Long wait for The Ocean Race

Published on January 4th, 2023

by Matthew Sheahan, Yachting World
It’s been a long wait for the next fully crewed lap of the planet since the last one finished in 2018, but finally The Ocean Race will start from Alicante on January 15. The total fleet is expected to comprise 11 boats in two classes, including the VO65 one-designs from the previous two events and a fleet of five fully crewed IMOCA 60s.

Compared to the previous race around the world under former sponsors Volvo, there have been several key changes. The course now has fewer stopovers and some significantly longer ocean legs. But the most recent alteration is that not all the boats are going all the way round.

While the IMOCA 60s will complete a full lap of the planet, including seven legs to finish in Genoa, Italy, the VO65s will sail just the first and last two legs in what the organizers have called The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup.

A new trophy will be awarded to the VO65 team which accumulates the best score across three legs of the race; Alicante, Spain to Cape Verde; Aarhus, Denmark to The Hague, the Netherlands; and The Hague to the overall finish in Genoa, Italy.

The VO65 and IMOCA 60 fleets will both compete in the in-port races scheduled in those cities, although points scored in the in-port racing will only come into play for the overall trophy in the event of a tie-break.

IMOCA 60s go crewed
The last two years have been particularly difficult for the organisers of The Ocean Race. Finding a title sponsor has proved elusive, while enticing existing IMOCA 60 teams to consider reconfiguring their boats for a fully crewed round the world race has been challenging.

The biggest hurdle has been the global pandemic and the year long postponement that was required. This not only created a huge level of uncertainty for the organization and teams alike, but the delay presented a potential clash between The Ocean Race and the single-handed French classic, the Route du Rhum, in which 38 IMOCA 60s took part. – Full report

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The Ocean Race 2022-23 Race Schedule:
Alicante, Spain – Leg 1 start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 start: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 start: February 26 or 27 (TBC)
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 start: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 start: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 start: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 start: June 15
Genova, Italy – The Grand Finale – ETA: June 25, 2023; Final In-Port Race: July 1, 2023

The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race and Whitbread Round the World Race) was initially to 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. However, only the IMOCAs will be racing round the world while the VO65s will race in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint which competes in Legs 1, 6, and 7 of The Ocean Race course. The 14th edition was originally planned for 2021-22 but was postponed one year due to the pandemic.

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