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Speed versus tactics in The Ocean Race

Published on January 29th, 2023

(January 29, 2023; Day 5) – Paul Meilhat’s Biotherm was the first boat in The Ocean Race to feel the impact of the doldrums overnight as his crew saw their speed plummet from 14 to 4 knots just after midnight UTC.

It wasn’t long before Team Holcim-PRB, 11th Hour Racing Team, and then GUYOT environnement – Team Europe found themselves in similar circumstances.

In fact, at 1200 UTC today, the only boat moving with pace towards Cape Town is Team Malizia, still charging in from behind at about 14 knots. The distance to leader has been halved from over 230 nautical miles at 1800 UTC last night to just over 100 miles at 1200 UTC on Sunday as the fleet compresses.

“The others are already in the doldrums. We are much further west than them and we still have wind,” said Nico Lunven from Malizia. “We will see for how long it lasts.”

It could be a while yet, as still positioned furthest to the west, Malizia skipper Will Harris has the potential for an easier crossing, while nearly 200 miles to the east, GUYOT skipper Robert Stanjek and his team might be in for a painful couple of days, if the forecasts are to be believed.

And grouped in the middle of the east-west spread, and furthest to the south, are Biotherm, Team Holcim-PRB, and 11th Hour Racing Team, each hoping that the next cloud and storm cell will bring the momentum they need to transition out the other side.

“The last day has been that old question between strategy and tactics,” said Kevin Escoffier yesterday afternoon as he balanced the risk of a final gybe to get further west against staying close to Biotherm and 11th Hour Racing Team. “Strategically, I think we should gybe further west. but tactically we are in a good position with these other boats.”

Watch the strategy / tactics debate on Team Holcim PRB: click here

“Looking at the fleet I think we’re in a pretty good place,” said Jack Bouttell on 11th Hour Racing Team. “We’re the most western boat (of the leading trio). We’re happy with that, but it’s going to be a bit of a restart in the doldrums anyway. Just need to stay in touch and manage it well.”

As mentally taxing as the doldrums can be, they are equally a physical challenge. With the different wind shifts, storms and ‘cloud hopping’ strategy of connecting small patches of breeze, the crews can expect a lot of sail changes and maneuvers between here and the re-establishment of the trade winds.

Leg Two Rankings at 1200 UTC
1. Biotherm, distance to finish, 3990.9 miles
2. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to leader, 19.0 miles
3. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to leader, 25.6 miles
4. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, distance to leader, 36.7 miles
5. Team Malizia, distance to leader, 102.9 miles

With race management predicting a 14-15-day passage time for Leg 2, the leading boats are expected to arrive in Cape Town on or around February 8 or 9.

Race detailsRouteTrackerTeamsContent from the boatsYouTube


Charlie ENRIGHT (USA) Skipper
Amory ROSS (USA) – OBR

Paul MEILHAT (FRA) – Skipper

Kevin ESCOFFIER (FRA) – Skipper

Robert STANJEK (GER) – skipper
Sébastien SIMON (FRA)
Anne-Claire LE BERRE (FRA)

Will HARRIS (GBR) – skipper
Rosalin KUIPER (NED)
Nicolas LUNVEN (FRA)
Antoine AURIOL (FRA) – OBR

Leg One Results

1. Team Holcim-PRB, winner leg one, finished – 5d 11h 01m 59s
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, finished – 5d 13h 50m 45s
3. Team Malizia, finished – 5d 16h 35m 21s
4. Biotherm, finished – 6d 8h 47m
5. GUYOT environnement-Team Europe, finished – 6d 12h 20m 37s

1. WindWhisper Racing, finished – 5d 16h 35m 21s
2. Team JAJO, finished – 6d 4h 52m 52s
3. Austrian Ocean Racing-Team Genova, finished – 6d 19h 13m 54s
4. Ambersail 2, finished – 6d 21h 49m 04s
5. Viva Mexico, finished – 8d 13h 50m 25s
6. Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team – Retired from leg

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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