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Holcim-PRB finishes 2nd in the fifth leg of The Ocean Race

by Team HOLCIM - PRB 29 May 04:31 PDT 29 May 2023
Holcim-PRB finishes 2nd in the fifth leg of The Ocean Race © Yann Riou | PolaRYSE | Team Holcim-PRB

It took less than 8 days for the IMOCA fleet to cross the Atlantic and reach Denmark from Newport, USA. In a crazy leg sailed at spectacular speeds, it was the Americans from 11th Hour Racing Team who came out on top. The Holcim-PRB crew took 2nd place after a memorable finish with Malizia along the Danish coast.

Kevin Escoffier, Abby Ehler, Charles Caudrelier and Sam Goodchild fought an intense battle over the 3,500-mile race. Sleep was in short supply and bodies were put to the test as they tried to catch up with the leaders. On several occasions, the green and blue boat came dangerously close to 11th Hour Racing Team. There was even a gap of less than 10 miles between the two monohulls as they approached Europe. However, the Holcim-PRB crew had to sail almost the entire transatlantic without any wind information following the fall of the two wind sensors 48 hours after the start, and were unable to make the most of the wind encountered during the 7 days of racing. Deprived of information on wind angle and strength, Kevin Escoffier and his crew were penalized in their boat handling and strategic choices. "We had no wind information on the boat. In other words, we didn't know the angle of the wind in relation to the boat, nor the strength of the wind. So when we're going pretty much straight ahead and everything's going well, it's fine. On the other hand, when the wind is variable, and you have to make gybes or sail choices, it's difficult. This has an impact on both performance and strategy. You can't tell exactly where the wind is coming from, and it's very complicated to know only by feel. So we steer with information on speed and angle of heel, and learn to use different sensations and sensors other than those of the wind. Of course, we also have routing information to help us set our route, but it's not always accurate." explains Kevin Escoffier.

This Atlantic crossing had a double coefficient. With this 2nd place in Aarhus, Holcim-PRB relinquishes its crown as overall leader. Kevin and his crew are now 2nd in the rankings, just 1 point behind 11th Hour Racing Team, the new leader, and 3 points ahead of Malizia, who came 3rd in Aarhus.

Kevin Escoffier, Abby Ehler, Charles Caudrelier and Sam Goodchild were greeted on the pontoon in Aarhus by their entire shore crew. After the dismasting off the coast of Brazil during Leg 3 of The Ocean Race, the team approached this fifth leg with a strong desire to protect its leadership. The battle in the heart of the Atlantic was of a very high standard, and Holcim-PRB once again demonstrated fabulous potential, even beating the absolute record for distance covered in 24 hours (640.91 miles), before this was beaten again a few hours later by Malizia (641.13 miles). But Holcim-PRB's power wasn't enough to overcome 11th Hour Racing Team, which produced a near-perfect copy of its performance between the United States and Europe, despite a collision with a marine mammal. The stakes on the remaining two legs will therefore be high. There are still 10 points to take before the final finish in Genoa. Anything is still possible, and the whole Holcim-PRB team wants to believe. "This leg was great, even if we had a few problems on board. Our race took a different turn when the aerials broke, which penalized us in terms of wind data from day 2. Without an aerial, you quickly lose all your references: should you reef, what's the wind like... these are all questions that are harder to answer. We had to estimate a lot of things ourselves, so we wanted to do our best and win this race, but it wasn't easy. We gave it our all, we really fought hard. I don't think anyone in the crew has slept for at least 24 hours, we're all burnt out, and I'm really happy to put my foot down now. Finishing in 2nd position wasn't our objective, but it's still a great result considering the technical problems we had on board." comments Sam Goodchild.

The start of the Leg 6 will take place on Thursday, June 8. The fleet will set off on an 800-mile sprint to The Hague, Netherlands, via the German city of Kiel.

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