Roaring towards Cape Town
The fleet has pushed south into the Roaring 40s and close to record-breaking speed runs...
It's been a productive and fast 24 hours for the IMOCA fleet in The Ocean Race as the teams are diving south towards an ice exclusion zone and into the Roaring 40s, named for the area south of 40-degrees latitude where low pressure systems circle the continent of Antarctica unimpeded by land masses.
Sailors in The Ocean Race have traditionally called this territory the beginning of the Southern Ocean and it's where the legends of the race are born.
Today is no different. Conditions have been ripe for speed runs and the top three boats on the ranking have all posted plus 500-nautical mile stretches in a 24-hour period.
"It's very wet, it's very grey, but we are really, really fast,"said Susann Beucke on Team Holcim-PRB. "We are tying to match with the other boats... They're pushing a lot so we have to push back."
Skipper Charlie Enright's 11th Hour Racing Team had the best mark according to Race Control, set overnight at 541.7 miles, which is edging into record breaking territory.
(The IMOCA Charal, skippered by 2011-12 winner of The Ocean Race Franck Cammas, holds the uncertified fully crewed record for the class at 558 nautical miles; Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss has a certified mark of 539.71 nautical miles; and The Ocean Race record is Simeon Tienpont's AkzoNobel at 602 nautical miles).
While speed records are on the table today, conditions are forecast to change dramatically ahead of the finish.
Skipper Will Harris and his Team Malizia grabbed the lead on the rankings as at 1100 UTC, but the truth is the top three boats are very close in terms of tactical position towards the finishing line.
And those behind aren't out of it. The leading boats are forecast to begin pushing into a ridge of high pressure that has very light winds. The trailing teams, including GUYOT environnement - Team Europe, will bring stronger winds with them from the west, and there is a scenario where all five boats end up very close on final approach to Cape Town overnight Saturday and into Sunday.
But that's all to come. For today, it's still a matter of pushing hard, to the southeast, making miles in the strong conditions as long as they last. It's fast, but it doesn't make for an easy life on board.
Life on board 11th Hour Racing Team at record pace:
"Moving from your bunk to the back of the cockpit, which is about five steps, can take about a minute," explains Jack Bouttell on board 11th Hour Racing Team. "You have to plan each step with coordination as to which handhold you're going to hang on to. And then there is the noise of the boat and how loud the hum is from the foil. The louder the hum, the faster you're going and the bigger risk of a nosedive following that. There are times you hear the hum come on and you just hold something and don't move and just wait for the inevitable. And then you can carry on with your day. But cooking, going to the bathroom, changing clothes, it's all very difficult."
The ETA for Cape Town is Sunday February 12.
Leg Two Rankings at 1200 UTC - 8 February 2023
1. Team Malizia, distance to finish, 1201.3 miles
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 4.4 miles
3. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to lead, 62.9 miles
4. Biotherm, distance to lead, 222.7 miles
5. GUYOT environnement - Team Europe, distance to lead, 492.8 miles
Source : The Ocean Race
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