Dicey conditions for The Ocean Race

Published on April 25th, 2023

(April 25, 2023; Day 3) – It hasn’t been a straightforward start to leg 4 of The Ocean Race as the IMOCA teams zig-zag away from the coast of Brazil, seeking favorable conditions to the east, whilst keeping an eye on the overall goal of making miles north.

There’s also big picture weather that dictates overall strategy to consider versus the very localized impact of clouds and squalls that must be deal with.

“There’s just a lot of random ‘cloudage’ going on here,” said 11th Hour Racing Team’s Charlie Enright. “And at the moment it’s not going our way.”

That moment may have passed however as the 1900 UTC tracker update has the American team at the top of the table, furthest north, and just bow forward on Team Holcim-PRB and Biotherm as they race east.

“Things are tricky,” said navigator Simon Fisher. “It’s pretty messy. The game is to find our way offshore and find better pressure but it’s a little challenging, with the windshifts.”

“The shifts are up to 50-degrees,” said Kevin Escoffier, on Holcim-PRB. “So even a small tack, maybe half an hour, we need to do something like that (or we lose a lot).”

These shifts are what account for the tracks behind the boats on the race tracker as the fleet takes it in turn to weave up to the north and then to the right towards the more favorable winds offshore to the east.

“There are clouds in front – a dark zone – and the wind is very shifty,” said Seb Simon on GUYOT environnement – Team Europe. “Sometimes it’s a big lift, sometimes a header, sometimes lots of pressure, so it’s hard to keep the speed. But the fleet is close and it’s a huge speed test.”

The teams will be yearning for more stable, stronger conditions as the fleet is yet to make a 200 mile day towards the finish in Newport.

The leg is expected to take up to 17 days, with an ETA around May 9th or 10th.

Leg Four Rankings at 19:00 UTC*
1. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to finish, 4741.6 nm
2. Holcim-PRB, distance to lead, 4.5 nm
3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 10.9 nm
4. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 30.0 nm
5. GUYOT environnement, distance to lead, 39.2 nm
* Until the fleet uniformly aims along the course route, the ranking may be misleading.

Race detailsRouteTrackerTeamsContent from the boatsYouTube

Overall Leaderboard (after 3 of 7 legs)
1. Team Holcim-PRB — 19 points
2. Team Malizia — 14 points
3. 11th Hour Racing Team — 13 points
4. Biotherm — 10 points
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe — 2 points

IMOCA: Name, 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: TOR

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