Wild first night for The Ocean Race

Published on January 16th, 2023

(January 16, 2023; Day 2) – The opening 24 hours of The Ocean Race has been challenging, but not unexpected. After running into a quiet spell overnight, during which both fleets compressed, the forecast has played out its threat with strong winds and big seas sweeping across the Alboran Sea.

In the IMOCA fleet, after an impressively dominant performance from Biotherm (FRA) at the start, Paul Meilhat’s team found themselves trapped in very light winds, unable to keep pace with competitors that had taken alternative routes.

By this morning, 11th Hour Racing Team was leading the field as Charlie Enright’s crew hugged the Spanish coastline to stay in the flatter water.

“As is often the case (on the first day) it has been far from straight-forward,” said 11th Hour Racing Team’s Simon Fisher. “Multiple transitions, a lot of sail changes, but we’ve come out in good shape, we’re leading the fleet, and we’re into the pressure.”

Watch the video from 11th Hour Racing Team: click here

And in the increased wind pressure, conditions were becoming extreme. Back at race control in Alicante, where all the competitors’ data is monitored and logged 24 hours a day, the American flagged team and Kevin Escoffier’s Holcim PRB (SUI) were sailing upwind at 14 knots in 40-knots of wind.

Watch the video from Team Holcim-PRB: click here

Shortly before starting the leg Holcim PRB’s crew member Sam Goodchild outlined their approach to the first leg:

“Our mantra is definitely to keep it simple,” he said. “While we’ve all sailed the boat separately, the four of us have only sailed together as a crew on this boat three times before the first leg, so there’s a good reason for keeping it simple.

“We are also going to be looking at the other teams, what they’re doing and what their performance is. We’re not going to tie ourselves in knots trying to chase them around and trying to cover everyone else, because on the first leg, we don’t really know where we sit.”

For the VO65 Viva México (MEX), the team suffered a torn mainsail forcing them to postpone racing and head for Almeria where they were looking to either repair or replace the damaged sail.

“It puts us in a tough situation because right now we cannot repair it here and we are looking at our options,” said skipper Erik Brockmann. “We were really trying to get out of Gibraltar as soon as possible because the weather gets worse later on and this six to eight hour delay puts us in a tougher situation. The good thing is everyone is safe and the boat is good.”

While most of the VO65 fleet were staying close to the Spanish coastline in an effort to remain in flatter water, Ambersail 2 chose to take a flyer from the fleet when the breeze was light and cross the Mediterranean, presumably to avoid being trapped in light winds to the north.

Their gamble took them close to the North African coastline but when they tacked onto port to head back the breeze had veered putting them on the wrong side of the shift. As they headed back towards the north their flyer didn’t appear to have paid off.

Their route had also taken them across the windiest part of the Mediterranean, now they were committed to more.

Rankings at 1600 GMT

1. 11th Hour Racing Team, 1652 miles to finish
2. Team Holcim-PRB, 2.3 miles to leader
3. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, 18.1 miles to leader
4. Team Malizia, 20.4 miles to leader
5. Biotherm, 24.9 miles to leader

1. Ambersail 2, 1665 miles to leader
2. WindWhisper Racing, 1.6 miles to leader
3. Mirpuri Foundation Race Team, 1.6 miles to finish
4. Team JAJO, 6.7 miles to leader
5. Austrian Ocean Race – Team Genova, 7.4 miles to leader
6. Viva Mexico, suspended racing, 38 miles to leader

Race detailsRouteTrackerTeamsFacebookYouTube

IMOCA: Boat, Design, Skipper, Launch date
• Guyot Environnement – Team Europe (VPLP Verdier); Benjamin Dutreux (FRA)/Robert Stanjek (GER); September 1, 2015
• 11th Hour Racing Team (Guillaume Verdier); Charlie Enright (USA); August 24, 2021
• Holcim-PRB (Guillaume Verdier); Kevin Escoffier (FRA); May 8, 2022
• Team Malizia (VPLP); Boris Herrmann (GER); July 19, 2022
• Biotherm (Guillaume Verdier); Paul Meilhat (FRA); August 31 2022

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.

Additionally, The Ocean Race also features the In-Port Series with races at seven of the course’s stopover cities around the world which allow local fans to get up close and personal to the teams as they battle it out around a short inshore course.

Although in-port races do not count towards a team’s overall points score, they do play an important part in the overall rankings as the In-Port Race Series standings are used to break any points ties that occur during the race around the world.

The 14th edition of The Ocean Race was originally planned for 2021-22 but was postponed one year due to the pandemic, with the first leg starting on January 15, 2023.

Source: The Ocean Race

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