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Holcim-PRB is back in competition at 100% capacity

by Team HOLCIM - PRB 21 May 2023 00:11 PDT
Team Holcim-PRB - The Ocean Race © Julien Champolion | PolaRYSE | Team Holcim-PRB

For Holcim-PRB, this departure will be full of emotions. Finding their way back to competition after the dismasting incident off the coast of Brazil forced the entire team into an intense sprint combining logistical challenges and technical hurdles.

It is thanks to the collective strength and intelligence generated by the team that Kevin Escoffier and his crew will be able to start tomorrow on a boat that has regained 100% of its potential. Early this morning, the skipper of the Swiss project was able to take advantage of a small weather window for training navigation, even though the mast was only put back in place on Holcim-PRB three days ago.

Surrounded by his crew members Charles Caudrelier, Sam Goodchild, Abby Ehler, and several technical team members, including Technical Director Loïc Féquet, Kevin Escoffier was able to push the speedometer to over 30 knots to put all the rigging under tension and verify the entire electronics. Test passed! Holcim-PRB is ready to return to competition mode for a transatlantic race in the North Atlantic, where the weather currently offers more uncertainties than certainties.

Weather objective: to reach the Azores high

The 3,500-mile route between Newport and Aarhus via the northern British Isles will count as a double. This leg is therefore an unmissable event! With a one point lead over 11th Hour Racing Team and Team Malizia at the top of the general ranking, the crew of Holcim-PRB knows that the task will not be easy. Since the start in Alicante, the level of play on the water has continued to rise and each team has gained expertise.

"Obviously the first few days, we will have to regain confidence in our rig, even if the work of the technical team has been impressive. In just a few days, we've managed to get a boat back into an impressive state of performance and racing. All the boats are progressing. 11th Hour Racing Team has just put back its pair of V2 foils and has just put on new sails. Malizia has improved in speed.

"Today, we will have to be at 100% of our skills, at 100% of the boat to hope to win in Aarhus. That's normal. It's a very high level race, and that's why we're here. We have the crew for that, we have the boat for that, we have the team for that" said Kevin Escoffier.

Charles Caudrelier, skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, will be sailing on Holcim-PRB for the first time. He will be the navigator onboard. A key position for which the experience of the recent winner of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe 2022 will be important.

Over the past three days, he has been relentlessly analyzing the weather files and knows the complexity that awaits the four sailors. Reaching Aarhus will not be a long straight line at full speed. A small low-pressure system wedged between two highs is disrupting the game, or at least the forecasts.

"From one model to another, between morning and evening, the weather changes all the time. There are really two patterns. One is quite fast and everything goes well. The other is much more complicated. You can really have any condition. But that's what makes the race interesting. On the first two days, there will be a complex front passage. The challenge will be to get through it. We have routings that give us six days to get to the Shetlands, others predict nine days. Either we cross with the Azores high, or we cross with the high that is being rebuilt under the United States.

"So in one case, we're downwind and in the other, we'll be upwind in little air... These are not the same scenarios" explains Charles Caudrelier.

No matter what the weather will be, Kevin Escoffier, Charles Caudrelier, Sam Goodchild and Abby Ehler will be doing everything they can to get the 10 points that will be awarded to the winner in Aarhus. This would not only be a great reward for the whole team but also a great option for the finish in Genoa, two legs later.

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