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Cherry on top for 11th Hour Racing Team

Published on July 1st, 2023

Genova, Italy (July 1, 2023) – 11th Hour Racing Team won today’s In-Port Race, the final battle of The Ocean Race 2023, bagging the US team the top spot in the overall In-Port Race Series. The US-flagged team adds the In-Port Race Series trophy to the overall Ocean Race trophy – the first time an American team has won the round the world marathon in the 50-year history of the race.

11th Hour Racing Team knew they had to finish no more than two places behind Team Malizia – their only rival for the top spot of the In-Port Race Series – to win the short course trophy.

In light and tricky conditions in the Gulf of Genoa, with a sea breeze of just 4-5 knots, the four teams crawled across the start line. “We normally do a reaching course, but the wind wasn’t really playing ball for the Race Committee,” commented Navigator Simon Fisher (GBR).

“So we started on a run, which made it a little bit more tactical and interesting to sail. We didn’t have the greatest of starts because the wind really did shut down just before the starting gun went off, but our pace was good and we rounded the first mark in third.

“The course was then shortened so we didn’t make one full lap of the course, but with the pressure from the shore, we were able to extend a lead and Charlie did a really nice job of gliding us through the finish line to snatch the win from Malizia right at the very end. A really nice job by everyone on a very light and tricky day.”

11th Hour Racing Team took the win, finishing ahead of Team Malizia in second, Biotherm in third, and Team Holcim-PRB in fourth.

“It was a complicated day out there with not a lot of wind, a pretty whacky racecourse, and not the greatest start for us,” said skipper Charlie Enright (USA) . “But I think that the performance was pretty typical of our team, you know? We kept fighting and took the opportunity when it presented itself. Today was probably a case of better lucky than good but I guess when you are rolling you are rolling, so I’ll take it!

“It’s a fairy tale ending to what has been a great experience for this whole campaign.”

Trimmer Francesca Clapcich (ITA) became the first Italian to ever win The Ocean Race in the 50-year history of the round the world marathon. Speaking on the dock as she waved to the thousands of spectators on shore, the double-Olympian from Trieste, couldn’t hide her emotions.

“I think one more time we have shown how resilient as a team we are. We knew that Genova can bring some tricky conditions, especially this time of year, and we never gave up and worked hard between the five of us, with good communication all the way to the end. Even when it is hard we shine pretty good.

“I almost can’t believe what a day it has been – it has been incredibly special. I spent ten years in the Italian Air Force, and on the water today we were joined by the Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian Naval Academy Tall Ship, and the Frecce Tricolori – the Italian Air Force’s aerobatic display team. It was such an impressive sight.

“To be here, to win The Ocean Race in the country I have represented all my life and competed for in two Olympic Games, and with a team under an American flag, where I live with my wife – it’s like both my worlds are colliding. I thought I could handle the emotions, but they are just bursting out today.”

For Simon Fisher – a two-time winner of The Ocean Race, the win today marked the end of his sixth round the world campaign. “I think if you ask anyone on the team, they will tell you that we were determined we put our stamp on the In-Port Race Series today, as well as the overall leaderboard.

“It was important, not only because it serves as a tie-breaker for the overall series, but because of everything that happened in The Hague; we really wanted to come back strong and sail a good race. It is a fantastic achievement that we got the win today and wrapped up the In-Port Series as well; it hammers home that we have been the best team in the race.”

Trimming onboard Mālama was Jack Bouttell, another two-time winner of The Ocean Race, and now with back-to-back wins. “Today was the cherry on the top – it was a really nice way to finish the campaign. As amazing as the last leg was, finishing the race in the way we did with the redress hearing, it has been frustrating not to be able actually to race the boat.

“Winning the In-Port Race today, and the In-Port Race Series, was a really nice way to finish it off, back out on the water, sailing well, and bringing home the win. It’s been a cool end to an incredible race.”

The Ocean Race In-Port Series Final Leaderboard (IMOCA)
1. 11th Hour Racing Team – 29 points
2. Team Malizia – 25 points
3. Biotherm – 19 points
4. Team Holcim-PRB – 17 points
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe – 10 points

VO65 In-Port Race Report
The VO65s took to the race course first on this last day of The Grand Finale in Genova, in light winds of 3 to 6 knots.

As the seconds counted down to the start, all five teams were looking late on their time-on-distance judgement. Bearing in mind how an extra metre at the start can turn into hundreds of metres of advantage further along the race track, it was a missed opportunity for everyone.

Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team (DEN/POR) was looking in a solid and safe position at the windward end of the line and accelerated up to speed nicely.

WindWhisper Racing Team (POL) has tended to dominate the pin end of the line but this time skipper Pablo Arrarte was beaten to the punch by Team JAJO (NED). Jelmer van Beek looked vulnerable initially, but he had the advantage of being the most leeward boat.

This enabled van Beek to turn away from the breeze by an extra couple of degrees, breathing extra power into the sails on a day when every ounce of additional oomph was vital.

Team JAJO began to stretch its early advantage, as WindWhisper Racing Team started to slip into the backwash of the big VO65 rig ahead of them.

The Dutch led around the first mark, followed by Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team whose windward start had served Roberto Bermúdez de Castro and his crew well. Next around were Austrian Ocean Racing / Team Genova but finding a better puff of wind behind them were Viva México who capitalised on a deeper downwind angle to get inside rights at the next turning mark.

Erik Brockmann’s team gybed the Mexican boat nicely on the inside of Gerwin Jansen and the Austrians and México sneaked into third place as they set out on the third leg of the course.

Meanwhile WindWhisper had struggled to find clear air on the first leg out of the start, and really struggled to get around the first mark. The Polish team furled its headsail as it luffed up towards the breeze in a desperate bid to avoid hitting the mark. Arrarte and Co. did indeed avoid the mark but now had to play catch-up. There was a slim possibility of the dominant Polish team losing their In-Port Race crown to Team JAJO if Arrarte failed to finish inside the time limit.

With the wind looking unlikely to improve and, if anything, get even lighter, the race committee shortened the race course after 30 minutes of competition. Team JAJO finished exactly 60 seconds ahead of Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team, with the Mexicans third, Austria fourth and WindWhisper bringing up the rear but well inside the time limit.

This means WindWhisper narrowly retains the top of the In-Port leaderboard despite Team JAJO closing the points gap.

Jelmer van Beek was rightly happy with Team JAJO’s performance which all stemmed from that accurately executed start at the pin end of the line. “A light and tricky day and not much breeze, but we had a really good start. They say you’re only as good as your last race, and we won the last race! It’s nice to finish like this. Time for a holiday now but I love this race, it was a great experience.”

Paolo Mirpuri, founder of the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team, was on board his VO65 for the race and enjoyed the experience: “We had a very good start, the teamwork went well. We managed to keep it close and very happy to get second place today.”

Erik Brockmann was delighted to get another podium finish for Team México in Genova: “Even though it was light it’s always intense. We managed to maintain our position and to overtake a boat and got another podium in Genova. Couldn’t be happier to finish The Ocean Race like this.”

The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint In-Port Series Final Leaderboard
1. WindWhisper Racing Team – 19 points
2. Team JAJO – 17 points
3. Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team – 12 points
4. Viva México – 10 points
5. Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova – 8 points
6. Ambersail 2 – 0 points

Race detailsRouteTrackerScoreboardContent from the boatsYouTube

The Ocean Race IMOCA Final Results
1. 11th Hour Racing Team — 37 points
2. Team Holcim-PRB — 34 points
3. Team Malizia — 32 points
4. Biotherm — 23points
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe — 2 points

The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Final Results
1. WindWhisper Racing Team — 18 points
2. Team JAJO — 14 points
3. Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova — 10 points
4. Viva México — 8 points
5. Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team — 7 points
6. Ambersail 2 — 3 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.

Source: 11th Hour, TOR

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