The Ocean Race: Leading close quarters

Published on April 28th, 2023

(April 28, 2023; Day 6) – It’s been a long speed contest for the four IMOCA racing to the northeast, away from the Brazilian coast. For over 24 hours The Ocean Race competitors had been close to the wind on port tack, heading offshore.

As The Ocean Race meteorologist Christian Dumard notes, “Very shifty and unstable upwind conditions.” But over the next 48 hours, the teams will need to transition into building easterly trade winds which should carry them up to the doldrums.

In these conditions, speed is king and the fleet has closed up, with all four boats within 10 miles on the tracker leaderboard.

“It’s likely to be gusty but generally quite light,” said Alan Roberts on Biotherm. “We have Malizia just a mile away, and GUYOT a bit further back and 11th Hour Racing just up in front of us.

“The fleet has been compressing for the last few hours and I think it’s going to continue to do so. These next hours are going to be key to get into the new breeze and starting the next phase of the race which is going to be reaching up the Brazilian coast.”

As the boats sail away from the coast they are leaving two exclusion zones behind, a couple for some big oil fields that include a lot of installations and commercial traffic and one just off the coast, marking the Abrolhos Bank, a known area for marine mammals.

Damian Foxall on the 11th Hour Racing Team sent some notes back on the reasons behind some of the nature-specific exclusion zones, including this one, “We have one here called the Abrolhos Bank which is one of the zones where up to 25,000 southern right whales and humpbacks come to from Antarctica, where the warmer waters are, and to breed. We are a month away from this activity but just to be safe, the organizers have defined this exclusion zone for us to sail around.”

Meanwhile, Team Holcim-PRB has come up with a plan to sail the boat to Rio, under jury rig, where they will fit a spare mast and rejoin the race. The logistics and timings behind this operation are complicated.

But with support from the experts on the GAC Pindar operations team, Kevin Escoffier’s crew and shore team are working on multiple potential solutions to get the mast from Lorient, France, to Rio in the most efficient way that will support a very tight timeline. The shore crew will help fit the new mast and the team intends to finish Leg 4 to collect at least one point and maintain its position at the top of the overall race rankings.

You can see the team working on the jury rig using the outriggers and boom and the storm jib here. Escoffier and his Holcim-PRB team hope to reach Rio tomorrow using this configuration. Read more about the team’s plans to rejoin the race here.

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

Leg Four Rankings at 20:00 UTC*
1. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to finish, 4172.6 nm
2. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 6.4 nm
3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 20.9 nm
4. GUYOT environnement, distance to lead, 21.5 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

comment banner

Tags: ,

Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.