Team Holcim-PRB remain perfect after record-breaking run
Image: Leg 3, Day 14 onboard Team Holcim - PRB. Drone view. © Julien Champolion | polaRYSE / Holcim - PRB
Two weeks after the start of leg 3 in Cape Town, skipper Kevin Escoffier and his crew mates on Team Holcim-PRB have collected maximum points, leading the IMOCA fleet through the leg 3 scoring gate at 17:45:38 UTC Sunday 12 March.
It's been a profitable 24 hours for the team. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Holcim-PRB crew established a new 24 hour distance record for IMOCA at 595.26 nautical miles (1102 km), obliterating the pre-race mark by 50 miles.
"The rhythm of these last hours of racing has been set by a big push to the scoring gate and this first set of points for leg 3," Escoffier said in a French interview. "We built a big lead early this leg, but the others caught a favourable weather front and there was nearly a re-start a few days ago. But we managed to hold on to a bit of a lead through it all, which we really wanted to keep for the scoring gate.
"Yesterday (Saturday) the sea state was manageable enough that the IMOCA speed records kept falling. For us, we are very happy to get the record even if that wasn't the goal, but an objective towards the goal of leading at the scoring gate. We keep learning about this boat and finding ways to go faster and faster."
By collecting 5 points at the scoring gate, Escoffier and his team remain perfect on the race leaderboard, and now sit on 15 points, following victories in legs 1 and 2.
The race for second place at the gate is taking place 135 miles (about 7 hours) back, where Boris Herrmann's Team Malizia showed impressive pace on Sunday by steadily overhauling Charlie Enright's 11th Hour Racing Team and building a slight, and steadily increasing, lead of nearly 10 miles.
"We have had some super-tight racing today," said Malizia's Will Harris, swinging his camera around to show the opposition as his team made the pass on Sunday. "We've just managed to overtake them. They're absolutely flying, but luckily we've managed to go a little bit faster."
Biotherm is a further 40 miles back having dropped behind on Saturday.
"After working our way through Biotherm last night it was Malizia’s turn to do the same to us this afternoon," wrote media crew member Amory Ross on Sunday.
"They seem to be able to carry more sail and keep their bow up, presumably with the shape of their hull, and while we struggled in the waves to keep from nosediving they were able to sail at the same speed but lower. We watched as they sailed down to us, around our bow, and then continued on in a more southerly direction."
After more than three days of relentless speed sailing at a recordbreaking pace towards the scoring gate (every team beat the previous record by at least 30 miles), it is possible the crews will take a moment to check their equipment after collecting their points at the scoring longitude of 143-degrees east.
11th Hour Racing Team, for example, has two rudders to inspect for wear and tear and Team Malizia is barely a week removed from its impressive mast repair. Team Holcim-PRB and Biotherm are doubtlessly pushing their equipment outside operational norms as well.
As much as the scoring gate marks a milestone on the longest leg in the 50 year history of The Ocean Race, there are still over 7500 nautical miles to go before the finish line at Itajai, Brazil. Half of the points have been awared, but the halfway point is still to come.
The ETA for Team Malizia and 11th Hour Racing Team at the scoring gate is 0100 UTC Monday morning, with Biotherm a further 2.5 hours back. The relentless race continues.
About The Ocean Race
Since 1973, The Ocean Race has provided the ultimate test of a team and a human adventure like no other. For nearly 50 years, it has kept an almost mythical hold over some of the greatest sailors and been the proving ground for the legends of our sport.
The 14th edition of The Ocean Race started from Alicante, Spain on 15 January 2023, and will finish in Genova, Italy early in the summer of 2023. The race visits nine iconic cities around the globe over a six-month period (Alicante, Spain - Cabo Verde - Cape Town, South Africa - Itajaí, Brazil - Newport, RI, USA - Aarhus, Denmark - Kiel Fly-By, Germany - The Hague, the Netherlands - Genova, Italy) and features a leg with the longest racing distance in the 50-year history of the event - a 12,750 nautical mile, one-month marathon from Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí, Brazil. The IMOCA fleet of mixed crews will pass all three great southern Capes - Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn - non-stop, for the first time.
Along with five confirmed foiling IMOCA teams racing around the world, six one-design VO65 boats will race on three legs with an option to compete for a new trophy within The Ocean Race called The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup.