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The Ocean Race: Team Holcim-PRB blows past 24hr distance records

by Peter Rusch, The Ocean Race 26 May 00:30 PDT 26 May 2023
Team Holcim-PRB has set a new 24hr distance mark for monohulls of 630nm © Yann Riou - Holcim - PRB

The team at the top of The Ocean Race overall race leaderboard has set a new monohull record

[This story has been updated at 1000 UTC Friday morning]

Skipper Kevin Escoffier and his Team Holcim-PRB have shattered the existing 24-hour distance records in the monohull class.

First to fall was The Ocean Race 24-hour Speed Record Challenge sponsored by Ulysse Nardin, previously set at 602 nautical miles by Simeon Tienpont's Team AkzoNobel in the last race.

A few hours later and the outright monohull record, 618 nautical miles, set by the 100 footer Comanche in 2015, had been eclipsed.

As of 0630 UTC on Friday morning, Team Holcim-PRB had peaked at 640.9 nautical miles.

Conditions have been near perfect for making a record run - downwind reaching, in 25-27 knots of wind, with a relatively flat sea state.

Escoffier commented on their success: "It’s a great boat and I’m really pleased! It’s not every day you break a record like this.

"I’m really happy for the whole team after what happened on the fourth leg (the team retired after dismasting). We don’t know what’s going to happen next, even if we’re going to do everything we can to win this leg. In any case, I think it’s a great reward for the whole team."

The run has brought the team within just a few miles of 11th Hour Racing Team who continue to lead the leg.

Interestingly, Escoffier had predicted this result earlier in the day: "Yesterday, we caught up with a weather front. We passed in front of it and now we are following it on starboard tack, which gives us high speeds... The sea is flat which is rather pleasant... If it goes on like this, we will break the 24-hour record again."

The previous race record holder, Simeon Tienpont, was effusive in his admiration for the new achievement.

"Big congratulations to the Holcim-PRB crew," he said. "When I woke up this morning it brought a big smile to my face... For me personally it’s great to see these boats crushing the race record but also the 24-hour record by beating a 100-foot maxi yacht. That is just insane!! I think It’s really good for the sport; it shows what we are capable of these days, with all the foiling techniques and innovations.

"It must be unbelievably exciting for those guys - I think this is a record that will be hard to break.”

Team Holcim-PRB hasn't been alone on this record-breaking mission. In fact, the first into the favourable conditions was 11th Hour Racing Team who were also the first to push past the existing race record.

But they topped out their run at 611.9 nautical miles, all the more remarkable considering the team reported a collision with what the crew "suspect(s) to be a marine mammal or megafauna..."

The boat came to a sudden stop and according to the team, trimmer Charlie Dalin suffered a suspected mild concussion, and media crew member Amory Ross injured his shoulder. After consultation with the on-shore race doctor, who has prescribed rest and monitoring, the team is continuing to race towards Aarhus. The boat does not appear to be damaged and remains at the front of the fleet.

Now 70 miles back, Team Malizia was the last of the leading trio to enter the 'record run' conditions and the team is starting to post impressive stats. As at 1000 UTC on Friday, skipper Boris Herrmann and his crew were near the 625 mile mark and still showing potential for more.

Further back, Paul Meilhat's Biotherm crew is still battling different conditions to the leading trio, and although their boatspeed is rising, they are now nearly 400 miles behind.

The ETA for the finish in Aarhus has moved forward with the record-breaking conditions to 29 May.

[Note all records mentioned in this story will need to be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.]

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