Amo’s Update: Last night was radical

Published on January 18th, 2023

With the IMOCA fleet on the first leg of The Ocean Race from Alicante, Spain to Cabo Verde, Amory Ross provides this report from 11th Hour Racing Team on January 18:

Call it a grudge, but after The Ocean Race Europe – a predominantly light air upwind race through the Med – many began to … unfairly … compare the IMOCA class to the VO65s.

It’s hard to compete with narrower hulls and longer waterlines, taller rigs, and daggerboards you can pull all the way up in those conditions. They are apples to oranges, designed to do things differently, and the last 36 hrs has displayed just how different these boats are.

Last night was radical. The up-range reaching, downwind conditions highlight the effectiveness of the foils and we were quick to leg out.

We were also pretty motivated not to let Holcim-PRB got too bow forward. I can’t speak for them, but I know we are pushing. But we are pushing smartly.

For example, at 2am we’re rightfully anxious to get off our storm jib and back into trusty-J2 conditions. I think we subconsciously feel handicapped with the S4 (storm jib) against the bigger J3 (which is torn) that the rest of the fleet would likely have up. As the wind speeds trended down, the call was made to go back to the J2 … even after a midnight sched that showed us as the fastest of the fleet.

We peel to the J2 and things are fine for a bit but soon we are borderline out of control. It’s still kind of manageable but alarms are going off and we’re redlining. Maybe later in the leg, or later in the race, we hold. Not now. It was an easy call to go back to the baby S4, where we can push comfortably. We’re fast enough to be in the game, so protect the asset and take the battle another day.

Sunrise today brings slightly lower windspeeds, 23 knots, and slightly deeper angles. Now we’re running southeast and set up exactly where we want to be, offshore of the inshore boat and bow even. If it heads, Holcim sails closer to land where winds may be lighter, and if it lifts, we gain.

I’m proud of the group. Alicante was super busy but we made a plan and so far we are executing conservatively, and quickly. Also, a happy birthday to Jack! (Jack Boutell)… We’ll use his extra year of wisdom wisely.

Race detailsRouteTrackerTeamsContent from the boatsYouTube

Rankings at 1500 GMT
1. Team Holcim-PRB, 992.5 miles to finish
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, 17.8 miles to leader
3. Team Malizia, 75.6 miles to leader
4. Biotherm, 107.0 miles to leader
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, 139.7 miles to leader

1. WindWhisper Racing, 1100.4 miles to finish
2. Mirpuri Foundation Race Team, 22.6 miles to leader
3. Team JAJO, 31.2 miles to leader
4. Austrian Ocean Race – Team Genova, 66.0 miles to leader
5. Ambersail 2, 107.1 miles to leader
6. Viva Mexico, resumed racing, 574.4 miles to leader

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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