Fleet compresses in The Ocean Race
Published on March 9th, 2023
(March 9, 2023; Day 12) – It’s been a fantastic 48 hours on the race track for the trio of boats chasing down The Ocean Race current Leg 3 leader, Team Holcim-PRB.
Since 1500 UTC on March 8, second-placed Biotherm have gained nearly 250 nautical miles. The lead is still significant – at 164 nm as of 18:00 UTC – but certainly far less secure than earlier in the week.
The reason the gap is shrinking so significantly and quickly is certainly largely due to the weather patterns in the Roaring 40s.
Kevin Escoffier’s Holcim-PRB has essentially out run the favorable weather system it had been enjoying and is now nosing against a ridge of high pressure with much lighter wind conditions. There is nothing to do, and no other option, but to watch the rest of the fleet – still in stronger conditions – bring the wind forward with them.
“This light spot has been perfect to check through the boat and sleep well, so it’s not bad,” said Escoffier. “We are used to it (the fleet getting closer). It’s all part of the game. We are used to racing in contact with the other boats from Leg 1 and 2 and we’ve been able to stay in front and I hope we can do the same here.”
On Biotherm, spirits are high, as you would imagine, but Paul Meilhat’s team has also been experiencing slightly lighter conditions, while Team Malizia and 11th Hour Racing Team continue to make the best mileage, closing the gap and compressing the fleet with each hourly tracker update.
“Conditions are a bit variable and unpredictable today and just an extra two or three knots of windspeed can make a big difference,” said Team Malizia skipper Boris Herrmann. “Being so close to 11th Hour Racing Team and Biotherm is a huge motivation. We’re trying to sail the boat at its best at all times and taking a lot of pleasure in the close racing.”
It should get closer yet as the boats approach the scoring gate, a north/south line along 143-degrees east longitude with an ETA of noon UTC on March 13.
“It will be very close with Biotherm and 11th Hour Racing Team. Of course we would love to get there in second place but it really depends on the wind and weather,” Herrmann said. “But it should be close and very exciting.”
“Being the trailing boat we have a little more pressure than the boats ahead,” said Simon Fisher from onboard 11th Hour Racing Team. “But basically the next few days is just reaching. The routing will want to take us down to the ice exclusion zone and there will be some windshifts to manage, but it should be straightforward sailing for the next few days with flat water.”
Leg Three Rankings at 18:00 UTC
1. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to finish, 9211.4 nm
2. Biotherm, distance to lead, 164.2 nm
3. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 188.2 nm
4. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 193.1 nm
GUYOT environnement – withdrawn from Leg 3
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