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Penultimate leg for The Ocean Race

Published on June 8th, 2023

Aarhus, Denmark (June 8, 2023) – The Ocean Race returned to full strength as the IMOCA fleet was rejoined by the VO65 teams for the European legs. Officially deemed Leg 6, racing got underway on a beautiful afternoon – sunny skies, warm temperatures, light sea breeze… really light.

First off were the five VO65s returning to race in the second stage of the VO65 Sprint after a three month sabbatical. With two legs of racing left, the VO65 leaderboard is wide open and the stage to The Hague is an important opportunity to collect points. The ETA for the finish is June 11.

As the afternoon turned to evening it would be the IMOCA fleet on point for an 18:15 start, with the race around the world still wide-open – 11th Hour Racing Team is in pole position, but only one point clear of Team Holcim-PRB. The early evening conditions were extremely light for the IMOCA start, with a new breeze just starting to fill in as the fleet finally left Aarhus behind.

The IMOCA flee includes a course towards Germany for the Kiel Fly-By, expected to attract over 100,000 visitors and 1,000 boats to the Kiel Fjord tomorrow with an ETA of mid-afternoon before pushing back north towards the finish in The Hague, Netherlands.

IMOCA leg 6 – start report
Two hours after the VO65s had left Aarhus the 10 knot breeze died to just 2-4 knots as the southeasterly sea breeze fought against the northwesterly gradient. This was frustrating and stressful for the IMOCA fleet for their start to a leg that already promises to be extremely challenging, especially during the next 24 hours through the Fly-By in Kiel.

With such light conditions all five teams were aiming to minimize maneuvers which led to a slow drag race into the line, but there was plenty of excitement.

At the committee boat end Team Malizia (GER) were playing an aggressive tactical game with Team Holcim-PRB (SUI) that resulted in Holcim-PRB diving behind the German boat before pushing Malizia over the starting line early, forcing them to restart behind the fleet.

Meanwhile, it was 11th Hour Racing Team and Biotherm that made the best starts with Team Holcim PRB close behind.

By the first mark 11th Hour Racing Team had extended their lead over Biotherm with Team Holcim-PRB in third. Further back Malizia had overtaken GUYOT environnement – Team Europe.

On the third leg of this square configuration course what wind there was swung through 40 degrees turning the reach into an upwind leg.

Half way down this leg the breeze dropped even further, switching in direction before then dying altogether. As all five boats struggled to make any progress the stress only increased among the teams. All teams knew that in these conditions the first to get the breeze are often able to take a jump on the fleet. The waiting game was nerve wracking.

Slowly, the gradient breeze came in off the land from the north west and when it did the leader board changed as GUYOT environnement – Team Europe overtook Team Malizia.

So, as the fleet cleared the leaving gate and headed out on the leg towards Kiel it was 11th Hour Racing Team that led the field, Biotherm second, Team Holcim-PRB third, with GUYOT fourth and Malizia just behind in fifth.

The finish in The Hague is expected on June 11.

Leg Six Rankings at 20:35 UTC
1. Holcim-PRB, distance to finish, 769.3 nm
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 0.2 nm
3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 0.5 nm
4. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 1.0 nm
5. GUYOT environnement, distance to lead, 1.4 nm

VO65 Sprint – start report
Having dominated both previous in port races the pressure was on Pablo Arrarte’s WindWhisper Racing Team (POL) to deliver a repeat performance for Stage 2 of the VO65 Sprint.

In contrast to the very light conditions earlier in the week when they last raced, the breeze was 10 knots across the course at start time.

At the start, WindWhisper Racing Team jumped the gun and were forced to return back to re-start. Gerwin Jansen’s Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova (AUT/ITA) were penalised for an infringement at the start and had to take a penalty, sliding back behind the fleet.

This left Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team (DEN) and Team JAJO (NED) to lead the field along the first leg with Viva México (MEX) in third.

At the first mark it was Team JAJO that rounded ahead with Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team close on their stern.

After the second lap and as the fleet headed off to the northeast on the start of the offshore leg, it was Team Jajo that had not only held onto their lead but extended it to more than 400m.

Behind them the competition was close with Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team in second, Viva México in third with WindWhisper Racing Team nipping at their heels in fourth and Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova in fifth as the fleet passed through the final inshore gate.

From there it was north into the late afternoon sun.

Leg Six Rankings at 20:35 UTC
1. WindWhisper Racing, distance to finish, 772.4 nm
2. Team JAJO, distance to lead, 0.1 nm
3. Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team, distance to lead, 0.6 nm
4. Viva Mexico, distance to lead, 1.9 nm
5. Austrian Ocean Racing – Team Genova, distance to lead, 2.5 nm
6. Ambersail 2, Did Not Start

Leg 6: From Aarhus, Denmark to a mark at Kiel, Germany and then back up and around the top of Denmark to the finish in The Hague, The Netherlands (800nm)
Leg 7: From The Hague, Netherlands, down the coast of western Europe, though the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean Sea for the finish in Genova, Italy (2200nm)

Race detailsRouteTrackerScoreboardContent from the boatsYouTube

IMOCA Overall Leaderboard (after 5 of 7 legs)
1. 11th Hour Racing Team — 28 points
2. Team Holcim-PRB — 27 points
3. Team Malizia — 24 points
4. Biotherm — 17 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.

Held every three or four years since 1973, 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.

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