HomeSAILINGThe Ocean Race : Leading IMOCA breaks off towards African coast

The Ocean Race : Leading IMOCA breaks off towards African coast

Bold call pays small dividends for Team Holcim-PRB en route to Genova

Leading IMOCA breaks off towards African coast, returns with 10 mile lead. WindWhisper continues to dominate the VO65 fleet…

Team Holcim-PRB made a break for the Algierian coast overnight on Friday, leaving the close-quarters match racing they’d been having with Biotherm and Team Malizia since before Gibraltar.

At one point, they had gained nearly 100 miles of separation to the south – risky business in the light, shifting winds. But surprisingly, when the boats converged again on Saturday morning off the Spanish coast, not too much had changed. Although Holcim-PRB has made a net gain of about five or six miles (as of this afternoon UTC) –  important when the margins are so thin – it seems like scant reward for taking such a big risk.

UPDATE: After seeing this story, Benjamin Schwartz, the skipper of Team Holcim-PRB reached out to say there were two points we should know: First, the team was happy with the gain they made overnight (the team felt it was closer to 25 miles); and second, they were a bit surprised the other IMOCAs didn’t come with them. Schwartz said, “That surprised us. Some of the routings were (saying to do) a little hour to the north, but none were taking the Spanish route…”

But by returning to the Spanish coast (not far off The Ocean Race start port of Alicante, fully completing the circumnavigation in the process!!) skipper Benjamin Schwartz has consolidated the gains he’d made and is now in a powerful protective position between Biotherm, Malizia and the finish in Genova.

“We’re heading up the Spanish coast, less than 600 miles to go to the finish now,” said Alan Roberts from on board Biotherm on Saturday morning. “In theory we could do that distance in one day on an IMOCA. More likely it’s going to take us three!! It’s not very fast sailing. Quite complex with a few more transitions between now and the finish.

“We’ve got Malizia just a few miles behind and to leeward of us. Team Holcim-PRB is to weather and forward of us. Last night they hitched out to the right pretty hard, sailing quick, and they’ve come back ahead of us, but probably not as far as they should have been… an interesting option from them…”

In the VO65 fleet, WindWhisper Racing Team continues to sail its own racetowards The Grand Finale in Genova, with a nice lead over all of the chasers.

Skipper Daryl Wislang’s team is nearly 175 miles to the east of the rest of the fleet, and may leave the Balearic Islands to port, racing in much different conditions to the others. And this is just about the only risk for WindWhisper… In these light, changeable conditions, they have to sail their own race and be confident they can get to Genova faster.

When they arrive, The Grand Finale is fully prepared to offer some top Italian hospitality. Ocean Live Park in Genova had a soft opening ceremony on Saturday morning before the official opening Sunday.

The latest positions are on the Race Tracker and the leaderboard is available here

The latest news is at www.theoceanrace.com and you can follow sailing’s greatest round-the-world challenge on Eurosport with every leg departure live and on-demand on discoveryplus.com or Eurosport.com

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