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The Ocean Race begins, Singapore SailGP recap, RORC Transatlantic Race news

by David Schmidt 17 Jan 08:00 PST January 17, 2023
15/01/23 - Alicante (ESP) - Team Malizia at The Ocean Race - Alicante stopover - Leg 1 Start © Ricardo Pinto / Team Malizia

Sustained atmospheric rivers may have been pounding the West Coast of the United States for weeks, but things were considerably drier and sunnier this weekend in Alicante, Spain, where the first offshore legs of the 2023 edition of The Ocean Race began on Sunday. Two classes of yachts lined up for this start: five IMOCA 60s, which will be racing all 31,700 nautical miles of the race, plus six VO65 One Designs, which will be contesting three different sprint-style races.

According to reports, the weather gods delivered flat waters and 12-14 knots of wind for the start, which allowed the fleet to put on a good show for spectators as they sailed around a short inshore course, before swinging their bows towards Cabo Verde.

North American interests are being represented in this tough offshore contest by 11th Hour Racing, which is led by skipper Charlie Enright (USA) and includes Simon Fisher (GBR; navigator), Jack Bouttell (AUS/GBR; trimmer), Francesca Clapcich (ITA; trimmer), and Amory Ross (USA; media). They are competing in the IMOCA 60 class.

"We have done everything we can at 11th Hour Racing Team to prepare, but that doesn't mean it is a day without nerves and butterflies - all things which I think are good!" said Enright in an official team communication prior to leaving the dock in Alicante. "It looks like a generally pretty windy and fast leg to Cabo Verde. The first 36 hours are pretty tricky, and the forecast for the next couple of days is definitely at the top of our minds; we know we need to preserve the boat."

As of this writing, 11th Hour Racing is leading the charge, followed by Holcim-PRB, GUYOT environment - Team Europe, Team Malizia, and Biotherm, the latter of which is a brand-new build that was launched just months before the starting guns sounded.

Roughly 25 nautical miles separate 11th Hour Racing's transom from Biotherm's bow, however, this being ocean racing, expect there to be plenty of snakes and ladders as teams fight their way to Cabo Verde.

Meanwhile, Ambersail 2 leads the VO65 fleet, followed by WindWhisper Racing Team, Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team, Team JAJO, and Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova. Viva Mexico suspended racing because of a damaged mainsail.

Much like in the closely spaced IMOCA fleet, as of this writing there are less than 50 nautical miles separating Ambersail 2's stern from the stem of Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova.

Stay tuned to the webpage for the latest action from The Ocean Race, as it unfurls.

Spinning the globe to Southeast Asia, this past weekend saw high-speed F50 racing take place at the Singapore Sail Grand Prix event, where the New Zealand SailGP Team, led by Olympic and America's Cup champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, dominated a talent-rife fleet.

Impressively, the Kiwi-flagged team bested the Australian and Danish teams to win the Final, despite entering the event with -4 points after a practice-session collision with the U.S.-flagged team.

"To be able to put it together today is an amazing feeling and everyone did an amazing job," said Burling in an official team communication. "We've been sailing consistently all week - it's a shame to have those penalty points for the season but it's good to come out and show what we've got and how strong this team actually is."

After four fleet races, plus the event Final, the New Zealand SailGP Team ended up in first place, followed by Denmark, Australia, Switzerland, Great Britain, Canada, the USA, and France.

Looking big picture, the Australian SailGP Team continues to top Season 3's leaderboard, but the Kiwis are now in second place, followed by the Brits.

For North American SailGP fans, the upstart Canada SailGP Team is in sixth place, and the American-flagged squad is sitting in seventh place, overall.

SailGP racing resumes in mid-February with the KPMG Australia SailGP event (February 17-18), followed by the New Zealand event a month later, and - in early May - the United States SailGP event (May 6-7), the latter of which also serves as Season 3's championship.

And finally, the RORC's Transatlantic Race began on Sunday, January 8, but by Friday, the 13th, Giovanni Soldini's Multi70 trimaran Maserati had already set a new course record of just 5 days, 5 hours, 46 minutes, and 26 seconds. This represents an improvement over the existing multihull course record of almost 17 hours.

Sail-World tips our hat to Soldini and the Maserati team, and we wish all competitors safe passage across the Pond.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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