Please select your home edition
Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW LEADERBOARD

The Ocean Race: The fight for first starts in Newport

by The Ocean Race 20 May 01:09 PDT
The Ocean Race 2022-23 - Skippers Press Conference in Newport © Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race

Four IMOCA teams will compete in the Newport In Port Race on Saturday before heading off across the Atlantic as The Ocean Race leaves the Americas and returns to Europe.

With just over one month before the Grand Finale finish in Genova, Italy, there is still no certainty at the top of the leaderboard, with three teams within one point of the lead heading in Sunday's leg 5 start.

Kevin Escoffier's Team Holcim-PRB holds the lead over 11th Hour Racing Team and Team Malizia by the narrowest of margins. His team is recovering from a dismasting leg 4 and has used all of its energy and resource to be on the starting line in Newport, with a lead intact, after retiring from the previous leg.

"If we are still here in Newport leading The Ocean Race, it is due to the technical and logistics team who have done such great work," Escoffier said during a press conference on Friday at Sail Newport. "It's a small miracle to be able to be here. The boat is great, the (replacement) mast has the same performance standard we were looking for. It's nice to have the boat back here, in a good shape as well."

Escoffier has changed up his crew again, bringing on board Charles Caudrelier, who the winning skipper he sailed to victory with in the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Just one point in arrears is Charlie Enright, the skipper of 11th Hour Racing Team, who salvaged a challenging first half of his around the world campaign with a win into his hometown in Newport last week. It was a victory that vaults the team right back into contention on the leaderboard.

"It was an amazing leg for us obviously," Enright acknowledged. "We are the 11th Hour Racing Team and in some ways we were in the 11th Hour, from a competive standpoint, so there was no time like the present to get our first victory. The finish itself was almost like it was scripted, like a fairy tale - hundreds of boats, thousands of people. It was really amazing and personally it was a dream come true."

Enright too is adding to his crew, with Charlie Dalin joining for the transatlantic leg. Dalin is a two-time IMOCA world champion and will certainly add to the performance profile on board the 11th Hour Racing Team boat. "His track record speaks for itself as one of the - if not the - most successful offshore sailors in recent years," Enright said.

Team Malizia is equal on points with 11th Hour Racing Team, also just one click behind the leaders on Team Holcim-PRB. Skipper Boris Herrmann returns after sitting out leg 4, while Yann Eliès replaces Nico Lunven.

"Leg 5 is an exciting one. It is an iconic, ocean racing leg, and there is excitement right up to the finish.... Currently, things couldn't go any better for our team and for the race as a whole," Herrmann said. "We have everything to race for...

"We are quite confident with our boat and with the team and we are just trying to keep progressing step by step. We certainly hope to progress even further, learn more during this leg and make it as hard as possible for all the other four teams here to be on top of the leaderboard."

Holding position just a small step behind the leading trio is Paul Meilhat's Biotherm. Even for him, the overall race lead remains in reach.

"Yes, it is still possible to win," Meilhat insisted. "The boat is fast, we have a good crew and this race is not finished yet. We have done maybe 80% of the race in terms of miles, but for the points and racing part we are barely halfway there. At the start in Alicante we said we wanted to be in a position where the last two legs would hold possibility. We are very close to this."

The next stage of the race across the Atlantic from Newport to Aarhus, Denmark is scored as a double-points leg, giving it strategical significance. A winning performance here will go a long way to determining the final results.

Before the leg start on Sunday comes Saturday's In-Port Race. The standings in the In-Port Race Series act as a tie-breaker on the overall race leaderboard. With the points so close, the In-Port series is becoming important.

The weather forecast isn't promising - winds gusting over 30 knots and heavy rain. But if there are safe racing conditions at start time (2:10pm local time / 1810 UTC), the racing will take place.

How to follow the Newport In-Port Race.

The fifth IMOCA team, GUYOT environnement - Team Europe, is being shipped back to Europe from Halifax, Canada. Skipper Benjamin Dutreux joined his colleagues on stage to give an update:

"I want to thank all the teams - everybody here can understand what it is like to manage a project like this one, and how important it is to have the support of your fellow competitors," he said. "We are all trying to do our best to join the fleet in Europe.

"At the moment we don't know exactly what will be the plan, we are working on it. The boat is now on the ship and will go to Europe and we are working with the support of all the other teams and everyone else involved in the race to come back. We don't want to retire from the race, we want to finish the story - that is the most important for us."

See Race leaderboard

Related Articles

Team JAJO ready to rejoin The Ocean Race
On 8th June, the fleet will set course for The Hague The Team JAJO VO65 arrived in Aarhus, Denmark last weekend to rejoin The Ocean Race for the VO65 Sprint Cup. The Dutch flagged team, led by skipper Jelmer Van Beek, will be preparing for the Aarhus In-Port Race on 4 June. Posted on 31 May
VO65 fleet returns for The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint
WindWhisper Racing Team is already in Aarhus, training The last time we saw the VO65 fleet in The Ocean Race was in January and the teams had just completed the opening stage of the VO65 Sprint, from Alicante, Spain to Cabo Verde. Posted on 26 May
The Ocean Race's In-Port Race Postponed
Due to deteriorating weather in Newport Due to deteriorating weather, the In-Port Race in Newport which was scheduled for this Saturday 20 May at 14:10 local time (20:10 CEST) has been postponed and will take place on Sunday, ahead of the start of Leg 5. Posted on 20 May
The Ocean Race Leg 4 Day 19: 11th Hour win
11th Hour Racing Team wins in hometown, with Malizia second, closing up the leaderboard 11th Hour Racing Team have won Leg 4 of The Ocean Race, leading the fleet into their hometown of Newport, Rhode Island on a spectacular spring afternoon in New England. Posted on 10 May
Hard landing in the middle of high-speed mode
For GUYOT environnement - Team Europe during Leg 4 of The Ocean Race It was like a hard knockdown out of nowhere in a strongly fought boxing match: GUYOT environnement - Team Europe had just found its rhythm on the fourth leg of The Ocean Race, had dived into the trade winds after days of nerves in the slack zone. Posted on 1 May
Every nautical mile counts
GUYOT environnement - Team Europe is strengthening its commitment to ocean protection GUYOT environnement - Team Europe is strengthening its commitment to ocean protection and plastic waste recycling by partnering with Berlin-based CleanHub, an organization whose mission is to keep plastic pollution out of our oceans. Posted on 26 Apr
Heiner and Kirketerp join Team JAJO
Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek is glad that he can add both former Olympians to his team Olympic gold medalist Martin Kirketerp and former Laser World Champion Nicholas Heiner join Team JAJO for The Ocean Race. The Dane Kirketerp will be sailing on Team JAJO during both Leg 6 and 7, Dutchman Heiner will only sail Leg 7. Posted on 26 Apr
The Ocean Race Leg 4 Day 2
A pure speed contest, with the five boat fleet racing within sight of each other It was GUYOT environnement - Team Europe sailor Annie Lush who said the opening days of Leg 4 would be a "trim off" and this is how it has come to pass. Posted on 24 Apr
GUYOT environnement Team Europe: Time for revenge
The team around skipper Benjamin Dutreux wants to make amends With the start of the fourth leg of The Ocean Race from Itajaí/Brazil to Newport/USA, GUYOT environnement - Team Europe is ready to show that it has more in it than the scoreboard so far indicates. Posted on 19 Apr
Calls for the ocean's rights to be recognised
Indigenous leaders and decision-makers call for better governance and recognition of ocean rights Speaking earlier today at The Ocean Race Summit Itajaí, Santa Catarina, Brazil, Eunice Kerexu warned that indigenous rights and better governance are critical for the success of ocean protection initiatives. Posted on 19 Apr
Marine Resources 2022 Salary Survey FOOTERT Clewring J-class 728x90 BOTTOMNorth Sails Performance 2023 - FOOTER