Charles Caudrelier will reunite with Kevin Escoffier for leg 5
From Team Holcim-PRB
The fourth leg of The Ocean Race concluded on Wednesday in Newport, with the victory of the American team 11th Hour Racing, finishing ahead of Malizia by about thirty minutes. Kevin Escoffier came as a spectator to congratulate Charlie Enright and his crew upon their arrival at the pontoon. Holcim-PRB, unfortunately, was deprived of this intense battle due to the dismasting incident that occurred on April 27th off the coast of Brazil. As a result, the current leader does not score any points for this leg, but their exceptional start to the race allows them to maintain the top position in the overall standings despite their withdrawal. As the fifth leg approaches, Kevin Escoffier and his crew have a total of 19 points, with a one-point lead over 11th Hour Racing Team and Malizia, who are tied at 18 points.
In this context, the upcoming leg, which is worth double points, represents a crucial challenge for which the entire Holcim-PRB team has been relentlessly fighting since the dismasting incident. For the Swiss monohull, the countdown continues ticking, and the goal remains to be able to reach the starting line on time on Sunday, May 21st, at 2:15 PM local time (or 8:15 PM French time).
Kevin Escoffier is well aware that timing is tight, and no setbacks can occur in the meticulously planned logistics. The good news of the week for Holcim-PRB is the retrieval of the new mast from Lorient. It arrived on American soil on Wednesday and is currently being handled by the expert team, with the work to fully equip it already underway. The IMOCA boat is still aboard a cargo ship, expected to reach Newport next Wednesday. The team will then have only four days to prepare Holcim-PRB for the race. The challenge remains achievable, and the energy of each team member is fully dedicated to this objective.
The skipper of the Swiss monohull is preparing with great focus, just as he did for the previous legs. Having been in Newport since Wednesday, he now awaits the arrival of his teammates in a few days, who will assist him in getting the best out of this fifth leg between Newport, USA, and Aarhus, Denmark. Kevin has chosen experienced sailors who are familiar with the boat for this transatlantic journey. Among them is Charles Caudrelier, the skipper of Gitana Team, who won the race in 2017-18. Alongside the recent winner of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 2022 onboard Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, there will be crew members who have already sailed aboard Holcim-PRB in The Ocean Race, including the British sailors Abby Ehler and Sam Goodchild. Yann Riou will take charge of photo and video production as an onboard reporter.
The crew selection was obviously important, as it has been for each of the previous legs and will be for the ones to come. For this leg, Kevin Escoffier wanted to assemble a strong core group and invited Charles Caudrelier to share his experience and take on the role of navigator. The two men have known each other for a long time, and Kevin was a crew member of Dongfeng Race Team skippered by Caudrelier during their victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18. “My idea was to reunite the core of the crew. Sam Goodchild will be returning after sailing on his IMOCA and has had a little rest. Abby is coming back in great shape and as motivated as ever. As for Tom, he has embarked on his own project and was no longer available. So, I called upon Charles Caudrelier, who will be the navigator on board. I chose Charles because he is someone I know very well, who is highly motivated, and who has great experience in The Ocean Race. We communicate well together, and he can contribute a lot in terms of performance on the boat. I think we both have a passion for technology and performance. We are also fully dedicated to the sport, and that is something I greatly appreciate. We have started working on the weather and discussing pilot settings, polars…” Kevin Escoffier recounts.
Abby Ehler and Sam Goodchild have each already competed in two legs of The Ocean Race aboard Holcim-PRB, including the third leg in the Southern Ocean. Both of them are enthusiastic about returning to the blue and green monohull. Abby’s experience with three previous circumnavigations and Sam Goodchild’s extreme motivation will undoubtedly be valuable assets for this leg. “They are two very good sailors who have already impressed me with their qualities and skills in the previous legs. For me, they are among the pillars of the crew. Together, we have completed three-quarters of the circumnavigation in terms of mileage” adds the skipper of Holcim-PRB.
Kevin Escoffier will leave Newport with a strong and seasoned team. The sailor is determined to perform well again after the setback in the fourth leg. “We are taking a fresh start, and although we didn’t finish the last race, our lead was comfortable enough to keep us in the lead of The Ocean Race. While the upcoming leg is important, I know that there are still 50% of the points to be earned until the finish in Genoa in July. So, we are only halfway through the race. And the pace is only going to accelerate. I know this from experience, so we need to stay focused” explains the skipper of the GO CIRCULAR project.
The fifth leg of The Ocean Race, covering 3,500 nautical miles, promises to be intense once again. Beyond the double points, the demands of this return journey to Europe will require the crew to be fully in sync with the boat and execute a perfect strategy in order to hope for a leading position in Denmark. “I expect it to be cold. It’s a leg we don’t often do. I have already done several transatlantic crossings in this direction, but always to arrive in France. Going to Denmark will take us through the north of the British Isles. That completely changes the game in terms of weather strategy, and that’s something new for me. We will have to play around the ice limit, not far from Newfoundland. It’s going to be a very interesting leg” concludes Kevin Escoffier.