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The Ocean Race – Ready to race !!!

The Ocean Race

Ready”. It’s not a word that you hear much around the marina at Ocean Live Park in Alicante ahead of the start of The Ocean Race. People are in the process of getting ready and some are wishing they could wind back the clock to buy back that most precious of resources – time. 

Not so much Francesca Clapcich or her colleagues on 11th Hour Racing Team. The American team has been operating at a high pitch for the best part of three years. For skipper Charlie Enright and his crew, it’s all been building towards this moment.

There’s no doubt that for many observers of the race, 11th Hour Racing Team starts on the list of favourites, and arguably the favourite. “We have done everything we can to be ready,” says Clapcich, a two-time Olympic representative for Italy. “The boat is in good shape, the people are in good shape. The technical team, the design team, they have done an awesome job. The shore crew have been working day and night to get the boat to being as prepared as it can be. Everyone on the team has been working so hard for us to be ready, the riggers, the boatbuilders, everyone. They may not be sailing the boat round the world, but they are living this race with us, it’s their prize too.”

11th Hour Racing has given itself the best opportunity to win the prize, but, “In the end this is still a race,” warns Clapcich. “We don’t know how they other teams are going to perform, and there are things we can’t know, so we don’t really know what to expect. You can always damage the boat, you can always have injuries with people, it’s a really unpredictable race. So, yes, on paper, you can put us down as a favourite, but it’s never so simple.”

The first test comes on Sunday with the In Port Race in Alicante. Manoeuvring an ocean-going IMOCA around a short course race track is anything but straightforward. These boats are designed to charge along in a straight line across thousands of miles of open ocean, not to be handbrake-turned around a tight race track less than a few hundred metres from the shore. As the trimmer, part of Clapcich’s responsibilities will be to keep an eye out from the leeward side of the boat for traffic, for their rivals and the spectator fleet.

“We need to be aware and have our heads out of the boat, with me looking out to leeward and Charlie driving the boat and watching what’s happening to windward. As sailors, it’s important for us to put a good performance out there this weekend, to start the race in the best way possible,” says Clapcich. “We need to be fast out of the start, and with these boats if you can get up on to the foils early that will give you a big advantage. To do well would give everyone a good boost of confidence, so it’s important to go out there with the right mentality, push hard from the start to the finish. Leave nothing on the race course.”

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