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Thread: Leg 3 Gets Underway In Fine Fashion

  1. #1
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    Leg 3 Gets Underway In Fine Fashion

    A fast start with a long, interesting leg ahead from Alicante to Genova



    Conditions were ideal for the start of Leg 3 with the IMOCAs putting on a foiling spectacle as the VO65 fleet split, setting up an early tactical battle...

    The third and final offshore leg of The Ocean Race Europe got underway today in Alicante, Spain where the 12-boat international fleet of yachts representing nine countries and crewed by sailors from around the world set off into the Mediterranean bound for Genova, Italy.

    The Ocean Race Europe fleet arrived in Alicante on Wednesday June 9 after a three-day second leg two from Cascais, Portugal, having previously raced there from Lorient, France on leg one.

    In contrast to the predominantly breezy conditions the crews experienced on the first two legs the weather forecast for leg three calls for light winds throughout the 600-nautical mile (nm) / 1,100-kilometre (km) passage to Genova.

    The points spread among the top three teams in both the VO65 and IMOCA 60 classes could not be closer as the fleet left Alicante for the final offshore stage on the new professional yachting event.

    In the seven-boat VO65 class Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team (POR) and AkzoNobel Ocean Racing (NED) are in first and second, tied on 11 points, with Sailing Team Poland (POL) in third, just one point behind.

    Remarkably, the scores in the five-boat IMOCA 60 class are even tighter, with the top three teams – LinkedOut (FRA), Offshore Team Germany (GER) and 11th Hour Racing Team (USA) – all sitting on nine points.



    TRACKER





    Although the focus may be mainly on the podium teams, there are several other crews in either class with enough points to challenge for overall victory, given a strong performance on the leg to Genova.

    With so much resting on the outcome of leg three, the atmosphere on the pontoons in Alicante was understandably tense as the crews left for the final stage of the three-week event.

    “It’s going to be tight all the way to the end,” said Thomas Ruyant, the skipper of LinkedOut, the nominal leader in IMOCA. “The race likely won’t even be decided on this leg, but on the coastal race in Genova.”

    Adding to the pressure, particularly for the skippers and navigators, was the uncertainty of the weather forecasts for the coming week. Even as the boats left the dock there was no clear indication of which side of the three Balearic Islands – Ibiza, Mallorca, and Minorca – the fleet should pass.

    “There are options to the far right, the far left, even in the middle,” Ruyant continued. “It will be hard work for the navigation options for sure.”

    “It’s going to be very tricky,” confirmed Spanish navigator Juan Vila - an America’s Cup and around the world racer who has been drafted in by the Viva Mexico VO65 crew for leg three.

    “There’s a big decision to make whether to go south or north of the Balearic Islands and when to cross a ridge of high pressure – that’s basically light winds – around Ibiza and Mallorca,” Vila said.

    “There could be some big splits north and south as the [weather] models keep changing their minds – one day they tell you to go north, the next day they tell you to go south. So we will just have to see what we get.”



    all images © © Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race






    Third-placed in the VO65s, Sailing Team Poland skipper Bouwe Bekking (NED) said his team were up for the challenge on a leg which he believed would not be decided until finish line in Genova.

    “It’s going to be a long race, but it’s going to be fun too,” Bekking said “We know the score is wide open and lots of teams can end up on the leader board in Genova.

    Simon Fisher, the British navigator with the American 11th Hour Racing Team, said the IMOCA fleet would have to choose between trying to find gradient wind out to sea, or rely on picking up thermal winds closer to land.

    “Do we use the gradient to try and make as much progress as possible, and then see what develops?” Fisher said. “Or do we commit early on to dealing with sea breezes and land breezes? That [the second option] is obviously going to be a messy and fairly long affair, battling up the coast.

    “So I think it's going to be an interesting leg and looking at how the different teams decide to deal with, that's going to be fascinating.”

    Among the local dignitaries in attendance on the dock in Alicante to wish the sailors safe passage to Italy were: Alicante mayor Luis Barcala; Carmen Sánchez, Alicante vice-mayor and tourism city hall counsellor; Arcadi España, Valencia regional government counsellor – territorial policy, public works and mobility; Carolina Pascual, Valencia regional government counsellor – innovation, universities, science and digital society; Lyra Puisyte-Bostoem, Lithuanian ambassador, Antonio Rhodes, SPTCV director general.

    Throughout the Alicante stopover the teams and race organisers have been operating under a strict Covid 19 protocol designed and managed by Spanish company Quirónprevención of the Quirónsalud group to ensure the safety of the competitors and race staff for the entire race.









    The course for leg three took the fleet away from the start line off the Alicante city front, first upwind to the Alicante exit mark where the yachts bore away towards mark two, located off the nearby Tabarca Island. From there the crews are now free to choose their own fastest routes north through the Mediterranean to Genova.

    Conditions were near perfect with 8-12 knots of breeze and sunny skies as the VO65 class set off first at 1300 CEST / 1100 UTC, followed 20 minutes later by the five IMOCA 60s.

    In the VO65s AkzoNobel Ocean Racing made the best of the first beat, taking an inshore route that saw them lead at the Alicante exit mark, with Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Team in second and Viva Mexico third.

    In the IMOCA 60 class Robert Stanjek’s Offshore Team Germany (GER) took full advantage of their non-foiling configuration to rocket up the first beat to lead at the Alicante exit mark from 11th Hour Racing Team (USA), skippered by Charlie Enright, in second, and Louis Burton’s Bureau Vallée (FRA) in third.

    But as soon as the foiling IMOCAs were able to hit their angle, and lift out of the water, the Germans were left behind. Stanjek and his crew can take solace in the fact that light, upwind conditions are forecast to return soon.

    Based on the forecast for predominantly light winds the crews are expected to take up to four days to complete the course, and are estimated arrive in Genoa on Thursday June 17.

    The final points scoring opportunity of The Ocean Race Europe will be a coastal sprint race in Genova scheduled to take place on Saturday June 19 when bonus points will be awarded to the top three finishers in each class.

    With the leaderboard so close, it is likely this coastal race will be decisive in determining the winners of the inaugural edition of The Ocean Race Europe.

    Follow the racing on our live tracker at www.theoceanrace.com


    The Ocean Race Europe - Overall leaderboard (after Leg 2)

    IMOCA
    1. LinkedOut -- 9 points
    2. Offshore Team Germany -- 9 points
    3. 11th Hour Racing Team -- 9 points
    4. CORUM L' Epargne -- 6 points
    5. Bureau Vallée -- 3 points

    VO65
    1. Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team -- 11 points
    2. AkzoNobel Ocean Racing -- 11 points
    3. Sailing Poland -- 10 points
    4. The Austrian Ocean Race Project -- 9 points
    5. Team Childhood I -- 8 points
    6. AmberSail-2 -- 7 points
    7. Viva México -- 5 points
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    Slow Going For Fast Boats

    Breakaway moves deliver mixed results in The Ocean Race Europe


    It’s a light air chess game on the Mediterranean as IMOCA and VO65 fleets split and play high stakes game of risk and reward




    The 12 international teams competing in The Ocean Race Europe have been dealing with light and incalcitrant breezes on their first night at sea after setting off yesterday on the inaugural event’s third and final leg from Alicante, Spain to Genova, Italy.

    Pre-start weather forecasts predicted light winds throughout the leg and overnight the five-boat IMOCA 60 and seven-boat VO65 fleets made slow progress away from Alicante with boat speeds rarely breaking 10 knots in the benign conditions.

    Despite the slow pace of the action sailing fans have been glued to the race tracker after breakaway moves from two teams have split both fleets as they pass the Balearic island chain, made up of Ibiza, Mallorca, and Minorca, today.

    In the IMOCA 60s, the crew of Robert Stanjek’s non-foiling Offshore Team Germany (GER) made an early commitment to taking a northern route by tacking away immediately after rounding the final mark of the course off the Tabarca islet, close to Alicante.

    “The need to stay in the breeze that we have means that we’re not always sailing the optimum heading,” said Annie Lush from Offshore Team Germany. “But it’s been about finding an angle that works for the wind we have.”













    Likewise, in the VO65s, when it was clear that the bulk of the fleet was positioned to pass south of Ibiza, the Dutch-flagged Team Childhood-I skippered by double America’s Cup-winner Simeon Tienpont (NED) chose to stay north of the rhumb line course in search of better winds. It didn’t pay immediate dividends.

    “We went through a very light night, yesterday wasn’t really our plan to pick the shore but we felt it was good to play this side for a little longer,” explained Tienpont. “By then we were committed to a route to the north while the rest went south.

    “We have a lot less wind than them at the moment, but they still have to cross the light wind area to come up to the north… There are a lot of differences between the weather forecasts, but fingers crossed, we’re here, the fleet is there, and we need to make the best out of it.”

    Today at 1230 UTC/1430 CEST as the teams approach the largest Balearic island, Mallorca – still in painfully light wind conditions – Offshore Team Germany held a healthy 12 nautical miles (nm) / 22 kilometres (km) lead over the remaining four IMOCA 60s – CORUM L’Epargne (FRA), LinkedOut (FRA), 11th Hour Racing Team (USA), and Bureau Vallée (FRA) – who were racing in a tight group about 50nm / 93km south of Mallorca.









    “This is not going to be the fastest leg for sure,” said LinkedOut skipper Thomas Ruyant. “It’s typical Mediterranean conditions and it’s going to be complicated to find the fastest way to Genoa. But we’re staying focused and determined despite the light conditions. It’s a real test of our patience!”

    In the VO65s, as the main group of boats passed by the Cabrera archipelago 5nm / 10km off Mallorca’s south coast – with Bouwe Bekking’s Sailing Team Poland (POL) first, Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team (POR), skippered by Yoann Richomme, second, and Viva Mexico led by Erik Brockmann, third.

    “Mirpuri is right behind us and they have a bit more speed than us so we just have to keep sailing smart,” Bekking said. “It’s just a matter of finding the best pressure lanes. It’s really tricky. There’s a huge high-pressure system and we have to cross that ridge. All in all I’m pretty content with where we are. It’s better to be first than last!”

    Meanwhile, in the north, Team Childhood-I was at the bottom of the table as the crew struggled to find breeze along the island’s northwest coast.

    With wind conditions in the region likely to remain light and fickle for the rest of the week no one can say for sure whether the north or the south route will turn out best by the time the teams arrive in Genova, where they are expected on Thursday.

    More immediately the focus for all the crews will be on somehow keeping their boats moving as they pick their way carefully through the myriad of wind holes strewn across the waters of the Mediterranean overnight.






    TRACKER


    The Ocean Race Europe - Overall leaderboard (after Leg 2)

    IMOCA
    1. LinkedOut -- 9 points
    2. Offshore Team Germany -- 9 points
    3. 11th Hour Racing Team -- 9 points
    4. CORUM L' Epargne -- 6 points
    5. Bureau Vallée -- 3 points

    VO65
    1. Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team -- 11 points
    2. AkzoNobel Ocean Racing -- 11 points
    3. Sailing Poland -- 10 points
    4. The Austrian Ocean Race Project -- 9 points
    5. Team Childhood I -- 8 points
    6. AmberSail-2 -- 7 points
    7. Viva México -- 5 points
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    Slow But Steady In The Med

    Fleets compress as light winds continue on the approach to leg three finish in Genova

    It’s a tense time for the sailors in The Ocean Race Europe as they close in on the finish line with final hurdles ahead





    Another 24 hours of light wind racing out on the Mediterranean on the third and final leg of The Ocean Race Europe has seen both the VO65 and IMOCA 60 fleets compress significantly as they push towards the finish line in Genova, Italy.

    There has been compression in the five boat IMOCA 60 class with the trailing group of four foilers – 11th Hour Racing Team (USA), LinkedOut (FRA), Bureau Vallée (FRA), CORUM L’Épargne (FRA) – all starting to make better progress in new breeze and eating considerably into the leg-long lead established by the non-foiling Offshore Team Germany (GER) skippered by Robert Stanjek (GER).

    At 0000 UTC / 0200 this morning Stanjek and his crew – navigator Benjamin Dutreux (FRA), Annie Lush (GBR), Phillip Kasüske (GER), and their onboard reporter, Felix Diemer (GER) – were 97nm/180km ahead of the pack.


    TRACKER


    This afternoon at 1300 UTC/1500 CEST that lead had nearly been halved, to 58nm/107km as the American-flagged 11th Hour Racing Team – made up of skipper Charlie Enright (USA), past winners of The Ocean Race Pascal Bidégorry (FRA) and Simon Fisher (GBR), Swiss round the world sailor Justine Mettraux, and OBR Amory Ross (USA) – leads a charge from the foilers in new breeze that has seen the yachts accelerate to consistent double-digit speeds for the first time in 48 hours.

    “We’re trying to push hard for sure,” said Stanjek from on board the German boat. “But it's just very tricky on this coastline. Overall, I'm very happy with the sailing on a big lead over the rest of the fleet. We just have to sail our race and bring it home safe. But we have to stay focussed – it’s not a given.”

    “Well, we're sailing these ocean-going machines inside the Mediterranean Sea, so it's very complicated,” said 11th Hour Racing Team’s Charlie Enright. “There's not a lot of wind and they don't go well in not a lot of wind. So you need to squeeze every ounce of performance out of them or you may never get started again if you stop. And we've done more manoeuvres in this leg probably than we have in the rest of the race combined already. So it's really tricky. And you got to stay on your game.”

    There’s more of that to come, with another night of light winds and calm areas forecast before the IMOCA fleet finds its way to Genova on Thursday.








    But further ahead, the seven VO65s continue to make the best of light to moderate conditions with the entire fleet of identical one-design yachts now within 100 nautical miles (nm) / 185 kilometres (km) of Genova.

    Sailing Team Poland VO65 was still in front on Wednesday afternoon, albeit with a dramatically reduced lead over their nearest rivals, second placed Team Childhood I (NED) and Mirpuri Foundation racing Team (POR) in third.

    The Polish-flagged yacht skippered by Dutch serial around-the-world racer Bouwe Bekking has led the VO65 class for the majority of this third leg from Alicante, Spain and at one point was 27nm/50km ahead of the pack. Since yesterday that advantage has been pegged back to under five nautical miles / nine kilometres.

    With under 60nm/111km still to race to Genova, just 26nm/48km separated the VO65 leader Sailing Team Poland from seventh placed The Austrian Ocean Race Project (AUT). The Polish team’s nearest rivals – Childhood I skippered by Simeon Tienpont (NED), and the Yoann Richomme (FRA)-skippered Mirpuri Foundation Ocean Racing – are respectively four and six nautical miles behind and ready to pounce on any mistake. But with the chances high of a breeze shutdown tonight on the approach to Genova, at this stage none of the chasing fleet can be ruled out of a leg three podium position.

    “We managed to get away from Mallorca and Minorca with the Polish, although they were leading by 10 miles and managed to pull away from the rest of the field by almost you know, 20 miles…” explained Yoann Richomme on board the Mirpuri Foundation boat. “Luck can turn and it’s still a long leg to Genoa.”

    “There’s still a lot to fight for,” said navigator Will Harris with the fourth-placed AkzoNobel Ocean Race. “We've got Poland who were 22-23 miles ahead of us last night, now that’s down to 13 miles. So we'll see kind of how the opportunities come up. But still a whole load of snakes and ladders to play before we get to finish.”

    Latest estimates predict that the earliest arrivals in Genova would be near midnight tonight, but there is significant uncertainty in that ETA. If the wind holds as it is, the leading VO65s could arrive over two hours earlier. But if the wind dies out as forecast, the boats could be drifting, becalmed, within just miles of the finishing line well into the morning hours.














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