Leg 1 winners for The Ocean Race
Published on January 21st, 2023
Cape Verde (January 21, 2023) – Skipper Kevin Escoffier, a veteran of The Ocean Race who is leading Team Holcim-PRB, steered his boat over the finishing line off Mindelo, Cabo Verde just after 01:00 local time this morning, to win Leg One of The Ocean Race.
Team Holcim – PRB finished at 02:01:59 UTC for an elapsed time on the leg of 5 days, 11 hours, 1 minute and 59 seconds.
Escoffier and his team led for the majority of Leg One. The winning move came in the midst of an intense tacking duel on the second day and night of the race, with Holcim-PRB and 11th Hour Racing Team zig-zagging their way along the Spanish coast, beating into the teeth of a fierce westerly that had already caused some damage on Holcim-PRB.
Then, 11th Hour Racing Team reported a torn headsail during one of the maneuvers that forced them to slow to recover the sail and rig a replacement. That small moment was all Escoffier and his crew needed to make the pass.
Managing these extreme conditions during the race allowed Escoffier to check both the good condition of the boat and the cohesion within the team he chose to start this round the world race with. “It was our first time sailing together and I don’t regret the choices I made.” The crew with Escoffier was Abby Ehler, Sam Goodchild, Tom Laperche, and Julien Champolion (onboard reporter).
As the first boat into the Atlantic, Holcim-PRB was able to leverage that tiny advantage into a lead the team would never relinquish. In the fast downwind sailing conditions towards Cabo Verde, the team was invincible, sailing fast and low. Escoffier kept his boat positioned between the opposition and the finishing line and there was no possibility to pass.
It was a masterful performance after those worrisome first hours in the Mediterranean where the team had to confront damage to their boat.
“The repairs we made have held,” Escoffier said on the last day of the leg. “There are some small details that we will have to review. We will check the boat at the finish, especially the fittings, because of the strong wind conditions we had to deal with in the Mediterranean, but nothing serious. We will have plenty of time to fix everything in Cape Verde.”
Launched in May 2022, it’s the first victory for the boat after finishing fourth in the 2022 Route du Rhum, though Escoffier is not resting with it. “It doesn’t mean anything about the final result, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but it rewards all the hard work of the team.
“I am very happy to start like this. I don’t want the others to think that they can catch up with us at certain speeds. When the others speed up, we speeded up twice as much to show that we still had some speed left!”
IMOCA Rankings at 07:00 UTC
1. Team Holcim-PRB, winner leg one, finished – 5d 11h 01min 59s
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, finished – 5d 13h 50min 45s
3. Team Malizia, finished – 5d 16h 35min 21s
4. Biotherm, 219.3 miles to finish
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, 271 miles to finish
In the VO65 class, the Polish WindWhisper Racing Team led by race veteran Pablo Arrarte took victory in the first stage of the inaugural The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint. WindWhisper crossed the finishing line at 14:11:14 UTC with an elapsed time of 6d 01h 11min 14s.
The team battled hard on the opening 48 hours of the race to escape the brutal conditions of the Mediterranean with a lead and was able to extend and protect from there in the fast, downwind conditions of the Atlantic.
The VO65s competing for The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup will pause their racing activities after this opening stage until the spring, when they resume racing in Aarhus, Denmark.
For the IMOCAs it’s a short – and busy – break. The sailing teams are required to carry out repairs without the assistance of their shore crews at this stop. Racing resumes January 25 with the Cabo Verde start of Leg Two to Cape Town, South Africa.
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