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On Sunday, leg one of the 2023 Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain, with five International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) teams and six VO65s. The first leg is a 1,900-nautical mile sprint from Alicante, Spain, to Cape Verde, Africa. It is the first time since the race began in 1973 that the competitors will stop in that African archipelago.

Brutal offshore breezes dominated the first couple of days of racing, forcing the fleet to race along the coast of Spain in search of calmer seas. As of Tuesday, the fleet had just passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Atlantic. The five teams were faced with difficult tacking choices, reducing leg length but risking damage or enduring longer legs with bigger waves.

Onboard GUYOT environnement - Team Europe: Skipper Benjamin Dutreaux

Onboard GUYOT environnement - Team Europe: Skipper Benjamin Dutreaux

Team Holcim-PRB arrived first at the Strait and entered the Atlantic. Soon after, 11th Hour Racing followed in their footsteps. Team Malizia, skippered by Boris Herrmann passed through the Strait third. “It was a very intense day and night,” Herrmann said. “We saw 50 knots yesterday.”

Holcim - PRB Team. The short and sharp sea state whilst sailing upwind makes it hard going for the boats.

Holcim - PRB Team. The short and sharp sea state whilst sailing upwind makes it hard going for the boats.

Onboard Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova.

Onboard Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova.

In fourth place was Paul Meilhat’s Biotherm, and fifth was GUYOT environment—Team Europe. Weather forecasts predict that those who passed through the Strait later may benefit from breeze changes. This wind change will also impact the VO65s. Leading the VO65s is WindWhispering Racing Team, followed by the Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova and followed by Team JAJO in third place.

Once they arrive in Cape Verde, The Ocean Race IMOCA’s will participate in Ocean Week, which is dedicated to local and international sustainability issues. During the six-month race, special equipment will measure microplastics pollution, climate change data (carbon dioxide, salinity, temperature and trace element levels), meteorological data and ocean biodiversity data.

The Ocean Race

The Ocean Race

Stefan Raimund, lead scientist at The Ocean Race said “A healthy ocean isn’t just vital to the sport we love, it regulates the climate, provides food for billions of people and supplies half the planet’s oxygen. Its decline impacts the entire world. To halt it, we need to supply governments and organizations with scientific evidence and demand they act on it.”

Current rankings on January 17, 2023, as of 1600 GMT were as follows:

IMOCA
1. Team Holcim-PRB, 1465.4 miles to finish
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, 24.6 miles to leader
3. Team Malizia, 46.0 miles to leader
4. Biotherm, 54.9 miles to leader
5. GUYOT environnement - Team Europe, 61.3 miles to leader

VO65
1. WindWhisper Racing, 1509.1 miles to finish
2. Austrian Ocean Race - Team Genova, 6.5 miles to leader
3. Team JAJO, 9.8 miles to leader
4. Mirpuri Foundation Race Team, 9.9 miles to leader
5. Ambersail 2, 21.2 miles to leader
6. Viva Mexico, suspended racing, 194.5 miles to leader

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