Photo finish ahead for The Ocean Race
Published on February 10th, 2023
(February 10, 2023; Day 17) – For nearly 4700 nautical miles, the five IMOCA teams competing in leg 2 of The Ocean Race have been dueling south from Cabo Verde towards a finish line just off the V+A Waterfront of Cape Town.
Overnight Wednesday night (Feb. 8), the race shifted into a speed contest to the northeast as one by one, the fleet gybed out of the depths of the Roaring 40s to point directly towards Cape Town.
Incredibly, today at noon UTC, the leading trio – Team Malizia, Team Holcim PRB, and 11th Hour Racing Team – are separated by less than 2.5 nautical miles on the advantage line as they drag race towards Cape Town on day 16 of the leg.
However, there is one more ‘speed bump’ to navigate. A ridge of high pressure – with very light winds – sits between the teams and the finish line. The leading boats keep poking their bows into the lighter conditions and slowing down. Meanwhile, the last place boat in the fleet is bringing fresh winds with them as they relentlessly close the gap.
In fact, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, who trailed by over 510 miles when they made their turn to point at Cape Town, now find themselves less than 240 miles behind – a number that is coming down with each hourly position report.
“I’ve just done the routing (the weather routing predictions) for all of the boats, and we all finish within 10 minutes!” said Team Holcim PRB skipper Kevin Escoffier, in what may, or may not, be an exaggeration.
“What kind of sport are we doing when we do nearly 20 days at sea, pushing for every metre and then at the end everything is decided by the weather forecast?!
“But we know sailing is like that…” he concluded with a grim laugh. The only strategy left, he said, is to try and go as fast as possible for as long as possible. “We’ll see.”
Watch Kevin Escoffier confront the reality of a photo finish into Cape Town: click here
This is the harsh truth of the next 48 hours for crews that are physically and mentally at the limit. Every decision is fraught with meaning as they attack crossing a high pressure ridge that is as wide as 250 miles – a mini Dodrums.
“The closer we get to the finish line, the less wind we are going to have,” said Biotherm skipper Paul Meilhat. His team is nearly 100 miles to the northwest of the leading trio and sailing in different conditions. Will this be enough leverage to squeeze past?
“We hope to reduce the distance to the leaders. Maybe we will use a different strategy. They’ve left open the possibility to go directly to the finishing line (as opposed to coming up from the south).”
And after the ridge, a sprint to Cape Town.
“…once we do punch through this atrocious weather feature, we’ll have perhaps a couple of hundred mile coastal race to the finish,” noted 11th Hour Racing Team skipper Charlie Enright. “And if you believe any of the computers that we use, everybody will finish within 10 feet of each other, despite the 16 days that we busted our … selves to get here!!!! So that is it, that’s the end of leg 2!”
Leg Two Rankings at 1200 UTC
1. Team Malizia, distance to finish, 556.7 miles
2. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to lead, 1.9 miles
3. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 2.4 miles
4. Biotherm, distance to lead, 68.0 miles
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, distance to lead, 217.4 miles
Initially, race management predicted a 14-15-day passage time for Leg 2, with the leading boats expected to arrive in Cape Town on or around February 8 or 9. Now the ETA is February 12.
Race details – Route – Tracker – Teams – Content from the boats – YouTube
IMOCA LEG 2 CREW LIST
11TH HOUR RACING TEAM (USA)
Charlie ENRIGHT (USA) Skipper
Simon FISHER (GBR)
Jack BOUTTELL (AUS/ GBR)
Justine METTRAUX (SUI)
Amory ROSS (USA) – OBR
Paul MEILHAT (FRA) – Skipper
Anthony MARCHAND (FRA)
Amélie GRASSI (FRA)
Damien SEGUIN (FRA)
Annne BEUGÉ (FRA)
TEAM HOLCIM-PRB (SUI)
Kevin ESCOFFIER (FRA) – Skipper
Sam GOODCHILD (GBR)
Tom LAPERCHE (FRA)
Susann BEUCKE (GER)
Georgia SCHOFIELD (NZL) – OBR
GUYOT ENVIRONNEMENT-TEAM EUROPE (FRA/ GER)
Robert STANJEK (GER) – skipper
Sébastien SIMON (FRA)
Anne-Claire LE BERRE (FRA)
Phillip KASÜSKE (GER)
Charles DRAPEAU (FRA) – OBR
TEAM MALIZIA (GER)
Will HARRIS (GBR) – skipper
Yann ELIES (FRA)
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