Lead change in The Ocean Race

Published on May 4th, 2023

(May 4, 2023; Day 12) – The German-flagged Team Malizia has moved into the lead on leg 4 of The Ocean Race as skipper Will Harris and his crew charge north, marching nearly in lockstep with the previous leader, 11th Hour Racing Team.

Conditions are favorable for high-speed sailing; reaching across the easterly wind in 15-20 knots of pressure, with a moderate, but building, sea state.

The leaders are pushing towards a 575-mile run over the past 24 hours. Earlier in The Ocean Race, this would have been a record-setting day. But now it’s about 20 miles short and the increasing sea state probably means the record of 595.6 nautical miles – set by Team Holcim-PRB last leg – won’t be broken.

“It’s getting bouncy at the moment, but the good news is that we’ve caught up with 11th Hour Racing Team,” Harris said. “It would be great if we can leave the trade winds and go into the final part of the leg at least on a level playing field with them.”

The leading teams will be moving into a new phase of the leg in the next 24 hours or so and as the wind rotates south they will gybe. Then it will be a matter of picking through the weather systems on the approach to Newport.

As they charge due north today, the conditions are changing quickly. Life on board is more comfortable with the temperature dropping after the heat and humidity of the equator.

“Things are getting a little more bearable onboard, temperature wise. It’s fast sailing but the sea state is getting gradually worse,” said Simon Fisher on 11th Hour Racing Team. “We’re happy pushing forward at between 20-25 knots, we’ve had a good battle with Team Malizia…”

“We are on the bus to Newport,” is the way Biotherm skipper Paul Meilhat described things, from 50 miles south of the leading pair. “But the conditions are not classic. We are a bit further east which means at the end, in a few days, we will have some upwind, westerly conditions to get to Newport.”

Further back, GUYOT envrionnement – Team Europe is also up to pace, but still nearly a full day behind and in the tropical heat as Annie Lush laments. “The doldrums weren’t too bad,” she said. “We never completely stopped. Now we’re reaching, on the foils, averaging upwards of 20 knots. Much better. It’s still ridiculously hot, it’s just baking inside the boat.”

Relief will come soon as they push north at speed, looking for an opportunity to close what is now a 300-mile gap.

Leg Four Rankings at 19:00 UTC*
1. Team Malizia, distance to finish, 1838.5 nm
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 1.0 nm
3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 28.7 nm
4. GUYOT environnement, distance to lead, 257.7 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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