Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team retires from leg one, leaving podium open to Austrian-Italian crew
Leg One at 12:00 UTC - 22 January 2023
As Paul Meilhat’s Biotherm (fourth place) and Benjamin Dutreux’s GUYOT environnement - Team Europe (fifth place) completed the IMOCA rankings overnight, the Dutch Team JAJO earned a strong second place finish in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint, behind Poland’s WindWhisper Racing Team who had finished earlier on Saturday with an impressive VO65 class victory.
Dutch skipper Jelmer van Beek led his team across the finishing line at 17:52:52 UTC for a leg time of 6d 4h 52m 52s.
“We struggled a little bit in the first part of the race, we couldn’t keep up with the others, but when we came out of Gibraltar we were getting better and better, sail changes were better, we sailing sharper,” van Beek said. “We can always find a little bit more speed, get a little quicker, but we are happy with a second place finish. It’s really nice to be here in Cabo Verde.”
With the top two positions decided, it appeared Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team would claim third position. But as the team approached Mindelo, it announced it would retire from Leg One after having missed a mark of the race course back in the Gibraltar Strait.
Observant fans of the race tracker will recall the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team boat traced a course to the south of, and into, an exclusion zone, which was also designated as a mark of the race course. By not correcting the error, the team would not have scored points for its efforts in stage one of the race, and elected to retire from the leg before finishing.
A statement from the team read: “… technical issues onboard resulted in us failing to leave the South Gibraltar Exclusion Zone to port as per the racing instructions. As we have missed a mark of the course the team has made the decision to retire from Leg One of The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint 2023.”
“We are very disappointed for this,” admitted skipper Antonio Fontes. “But the crew has done an amazing job getting us out of the Mediterranean in very hard conditions. Then we had the super fast sailing conditions in the Atlantic and it was a lot of fun racing from Gibraltar to here.”
The retirement opened the door to a podium finish for Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova, who were the last team enter The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint and only arrived in the start port of Alicante, Spain days before the beginning of the event.
The fourth VO65 to finish was the Lithuanian-flagged Ambersail 2, arriving on Sunday morning.
That leaves Viva Mexico as the only team still racing. Skipper Erik Brockmann and his team is still 600 miles away from Cabo Verde after stopping in the Spanish port of Almeria to make changes to their mainsail.
With the podium positions decided overnight Friday night - Team Holcim-PRB; 11th Hour Racing Team; Team Malizia - Paul Meilhat’s Biotherm team has been racing to collect one extra point over GUYOT environnement - Team Europe. On Saturday night, the team crossed the finishing line at 23:47:40 to secure fourth place.
“Wow. It was amazing,” said Meilhat. “That was the first time we had all of the crew on board. I tried to take care of the people first and the boat second and we were successful - we are here with no big damage and all of us safe and happy and ready to race again.”
This left Ben Dutreux’s French-German team to finish the course in fifth place.
“Unfortunately we ended up having less wind with our option near the African coast and we needed to gybe out before the left shift arrived. We knew that we played some risk there but it hit us very hard,” wrote Robert Stanjeck on board GUYOT environnement - Team Europe, as the team was flying on foils during the final run to Cabo Verde.
“So we had to regroup and define what we want to achieve in the last two days of leg 1. We shifted our focus on practicing and getting things ready for leg 2. At the moment we are flying with 24 knots downwind in a pleasant sea towards the finish. Can’t wait to get a cold beer!!”
At 02:20 local time early on Sunday morning, he would get his wish, with GUYOT envrionnement - Team Eruope across the finish line to complete the IMOCA results for leg one.
There is no In-port race in Cabo Verde. As a short stopover, teams are highly restricted in how they can operate, with all work on board to be completed by the sailing team.
The start of Leg Two to Cape Town is scheduled for Wednesday 25 January at 17:10 local time (18:10 UTC). Live race coverage will be available on Eurosport and Discovery+ platforms. A full how to follow guide will be available before the start.
Leg One Rankings at 12:00 UTC - 22 January 2023
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
Image: 21 January 2023, Team JAJO, second VO65 arriving to Cabo Verde. Arrival time: 17:57:56 UTC 6 days 3 hours 52 mins 52 seconds.
© Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race