Ocean Race – Back to the grind

Teams focus on ice limits and Cape Horn after collecting points

It’s back to work Monday for the IMOCA sailors in The Ocean Race.

Following record breaking conditions on Saturday and the leg 3 scoring gate on Sunday, the workaday grind sets in again with Cape Horn still nearly two weeks away.

In case you missed it, on Saturday all four boats blasted past the existing 24 hour distance record for IMOCAs. Subject to ratification by the World Speed Sailing Record Council, the new mark is now held by Team Holcim-PRB, who topped out at 595.26 nautical miles, just a shade off the Race record of 602 nautical miles set by Team AkzoNobel in the last race.

The record-breaking runs were spurred on by highly motivated crews pushing each other hard towards the leg 3 scoring gate as well as near perfect winds and relatively flat sea state.

The Ocean Race 2022-23 - 13 March 2023, Leg 3, Day 15. Holcim-PRB crew established a new Ulysse Nardin 24 hour Speed Record for IMOCA at 595.26 nautical miles (1102 km), obliterating the pre-race mark by 50 miles. © Julien Champolion | polaRYSE / Holcim - PRB
The Ocean Race 2022-23 – 13 March 2023, Leg 3, Day 15. Holcim-PRB crew established a new Ulysse Nardin 24 hour Speed Record for IMOCA at 595.26 nautical miles (1102 km), obliterating the pre-race mark by 50 miles. © Julien Champolion | polaRYSE / Holcim – PRB

On Sunday evening UTC, Kevin Escoffier’s Team Holcim-PRB would be first across the 143 degrees east longitude line, collecting another 5 points and expanding his lead on the points table.

See the push for points story here

“From the start in Cape Town to this scoring gaate I think we’ve done very well to keep the other boats behind us,” Escoffier said. “We’ve also had an amazing 24 hour record. So I’m very happy with the boat, very happy with the crew… and I think we deserve to enjoy, but now it’s back to work.”

Team Malizia was able to sail past 11th Hour Racing Team in a close quarters racing on Sunday to grab second place and earn 4 points at the gate.

“I am so happy, so relieved that we managed to come away with second place,” said co-skipper Will Harris. “It has been such a fight to even still be in the race after having to fix the mast a week and a half ago and not being sure we could continue, and now we are here crossing the line in second. This has been some of the closest offshore racing I have ever done, we crossed 11th Hour Racing within only 200 metres. It is a big relief that we have crossed the line second, we have proved our potential, I can sleep well tonight and then look forward to the Pacific. I am really so happy!”

On the other side of that result in close racing, 11th Hour Racing Team skipper Charlie Enright knew on Sunday he had his hands full trying to fend off Malizia: “These conditions really suit them (Team Malizia). We’ve been doing a nice job, but it’s hard. We’ve been sailing for 5000 miles and it’s going to come down to these last couple hundred.”

11th Hour Racing Team would collect 3 points at the gate to retain second place on the overall leaderboard, but now just a single point ahead of Malizia.

Fourth across the gate, for 2 points, was Biotherm, but nearly immediately, Paul Meilhat’s team vaulted back up the leg 3 tracker rankings.

The team had been too far behind Malizia and 11th Hour Racing Team to engage in a match race for the scoring gate finish and was therefore able to take a longer tactical view, positioning themselves more favourably futher to the south. As Malizia and 11th Hour Racing Team gybed after the gate to get to a similar southerly position, Biotherm was suddenly back in the game.

“We are a bit disappointed of course, as one day before the finish they both got in front of us,” Meilhat said. “But on the other side, we are learning a lot and improving our speed all the time. I always remember that we have been the last boat to launch and so we aren’t at the same level of preparation, so the positive thing is we have sailed across the Indian Ocean and now we have the Pacific ahead of us and this is why we do this race.”

Meilhat went on to say the favourable wind conditions are forecast to last for a couple more days before the fleet bumps up against a high pressure system with much lighter conditions – the next speed bump on the way to Cape Horn.

A special leg 3 scoring gate show is available on Discovery+ and the Eurosport app in European/Asian viewing territories.

The latest positions are on the Race Tracker and the leaderboard is available here

Follow the racing at www.theoceanrace.com and www.eurosport.com/sailing/

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