USA boat problems in The Ocean Race
Published on March 8th, 2023
(March 8, 2023; Day 11) – With all four teams sailing deep into the Roaring 40s, The Ocean Race fleet is finally in what the sailors would consider to be more classic conditions, with strong winds from a series of low pressure systems propelling them relentlessly east.
It’s been a stressful time on 11th Hour Racing Team, as after making repairs to two headsails, the team discovered damage to its rudders during a routine inspection.
From onboard reporter Amory Ross: “Jack (Bouttell) looked at the windward rudder – the one that’s out of the water – and found a crack. It was decent, from front to back, midway down on the outboard side. Then another nearer the top, much smaller, but also closer to the ‘root’, where the rudder meets the boat; a point of importance because losing the tip of a rudder is one thing but the whole rudder is another.
“Juju (Justine Mettraux) was quick to suggest checking the port rudder so down went the starboard rudder and up came the port. No long crack midway down, but a bigger one at the top in the same place as the starboard rudder.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since then, but here’s the summary. After taking our own onboard observations and conferring with our shore team plus the rudders’ designers in France, it was determined that the starboard rudder was the worse off of the two because of its second, longer crack. We chose to put our spare rudder in its place. So the starboard rudder came out, and the spare went in, all quite seamlessly…”
The team has been powering along at pace all day, a good sign that things on board are back to normal.
As for the leader, Team Holcim-PRB has made a dive to become the boat furthest to the south. This is because the team keeps nosing into lighter conditions ahead, something that has been a concern for skipper Kevin Escoffier for some days now. He has seen Biotherm slice nearly 100 miles off his lead over the past three days, and this is his best defense.
Escoffier and his crew have also struggled to find the right sail set-up for the conditions, with vibrant discussions (in French) about how to proceed.
On Biotherm, the mood is lighter, as Sam Davies updates: “The wind has shifted to the north and we’ve gybed overnight and now we’re running just ahead of a front and the wind is going to build.
“We’ve been checking the boat and doing the little jobs that are impossible to do in stronger winds. We’re making the most of the smooth running conditions, where life on board is much easier to sleep and eat and make sure all the systems are working for the next week, because we’re going to be sending it on port all the way to Tasmania. The mood on board is as good as ever – I’m using my headphones to cancel out the sound of laughter from the cockpit… !”
If you want to understand what ‘smooth running conditions’ look like, hop on board ‘Air Malizia’ as a drone video has visuals from the ‘champagne conditions’.
“It’s pretty nice to cross the ocean like this – it’s one of the best days of Leg 3. Smooth seas, not too much wind, no stress…”
Look for the miles to melt away over the coming days, as the breeze comes on and the fleet charges east.
Leg Three Rankings at 23:00 UTC
1. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to finish, 9413.5 nm
2. Biotherm, distance to lead, 323.4 nm
3. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 352.6 nm
4. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 357.6 nm
GUYOT environnement – withdrawn from Leg 3
Race details – Route – Tracker – Teams – Content from the boats – YouTube
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 (1900 nm) start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 (4600 nm) start: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 (12750 nm) start: February 26
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 (5500 nm) start: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 (3500 nm) start: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 (800 nm) start: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 (2200 nm) 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