Ocean Race – Malizia into the lead as teams speed north

Will Harris and his Malizians have edged in front of 11th Hour Racing Team as teams push towards speed records

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 favourable 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.

The latest positions are on the Race Tracker

The latest news is at www.theoceanrace.com

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