The big start of the 2022-2023 Ocean Race has been launched!
The biggest marathon of the seas has begun. The Imoca sailboats, true Formula 1 of the seas, are entering the competition. They will compete in a race lasting several months and will cover no less than 60,000 kilometers in the most hostile waters on the planet.
Fifty years after the first edition, the start of the 2022-2023 Ocean Race was launched this Sunday, January 15, from the port city of Alicante, in southeastern Spain, at approximately 4:10 pm. The 14th edition of The Ocean Race, formerly known as the Whitbread Round the World Race, then the Volvo Ocean Race, will feature five crews aboard their Imoca, the 60-foot monohull yachts. They will compete in a race covering 32,000 nautical miles, or approximately 60,000 km.
When the starting gun was fired, the Biotherm boat, led by Paul Meilhat, took the lead ahead of the other four crews. The Imoca boats set off towards Cape Verde, before heading for Cape Town in South Africa, Itajai in Brazil, Newport in the United States, Aarhus in Denmark, The Hague in the Netherlands and finally concluding the race in Genoa, Italy. The boats, equipped with foils, the lateral appendages that allow the boat to rise above the water, will have to combine speed and balance to face the harsh conditions of the oceans for the next six months. They should reach the Strait of Gibraltar today, where a headwind and rough seas await them, according to the forecast.
A new race format
For this new edition, the event has changed its formula and changed the boats to the 60-foot Imoca (from the acronym “International Monohull Open Class Association”, the organization that governs this category of boats). These boats, true Formula 1s of the seas, also competed in the Vendée Globe, and more recently in the Route du Rhum, in which they form an “open” category, i.e. prototypes where each boat is different from its competitor.
“This is the first opportunity to see these boats [the Imoca boats] sailing to their full potential with a crew,” said Phil Lawrence, race director since 2016. “It’s going to be interesting because, even though they do very well single-handed, the performance potential of the boats is enormous.”
The Ocean Race 2022-2023 edition pits a fleet consisting of Team Malizia, skippered by Germany’s Boris Herrmann, 11th Hour Racing Team and skipper Charlie Enright, and three teams skippered by Frenchmen: Guyot Environnement-Team Europe with Benjamin Dutreux and Robert Stanjek, Biotherm helmed by Paul Meilhat, and Holcim-PRB skippered by Kevin Escoffier, who has competed in the race twice.
The Ocean Race, which is held every three years, offers this year a battle at the top as the five Imoca boats in the running have the potential to win the Trophy. The last edition, held in 2017-2018, was won by the Dongfeng team (China), led by French skipper Charles Caudrelier, after 126 days of racing.
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Featured photo : © Press
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