First look at The Ocean Race 2022-23 >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

While the final composition of The Ocean Race 2022-23 is not yet final, five of the IMOCA teams confirmed to date since the registrations are in France and must race in Lorient at the Azimuth Challenge 2022 – a multi-stage event from September 14 to 18.

Four of the five international teams – Charlie Enright and Mark Towill’s 11th Hour Racing Team (USA), Boris Herrmann’s Team Malizia (GER), Benjamin Dutreux Robert Stanjek’s GUYOT environment – ​​​​Team Europe (FRA/GER), Paul Meilhat’s Biotherm (FRA) – will race with four crew members (including at least one female sailor) as well as an additional on-board reporter (OBR) whose role is to relate the performance of their crew in words, images and video.

For his part, the French skipper Kevin Escoffier has chosen to sail his Holcim – PRB IMOCA in solo mode.

The annual six-day event for IMOCA solo skippers, which allows crewed splitting, attracted a total of 29 boats for its 12th edition. The entry list includes many top names in the class, including the top three skippers of the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe: Yannick Bestaven (FRA), Charlie Dalin (FRA) and Louis Burton (FRA).

The program begins on September 14 with a day of sprint speed events along a one nautical mile course between Lorient and the neighboring island of Groix. The race will be based on a FIFA World Cup-style knockout format with the teams grouped together in the early rounds before the qualifiers go head-to-head in the later stages. For the boats in The Ocean Race, this leg offers a valuable opportunity to measure themselves against their opponents in terms of raw speed.

The following day, the fleet sets off for a 48-hour offshore race around a course that loops in the Atlantic around a set of virtual waypoints before bringing the fleet back to Lorient on September 17. For the four full crews of The Ocean Race, this will be the first and last time they will race together offshore before the start of the 14th edition of the round the world race on January 15, 2023 in Alicante, Spain.

With that in mind, the two days offshore could be as much about reconnaissance as it is about outcome, with crews expected to keep a close eye on each other as they try to glean useful information on technique, setup and the configuration of their rivals. performance.

The final day of racing, September 18, revolves around a timed sprint fleet race around the 15 square kilometer island of Groix. With 29 boats and a record time of just one hour, eight minutes, 10 seconds (set by French skipper Vincent Riou on PRB in 2015), this race is shaping up to be a frantic race with no room for tactical mistakes or errors. of maneuver.

11th Hour Racing skipper Charlie Enright said his team was looking forward to racing with the other IMOCAs in The Ocean Race.

“The formula is excellent. You linger there with the sprint races which are fun, and then there’s the 48 hour race – which is most relevant to what’s happening on the track for all the competitors.

“The Round Groix race is particularly valuable for us as it gives us the chance to have meaningful practice in boat handling in the crewed format.”

Paul Meilhat – skipper of the brand new IMOCA Biotherm – acknowledges that his boat, which was only launched last week in Lorient, may not be quite ready, but he said he and the team were delighted to participate.

“I’m really happy that we can do this as a full crew as a warm-up for The Ocean Race. The truth is that it is easier to manage a boat that is not completely finished sailing with four of you than if you are alone. I also think it’s a great way for all of us to start our story together with The Ocean Race.

Will Harris (GBR), co-skipper of Team Malizia, said that Boris Herrmann’s team wanted to compete with the other IMOCAs entered for The Ocean Race for the first time.

“We saw some of the other boats on the water but never lined up against them,” Harris said. “So that will be the time when we see if we are in the game – or if we still have a lot of work to do.”

GUYOT environment – Team Europe manager Jens Kuphal said the event would be a major milestone for the team which is a potent mix of Olympic campaigners and offshore racing talent.

“There’s a lot of expectation for the Azimut Challenge because it’s the first time that our sailors have teamed up. For us, it’s like the kickoff of the whole campaign, so it’s a special moment.

Although he chose to race the Défi Azimut alone, the French skipper of Holcim – PRB, Kevin Escoffier, said he was delighted to see the rest of the crews of The Ocean Race IMOCA competing.

“I chose to do it alone because I wanted to train alone on the boat before the Route du Rhum. But for sure I will keep an eye out for our friends and rivals from The Ocean Race teams.

All boats will be fitted with GPS trackers for the duration of the event, meaning fans will be able to follow the action online on the event website. The 48-hour race tracker will be on board theoceanrace.com.


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Ocean Race 2022-23 race schedule*:
Alicante, Spain – Leg 1 start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Departure of stage 2: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Departure of stage 3: February 26 or 27 (to be confirmed)
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Departure of stage 4: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Departure of stage 5: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Start of stage 6: June 8
Kiel, Germany (flyover) – June 9
The Hague, Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Start of stage 7: June 15
Genoa, Italy – The Grand Final – ETA: June 25, 2023; In-Port Race Final: July 1, 2023
* To be confirmed – Prologue: September to December 2022

The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race and Whitbread Round the World Race) will be raced in two boat classes: 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. Competitors in the IMOCA 60 class will compete for The Ocean Race trophy, while those racing the VO65s will pursue the Ocean Challenge Trophy. The 14th edition was originally scheduled for 2021-22 but was postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

Source: Scuttlebutt/Ed Gorman, IMOCA

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