Southerly shuffle for The Ocean Race

Day 9 – One day can make a big difference in The Ocean Race. In fact, just a few hours can turn what had been a winning hand in the South Atlantic into something doubtful.

That’s been the case for GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, who gambled on an easterly line-up for the doldrums and appeared to have made a big gain in the process.

But just a couple days after escaping the clutches of the light winds around the equator, the GUYOT environnement team found itself under a tricky, local weather event that has seen them sailing much slower than their opposition for most of this morning (UTC).

While all of the fleet is slowing from the champagne tradewind conditions of the past 24 hours, none have been impacted more than GUYOT environnement – Team Europe who appear to have run out of luck in the east.

“We have had some big maneuvers in the past hours. We changed the head sail from J0 and J3 to the J2 to sail with it for a few hours,” Sébastien Simon reported from on board.

“We are fighting, we are fighting for every mile,” added skipper Robert Stanjek.

According to Simon, the problem is the ‘long arm’ of the St. Helena High – an area of light winds directly between the fleet and Cape Town.

The St. Helena High is the reason the fleet is racing south so close to the coast of Brazil, rather than down the African coast or on a more direct, shorter route to the Cape Town finsih. The distance the high pressure system extends out from Africa into the South Atlantic changes constantly – at the moment GUYOT environnement appears to be on the edge of the light patch.

Although the tracker (as of 1300 UTC) is still showing a slender lead to Stanjek and his crew, that’s based more on their closer distance to Cape Town than the tactical reality of the race, where it appears Team Holcim-PRB, as the most southerly positioned boat, is the leading contender.

Come aboard Team Holcim-PRB for some tradewind sailing: click here

Sailor Tom Laperche says his team is focused on sailing fast and getting the most out of the conditions: “It’s good conditions to go fast in an IMOCA. We are reaching, the wind is still good, but it is decreasing a bit now. It is going to keep decreasing and shifting behind us. So we will be more downwind for the next days.”

Every team in the chasing pack – Biotherm, 11th Hour Racing Team, and Team Malizia – is hopeful that as the wind eases and shifts, so too does the advantage to those further west. The next 48 hours will reveal the outcome.

Along with the challenging strategy is the warmth as Amory Ross on 11th Hour Racing Team describes: “Onboard temps are at an all-time high while conditions for outdoor boating are perfect. We’ll get to do none of that! But we are fully protected from the sun and that has been a really nice development.

“Usually by now everyone’s completely cooked, chapped, covered in long layers and big hats and buffs, head to toe in sunscreen and full of salt and sun rash. Nobody is missing that. Our protective roof has given plenty of shade, and we’ve just learned to accept the inferno of stale, steamy air.

“Life is all about compromises. This part of the world is always going to be hot one way or another. All you need to do is look at the suggested routes taking us south to the ice gates where we’ll soon all be really cold!”

Leg Two Rankings at 1300 UTC
1. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, distance to finish, 2986.5 miles
2. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to lead, 3.5 miles
3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 38.3 miles
4. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 80.7 miles
5. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 168.1 miles

With race management predicting a 14-15-day passage time for Leg 2, the leading boats are expected to arrive in Cape Town on or around February 8 or 9.


Charlie ENRIGHT (USA) Skipper
Amory ROSS (USA) – OBR

Paul MEILHAT (FRA) – Skipper

Kevin ESCOFFIER (FRA) – Skipper

Robert STANJEK (GER) – skipper
Sébastien SIMON (FRA)
Anne-Claire LE BERRE (FRA)

Will HARRIS (GBR) – skipper
Rosalin KUIPER (NED)
Nicolas LUNVEN (FRA)
Antoine AURIOL (FRA) – OBR

Leg One Results

1. Team Holcim-PRB, winner leg one, finished – 5d 11h 01m 59s
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, finished – 5d 13h 50m 45s
3. Team Malizia, finished – 5d 16h 35m 21s
4. Biotherm, finished – 6d 8h 47m
5. GUYOT environnement-Team Europe, finished – 6d 12h 20m 37s

1. WindWhisper Racing, finished – 5d 16h 35m 21s
2. Team JAJO, finished – 6d 4h 52m 52s
3. Austrian Ocean Racing-Team Genova, finished – 6d 19h 13m 54s
4. Ambersail 2, finished – 6d 21h 49m 04s
5. Viva Mexico, finished – 8d 13h 50m 25s
6. Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team – Retired from leg

IMOCA: Boat, 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 start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 start: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 start: February 26 or 27 (TBC)
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 start: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 start: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 start: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 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.

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: The Ocean Race

Published on February 2nd, 2023


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