Ocean Race – Repairs and racing along the ice limit

The race continues while each team battles to keep boats operating in racing trim

Following the distribution of points at the scoring gate on Sunday, teams are now consolidating their positions and working through job lists to keep the boats in racing condition.

The Ocean Race 2022-23 - 13 March 2023, Leg 3 onboard 11th Hour Racing Team. A twilight gybe has the cockpit full of lamp light. © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing / The Ocean Race
The Ocean Race 2022-23 – 13 March 2023, Leg 3 onboard 11th Hour Racing Team. A twilight gybe has the cockpit full of lamp light. © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing / The Ocean Race

On Monday evening, 11th Hour Racing Team revealed the latest challenge for their crew to overcome – a badly torn mainsail, along a load-bearing seam of the sail at the first reef point.

“We can’t use the full main or the first reef because of the rip,” explained Jack Bouttell moments after it happened. “It’s quite hard to repair on board, nearly impossible I think, because of where it is in a structural part of the sail.”

But given more time to assess and reflect, skipper Charlie Enright confirmed this team would attempt to do just that – make a repair and keep racing:

“We did just stop and take a look at the yacht and assess and we made the decision as a group to get the boat to Brazil for some TLC as we have a number of things hampering our performance at the moment.

“We talked about stopping, whether in New Zealand or Tasmania, but ultimately decided that we feel safe in proceeding. Given the weather ahead of us there will be some (competitive) opportunities but we’re really racing ourselves right now. We’ll see what the future brings…”

He’s likely referring to another compression in the fleet that is in the current weather forecast and fleet routings to come towards the end of the week.

As happened in the days before the scoring gate, the leading boat will bump into a high pressure ridge with lighter winds and the trailing boats will bring more wind with them. The lighter conditions could be an opportunity for more effective repairs as well.

The Ocean Race 2022-23 - 13 March 2023, Leg 3 onboard Biotherm. During Ian inspection after crossing the scoring gate a crack in the longitudinal structure of the boat was detected. Anthony Marchand and skipper Paul Meilhat applied layers of carbon fibre to repair it. © Ronan Gladu / Biotherm
The Ocean Race 2022-23 – 13 March 2023, Leg 3 onboard Biotherm. During Ian inspection after crossing the scoring gate a crack in the longitudinal structure of the boat was detected. Anthony Marchand and skipper Paul Meilhat applied layers of carbon fibre to repair it. © Ronan Gladu / Biotherm

The Biotherm team is facing issues too, having discovered damage to a longitudinal frame that helps support to the structure of the boat.

“There is a longitudinal frame that has cracked over a span of three meters, so we are looking into how to fix it with the shore team,” said skipper Paul Meilhat in a French interview. “It seems not to be a key structural frame so we’ll have to fix it, but it’s no big deal. It shouldn’t affect the rest of the race and we might only lose a little bit of time. We’re fixing this be we keep going forward – normal but not pushing it too much.”

Team Malizia also had work to complete on Monday.

“We noticed that the foil ram had come loose on the port side – we think from all the shaking around as we pushed full speed to the scoring gate had taken a toll,” said co-skipper Will Harris. “Rosie and Boris spent a few long hours taking the ram off and cleaning up the thread and screwing it back together in a way that it won’t happen again. We also noticed the starboard side was close to coming off as well. So 8 hours of hard work but we managed to fix it and we can carry on in a strong place.”

At the front of fleet, Team Holcim-PRB has generally been a bit quieter about sharing equipment problems they may be facing. But certainly, based on performance, whatever challenges they have aren’t slowing the team down.

A view of the tracker today will reveal the leader has a strategy of staying south, short gybing down the ice exclusion zone in the Furious 50s at about 52-degrees south latitude. But skipper Kevin Escoffier will be looking over his shoulder – the forecast shows the fleet coming together by the end of the week, making for close racing in the second half of leg 3.

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

The latest news is at www.theoceanrace.com and you can follow sailing’s greatest round-the-world challenge on Eurosport with every leg departure live and on-demand on discoveryplus.com or Eurosport.com

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