and four highly competitive offshore races.
Following the establishment and launch of the team in 2022, the Canada Ocean Racing team has seen a very successful first year. Joined by mentor Alex Thomson, the team has refitted their boat to bring it up to a competitive standard, built a considerable fan base, and developed the start of their commercial offering.
Following sea trials in the UK, the team undertook a training run across the north Atlantic to reach the team’s home nation of Canada. With five stops in major cities, they had a packed schedule of media sessions and welcomed over 1,000 visitors to the boat. The tour was a great success and a fantastic platform for the start of the campaign as they prepare to springboard onto the world stage of offshore sailing in 2023.
“Launching this new team to take on the Vendée Globe and to raise the profile of offshore sailing in Canada has been two years in the making and this is just the start of our journey,” said Shawyer.
“This time a year ago we didn’t have a boat or even a team, so we have come a long way already. During our fall Canadian tour, it was great to see and hear from everyone we met that there is real enthusiasm for the Vendée Globe and for offshore sailing in Canada!
“Heading into 2023 we have a very packed year with four key races, including a mix of double-handed and fully crewed events. Pushing the boat with a full crew is great for performance development, but the double-handed races are, for me, the biggest steps forward in my journey towards the Vendée Globe in 2028.”
In just a few weeks, as the new year comes in, Shawyer and the team will meet in Lanzarote, Canary Islands to compete in the Royal Ocean Racing Club Transatlantic Race starting on the January 8. The 3000-mile race ends on the island of Grenada in the Caribbean. For this race, Shawyer is joined by co-skipper Alan Roberts (GBR), a successful skipper in the Figaro class.
“The RORC Transatlantic Race is a great test for double-handed sailing and to be doing it with this newly formed IMOCA team is an exciting prospect,” said Roberts. “Scott and I have trained on the boat, we work well together in tough situations, and we are both very competitive and analytical, but we are also able to crack a joke from time to time. Our personal dynamic will be key in the upcoming race.”
Following the Atlantic crossing, the team then switches back to a fully-crewed mode for the Royal Ocean Racing Club Caribbean 600 starting on the February 20 from Antigua. A 600-mile offshore sprint race, which navigates around eleven Caribbean islands, will see the team line up against some of the most competitive professional and Corinthian offshore teams.
With a quick turnaround, Shawyer will then undertake a simulated solo Transatlantic back to the UK. Accompanied by one crew member for safety reasons, he will use this as the most extreme training to date. Supported remotely by mentor Alex Thomson, this will be one of the biggest learning opportunities for Shawyer.
“Not being out there myself still seems strange but being able to give Scott support and advice about the performance of the boat and himself is something I am really enjoying and that he is very receptive to,” explained Thomson.
“Scott still has a lot to learn but I have been very impressed with him during our training sessions so far. During the crossing we will monitor him closely and we will be managing the incoming jobs list and preparations for the summer refit as we reach a crucial point in the year, ahead of the Fastnet and Transat Jaques Vabre.”
Post summer refit, the next race in the team’s calendar is the 50th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race. The double-handed 695-mile race, starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron line in the Solent, will see the IMOCA class battle the Irish Sea before turning round the iconic Fastnet Rock to race back to Cherbourg, France.
Seen as pre-training for the Transat Jacques Vabre only a few months later, the Fastnet is key to ensuring the upgrades made during the summer are in place and ready for this 5800-mile Transatlantic race.
The Transat Jacques Vabre, will be the third Atlantic crossing in 2023 and will be the most challenging race in the calendar. With an expected 20+ fleet of other IMOCAs, the competition will be elite on a course that takes the sailors down the coast of Brazil and back up to Martinique.
• January 8: Royal Ocean Racing Club Transatlantic Race, Lanzarote to Grenada.
• February 20: Royal Ocean Racing Club Caribbean 600 Race, Antigua
• July 29: 50th edition of the Rolex Fastnet, Cowes, UK to Cherbourg, France
• October 29: Transat Jaques Vabre, La Havre, France to Martinique