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Holcim-PRB covers 521 miles in the last 24 hours of The Ocrean Race and could break the record again

by Team HOLCIM - PRB 25 May 19:20 PDT
Team Holcim-PRB - The Ocean Race © Yann Riou | PolaRYSE | Team Holcim-PRB

After four days of racing on Leg 5 of The Ocean Race, the IMOCA fleet is now racing in the North Atlantic. With strong wind conditions (south-easterly winds of around twenty knots), the leading monohulls are achieving impressive average speeds. Holcim-PRB, currently second behind the leader 11th Hour Racing Team, has covered 521 miles in the last 24 hours at an average speed of almost 22 knots!

The miles are flying by as the IMOCA finally managed to get through a low-pressure front yesterday afternoon and were able to avoid the high pressure traps by picking up some new wind.

On board Holcim-PRB, at these speeds, life on board is very difficult. Every move has to be anticipated, eating is a risky operation and you really have to be able to switch off your brain to find the few minutes of rest that can save you in a boat that is constantly bouncing around... But the pleasure of being back in the race on this leg after retiring off Brazil almost manages to minimise the discomfort experienced by Kevin Escoffier, Abby Ehler, Sam Goodchild and Charles Caudrelier.

Holcim-PRB's quartet fought back and took advantage of being on starboard tack in relatively calm seas to lengthen their stride and catch up with the Americans, who were some thirty miles away.

What Holcim-PRB achieved was remarkable given that the crew had problems shortly after the start in obtaining the wind information necessary for the boat's performance. The day before yesterday, a masthead aerial broke off, causing the second aerial to fall off. A replacement system was first installed at the back of the monohull before Sam Goodchild climbed the mast yesterday to connect it.

"Following the dismasting we had to redo the aerials, all the brackets etc. We only had one day to validate all this, on Saturday in Newport in good sea conditions. For the start of the race, we had a bit more wind than we expected. We had a reaching leg with about 30 knots of wind. In these conditions, one of the sensors that allows us to obtain the direction and strength of the wind broke, then the second one. We had neither the wind strength (which allows us to choose the optimal sail), nor the wind direction (which allows us to know where the wind is coming from when we have to gybe and adapt our weather strategy).

"As soon as we could, we went up to the top of the mast to install a replacement aerial. We managed to play it by feel but it wasn't ideal. We were making progress in terms of speed and the feeling on the boat. It's much less good in terms of performance. It's a consequence of our dismasting" explained the skipper of the Swiss monohull this afternoon.

Malizia, third in the rankings, is about fifty miles behind Holcim-PRB. As for Biotherm, she is sailing in a different wind (north-west) and has not yet passed the centre of the depression. The crew has also reported problems with the autopilot and the fixing of a headsail (J3) at the masthead. The next few hours are still going to be fast for the leading trio.

The opportunity, perhaps, to break the 24-hour record held by Holcim-PRB and set on 12 March during the third leg of The Ocean Race. Kevin Escoffier and his crew covered 595.26 miles (1,102 km) while racing in the deep south.

"Yesterday, we caught up with a front. We passed in front of it and now we are following it on starboard tack, which gives us high speeds. Life on board is obviously affected. On the other hand, the sea is flat which is rather pleasant. It avoids being too much underwater but it's still a bit rough. For us, it's the start of a new phase after the abandonment on the fourth leg. We made a few mistakes that I think we paid for a bit too dearly. 11th Hour Racing Team also sailed very well. We passed behind them again at 6 miles but we didn't sail very well in the passage of the front.

"But it's true that it wasn't easy with the air problems. Without wind information, these moments are quite complicated. If it goes on like this, we will break the 24-hour record again" concludes Kevin Escoffier in a huge hubbub which testifies to the high speeds achieved by the green and blue monohull.

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