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Team Malizia: The hunt is on: Antarctic ice exclusion zone

by Team Malizia 5 Mar 05:33 PST 5 March 2023
Malizia - Seaexplorer © Ricardo Pinto

Team Malizia is currently sailing very close to the ice limit that is set by the Ocean Race for Leg 3. We are currently in 4th place but in hot pursuit of 11th Hour and Biotherm... the three musketeers making their way along the edge of the ice limit in a hunt for Holcim PRB.

The team have intermittently through the night and today been able to use the J0 (the sail that goes to the top of the mast) and therefore put the newly laminated masthead to the test. So far so good, and they continue at a good pace along the ice limit, sometimes seeing over 30 knots.

The ice exclusion zone is an imaginary line enforced by the race and one that can be moved further North or South during the race. The boats must not cross this line but can hug the Northern barrier of it. This is in place to protect the boats from hitting icebergs as the racing spirit of the teams would suggest that they would push further South for the stronger wind and most direct route.

The limit is obtained by the race direction of The Ocean Race and constantly monitored, they are looking at satellite images and ascertaining how far the ice is drifting. The idea is to limit the boats sailing too close to potential icebergs as even a very small iceberg would damage the boat. Incidentally this can make the race longer or shorter.

Due to the curvature of the Earth, the closer the boats sail to the Antarctic the shorter the race is. During the Barcelona World Race that Boris Herrmann sailed with Ryan Breymaier, the pair found that their race course was dramatically lengthened part way through, adding an extra 10 days to their course and leaving them with scarce food rations for the latter part of the trip. The American sailor reportedly lost almost 10 kg on this extended round the world lap!

Another link and one that makes these sailors such important climate ambassadors is the fact that they are witnessing climate change first hand on our Ocean. The ice limit is moving and can be unusually variable due to climate change playing a major role here, the warmer temperatures occurring earlier is meaning that the ice is breaking off sooner and then actually drifting further North earlier in the year.

For our race this only means a longer race course and carrying more food but the implications for the planet in relation to rising sea levels and rising air temperatures is catastrophic!

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