CORUM L’Épargne (IMOCA) and The Austrian Ocean Race Project (VO65) win Leg One of The Ocean Race Europe
1st: CORUM L’Épargne
2nd: : 11th Hour Racing Team
4th: Offshore Team Germany
5th: Bureau Vallée
1st: The Austrian Ocean Race Project
3rd: Team Childhood I
4th: Sailing Poland
5th: AkzoNobel Ocean Racing
6th: Viva México
7th: Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team
1200 UTC UPDATE
Just 6nm to the finish and the lead is still changing as the fickle breeze delivers boosts to individual teams as it rolls across the course.
At present the southern group look set to have the upper hand, crossing ahead of Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team and Bureau Vallée who are around 2nm behind as they head down from the north.
But within the southern group the finishing order continues to look uncertain as the lead changes between Sailing Poland, Team Childhood I and The Austrian Ocean Racing Project every few minutes.
1100 UTC UPDATE
As the cold front sweeps towards the Portuguese coast it is bringing patchy breeze and changing the fortunes in the fleet with each random puff. Things got pretty tricky too as the fleet tried to avoid slipping into the exclusion zone. After around 1,300nm so far and four nights at sea it is as if the race has just started.
Meanwhile to the north, Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team continue to put their faith in diving down to the finish.
1000 UTC UPDATE
Will local knowledge deliver a win? Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team’s apparent gamble to stick with an approach from the north is looking better as the team rides the northerly breeze associated with the cold front that is sweeping towards the Portuguese coast. If they can stay with this weather feature, they may keep the breeze to the finish.
Because of the angle that the cold front is aligned to the coast, those that went south may find themselves with a longer distance to run in light breezes.
Ifs, buts and maybes could be the story of Leg 1!
0900 UTC UPDATE
Planning the final approach to the finish is getting harder by the minute as some of the high resolution weather models suggest that the breeze closer to the shore will be much lighter and from the south.
Taking the northerly route to the finish could result in slow upwind progress in these very light winds.
Taking the southerly route looks like a safer bet with stronger winds from the north providing better, faster conditions as the weather front sweeps the fleet towards Cascais. Is this why 11th Hour Racing Team and CORUM L’Épargne gybed at the last minute to head South?
All well in theory but the team with arguably the most local knowledge – Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team – is sticking to the northerly route to the finish.
High stakes… nerve wracking times.
0800 UTC UPDATE
With the fleet having compressed just 60nm out from the finish, the big decision facing teams is to decide which way to pass the exclusion zone that lies between teams and the finish. South seems the most popular choice, but this route comes with the risk of running into light breeze before the finish. Diving down from the north could keep teams in more breeze, but with a potentially slower sailing angle.
0700 UTC Update: It’s going to be photo finish in Cascais for Leg One of the The Ocean Race. In both fleets the racing is incredibly tight.
For the IMOCAs, less than seven miles separate the fleet on distance to finish, with just over 50 miles to the line. But that’s not the whole story.
There is a Traffic Separation Scheme to negotiate (the yellow shaded box on the race tracker), with teams forced to chose a north or south option.
LinkedOut and Offshore Team Germany will drop to the south, with CORUM L’Epargne and Bureau Vallée taking a northern option. 11th Hour Racing Team still has an option but looks to be tracking north.
For the VO65s, it’s similarly close, with six teams to the south and the spread is just a few miles. Interestingly, it is the home crew, Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team, who has chosen the northern option. Will local knowledge play a role in the outcome?
It will be stressful time for sailor and navigators as the breeze builds around the finish area for the final miles.