Weaving weather for The Ocean Race

Published on May 6th, 2023

(May 6, 2023; Day 14) – While the IMOCA fleet is making progress towards The Ocean Race finish line for Leg 4, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

11th Hour Racing Team holds the lead over Team Malizia but the transitions between weather systems have been neither straightforward, nor as per the forecast, making for challenging times.

“We have huge clouds and thunderstorms,” said Chris Pratt on Malizia. “It was supposed to be a cool night in the bunk doing 20 knots reaching. Instead it’s a tough night under the clouds going 15 knots on the other tack!”

Perhaps the team that has had it the worst is Biotherm.

“It’s been very difficult. There was no wind and what little there was would shift around all directions,” said Alan Roberts, looking back at the past 24 hours. “It was really hard. We sailed into a bank of clouds with very little wind from random directions. We did a few 360s trying to keep the boat moving. It was pretty emotional. But we finally found with wind again and now we’re trucking along in the right direction.”

“We were unlucky. It wasn’t on the model,” added skipper Paul Meilhat. “We lost probably 150 miles on the leaders and maybe 100 miles to GUYOT as well. It’s hard to accept but it’s done and now we have to keep fighting. It’s not finished. There are a lot tricks to come still.”

GUYOT environnement – Team Europe were able to close up to Biotherm yesterday but find themselves slipping back again now.

The forecast has the leading pair pushing into northwesterlies, but squalls and thunderstorms should feature heavily today and tomorrow. The challenge continues.

“We just have to try to sail the right direction with the wind we have… even if it’s opposite to the forecast,” concluded Nico Lunven from Team Malizia. Wise words from a navigator who has seen it all before.

The ETA for the leaders is beginning to firm up around May 10 in Newport, RI. But with the conditions on the water being so different from the models, this should still be considered with a little bit of wiggle room.

Leg Four Rankings at 19:19 UTC*
1. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to finish, 1081.9 nm
2. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 9.3 nm
3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 164.0 nm
4. GUYOT environnement, distance to lead, 238.8 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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