One final gut punch for The Ocean Race

Published on April 1st, 2023

(April 1, 2023; Day 35) – It was the last thing The Ocean Race teams needed.

A quick, deepening low pressure system bringing winds in excess of 40 knots, a sickening sea state, and another massive challenge.

But that was the state of play overnight. To watch some of the action on Team Holcim PRB, click here.

It meant an exhausting, pressure-filled night, trying to compete for points while making sure the boat and crew could make it to the finish line.

“This is the final push – push, push, push!!!” said Malizia’s skipper Boris Herrmann. “I’m trying to keep the boat upright and balanced under the sails… I have to confess, I’m a bit tense. You don’t want to make a mistake now, here.”

With the competition so close, teams are being circumspect about how much damage they have suffered. It’s a competitive advantage to hide your vulnerabilities from the competition, but nobody has raced 15,000 hard miles unscathed.

There is no doubt that every boat is operating at less than 100%. And every crew member is being asked to give more, well past their comfort level.

For example, Team Holcim-PRB dropped miles to Team Malizia last night. After the boats had raced in lockstep since Cape Horn, it was unusual to see Malizia quickly stretch out to 30-plus miles.

It’s not hard to imagine some level of damage on board as a contributing factor. The distance seems to have stabilized this morning (local time), but what happened yesterday could already be the leg-winning difference for Boris Herrmann’s team.

Both teams pushed close to the shore to escape the worst of the weather, but still experienced gale force winds and a punishing sea state.

Further back, in the fight for third place, we know Biotherm hit an object last night and damaged their port foil. The fact that 11th Hour Racing Team hasn’t added to its lead in a meaningful way would indicate Charlie Enright’s squad is probably operating at a level less than 100% as well.

It would be impossible to overstate how challenging this last run up the coast has been. Since Cape Horn the teams have been in a constant battle. Normally the turn to the north provides a respite from the southern ocean and a return to a week of tactical racing to the finish.

This year, it has been a continuous series of new challenges to be met by crews and boats who have been pushed long past their operational limits.

The ETA for the winning boat is between 0130 and 0300 local time tomorrow in Itajaï (0430 to 0630 UTC).

Leg Three Rankings at 18:25 UTC
1. Team Malizia, distance to finish, 157.2 nm
2. Holcim-PRB, distance to lead, 66.3 nm
3. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 490.5 nm
4. Biotherm, distance to lead, 604.5 nm
GUYOT environnement – withdrawn from Leg 3

Race detailsRouteTrackerTeamsContent from the boatsYouTube

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

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