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The new IMOCA team Canada Ocean Racing is gearing up for its first year of racing in 2023

by Canada Ocean Racing 15 Dec 2022 11:34 PST
Canada Ocean Racing team © Canada Ocean Racing

In 2023 the new IMOCA team, Canada Ocean Racing, will switch gears from start-up mode to competitive racing mode. The team's 2023 racing and training schedule includes three transatlantic crossings, over 25,000 nautical miles, and four highly competitive offshore races.

Following the establishment and launch of the team in 2022, the Canada Ocean Racing team has seen a very successful first year. With President and Skipper, Scott Shawyer, and mentor, Alex Thomson, at the helm, the team has secured and refitted a new boat, bringing it up to a competitive standard, built a considerable fan base, and developed the start of their commercial offering.

Following sea trials in the UK, the team undertook a training run across the north Atlantic to reach the team's home nation of Canada. With five stops in major cities, they had a packed schedule of media sessions and welcomed over 1,000 visitors to the boat. The tour was a great success and a fantastic platform for the start of the campaign as they prepare to springboard onto the world stage of offshore sailing in 2023.

"Launching this new team to take on the Vendée Globe and to raise the profile of offshore sailing in Canada has been two years in the making and this is just the start of our journey. This time a year ago we didn't have a boat or even a team, so we have come a long way already. During our fall Canadian tour, it was great to see and hear from everyone we met that there is real enthusiasm for the Vendée Globe and for offshore sailing in Canada!" said Shawyer.

"Heading into 2023 we have a very packed year with four key races, including a mix of double-handed and fully crewed events. Pushing the boat with a full crew is great for performance development, but the double-handed races are, for me, the biggest steps forward in my journey towards the Vendée Globe in 2028. For me, pushing performance is key alongside developing this team as a commercially viable operation, and we are making great progress in both areas."

In just a few weeks, as the new year comes in, Scott and the team will meet in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, to compete in the Royal Ocean Racing Club Transatlantic Race starting on the 8 January. The 3000-mile race ends on the island of Grenada in the Caribbean. For this race, Scott is joined by co-skipper Alan Roberts; a successful skipper in the Figaro class, the British sailor has a wealth of experience to bring to this race.

"The RORC Transatlantic Race is a great test for double-handed sailing and to be doing it with this newly formed IMOCA team is an exciting prospect. Scott and I have trained on the boat, we work well together in tough situations, and we are both very competitive and analytical, but we are also able to crack a joke from time to time. Our personal dynamic will be key in the upcoming race." said Alan.

Following the Atlantic crossing the team then switches back to a fully crewed mode for the Royal Ocean Racing Club Caribbean 600 Race starting on the 20 February from Antigua. A 600-mile offshore sprint race, which navigates around eleven Caribbean islands, will see the team line up against some of the most competitive professional and Corinthian offshore teams.

With a quick turnaround, Scott will then undertake a simulated solo Transatlantic back to the UK. Accompanied by one crew member for safety reasons, Scott will use this as the most extreme training to date. Supported remotely by mentor Alex Thomson, this will be one of the biggest learning opportunities for Scott.

“Not being out there myself still seems strange but being able to give Scott support and advice about the performance of the boat and himself is something I am really enjoying and that he is very receptive to. Scott still has a lot to learn but I have been very impressed with him during our training sessions so far. During the crossing we will monitor him closely and we will be managing the incoming jobs list and preparations for the summer refit as we reach a crucial point in the year, ahead of the Fastnet and Transat Jaques Vabre” said Alex Thomson.

Post summer refit, the next race in the team’s calendar is the 50th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race. The double-handed 695-mile race, starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron line in the Solent, will see the IMOCA class battle the Irish Sea before turning round the iconic Fastnet Rock to race back to Cherbourg, France. Seen as pre-training for the Transat Jacques Vabre only a few months later, this race is key to ensuring the upgrades made during the summer are in place and ready for this 5800-mile Transatlantic race.

The Transat Jacques Vabre, will be the third Atlantic crossing in 2023 and will be the most challenging race in the calendar. With an expected 20+ fleet of other IMOCA’s, the competition will be experienced and fierce, with a course that takes the sailors down the coast of Brazil and back up to Martinique. One thing is for certain; it won’t be an easy ride.

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