Team Holcim-PRB loses mast off Brazil

Published on April 27th, 2023

(April 27, 2023; Day 5) – After trading first places with 11th Hour Racing Team in the first days of racing, misfortune struck on Team Holcim-PRB this morning as the overall leader lost their mast.

Team Holcim-PRB skipper Kevin Escoffier has reported his team is safe after dismasting during leg 4 of The Ocean Race. Team Holcim-PRB was racing approximately 20 miles off the coast of Brazil in moderate winds and sea state.

The dismasting occurred just after 0500 UTC (0200 local time) on April 27, on the fourth day of leg 4. Team Holcim-PRB, the overall race leader, was in the lead at the time, 9 miles ahead of 11th Hour Racing Team.

Since the dismasting of the IMOCA Holcim-PRB this morning between Itajai and Newport, the crew and shore team haven’t lost one second. The disappointment is strong for Kevin Escoffier, Benjamin Schwartz, Fabien Delahaye and Annemieke Bes, but they all quickly turned their attention to the next step and looked for solutions.

In constant contact with the entire shore team, they were able to analyze all the possibilities to get back into the race as quickly as possible. “We were in the lead with this new crew that joined us at the start of Itajaí. We are looking for the best solution to get back in the race as soon as possible.

“The shore team has been working very hard since the dismasting to get us to Newport or the next leg as soon as possible. We worked all night to get as many things as possible back on board: the outriggers, the mast, the boom, the sails, the J2 are on board. I’m happy that we were able to do this last night, but of course I’m also deeply saddened by what happened. That’s life” said Kevin Escoffier.

The mast broke, according to the first analyses, following the breakage of a J2 swivel (headsail of about 100m2 on a forestay). The breakage of this attachment system caused the spar to fall backwards onto the cockpit. The mast broke into several pieces but the crew did not notice any major damage to the cockpit or the whole boat. Exceptional images were captured by a camera installed on top of the mast and by the onboard reporter, Georgia Schofield.

Kevin Escoffier’s goal is now to reach a port to recover and install a new mast. The IMOCA class has a replacement mast in Lorient and it is this mast that will equip Holcim-PRB for the rest of the race. At the end of the day, Kevin and his team decided to sail under jury rig to Rio de Janeiro.

The rules of The Ocean Race allow for stops for repairs. Once the monohull has been repaired, the crew will have to reach the GPS point where the dismasting occurred and will be able to continue this Leg 4 to Newport while racing. The crew could make landfall within 48 hours.

It is thus in a real race against the clock in which the whole team of the Holcim-PRB project is launched. “In one second you go from “everything is fine” to a nightmare. I’ve said from the beginning of The Ocean Race that at some point we’re bound to run into a problem. It’s not about the type of problem, it’s about how we overcome it. We’re going to work hard to get back in the race”, said the skipper.

Thanks to its great start to the race (two victories and a second place leg), Holcim-PRB had a solid lead in the rankings up until then. If the team manages to get back into the race and finish this leg in Newport, it will score at least one point. With this extra point, the team will be assured of keeping the lead in the overall standings. Everyone in the project wants to believe in it. The anthem chosen by the crew for The Ocean Race, the song “Unstoppable” by Sia, has never been so well named.

Elsewhere on the water, 11th Hour Racing Team has moved up one place to take the lead, with Team Malizia just 10 miles behind and Biotherm close as well. GUYOT envrionnement Team Europe is 30 miles in arrears, but holding pace over the past 24 hours.

“Everything is nice on board,” reported Francesca Clapcich on 11th Hour Racing Team. “But it’s really hot on board, really hard to sleep, but when you’re tired somehow you get a few hours. It’s nice to be on deck, fresh air, not too wet.”

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

Leg Four Rankings at 14:00 UTC*
1. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to finish, 4320.5 nm
2. Team Malizia,distance to lead, 9.5 nm
3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 10.7 nm
4. GUYOT environnement, distance to lead, 17.5 nm
Holcim-PRB – suspended racing
* 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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