The Ocean Race leaves doldrums behind

Published on May 3rd, 2023

(May 3, 2023; Day 11) – On The Ocean Race course today, the top three teams are clustered together within 50 miles on the leaderboard, with 11th Hour Racing Team leading Team Malizia and Biotherm. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe is further behind.

Boat speeds are averaging near 22-24 knots and 24-hour runs are now near 500 miles. Tradewind sailing at its best.

But yesterday as the teams were contending with the last vestiges of the doldrums, 11th Hour Racing Team sent through some fascinating insight into the tropical squalls that characterize the area.

To watch the video, click here.

“I think if you ask any sailor in The Ocean Race about the worst thing in the doldrums they would probably say, ‘the squalls’,” said Simon Fisher. “Of course you can get these days of calm that are frustrating, but there is always plenty of action in these squalls with big changes in direction and pressure.”

In the boatfeed video, the team starts preparing for a big wind increase after seeing the speed on Team Malizia, just upwind, increase dramatically. Skipper Charlie Enright is looking out the cockpit bubble at the darkening sky, calling out the distance to the new breeze while Francesca Clapcich works the lines to prepare the sails. As the wind comes on the team makes adjustments and the boatspeed rockets up over 30 knots.

The moment passes, more adjustments are made, the race continues.

“It’s really tricky conditions,” confirms Team Malizia’s Will Harris. “The wind is up and down and we have to trim all the time… You have to stay very focused otherwise the boat kind of jumps and loses control or you end up going very slowly.”

Now, for the most part, the teams have left the unstable conditions of the doldrums behind, coming through the crossing in good shape.

“None of the boats really stopped. It was all relatively moderate. We only had a lapse once when we did two circles under a big cloud. But apart from that, we made good time through the doldrums with 6 to 8 knots of wind,” reported GUYOT envrionnement – Team Europe co-skipper Robert Stanjek.

According to race meteorologist Christian Dumard, all the teams will be in the East-Northeast tradewinds by this evening (UTC) and those conditions will last for 48 hours or so, when the wind is forecast to rotate south and then southwest.

In less than a week, teams will be thinking about the final approach to the finish in Newport (ETA May 10), but long-range the weather forecast looks unsettled and complex. There are still several transitions to navigate that will give tactical opportunities.

Meanwhile, back in Brazil, the Team Holcim-PRB IMOCA was lifted onto a cargo ship last night, which then departed Rio for the United States this morning.

“It was a big day for the team,” said skipper Kevin Escoffier as he helped to manage the operation. “We had to work on so many details in order to load our IMOCA on this cargo ship, for it to be as in Newport as early as possible. Let’s say it is 15 days to Newport… So we will have a very short time before the start of leg 5 to get the replacement mast fitted.”

Leg Four Rankings at 22:00 UTC*
1. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to finish, 2256.2 nm
2. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 15.0 nm
3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 66.4 nm
4. GUYOT environnement, distance to lead, 310.1 nm
* Holcim-PRB, retired (dismasted)

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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