Time to reach Cape Town

It’s time for the five Imoca teams of The Ocean Race to finally reach Cape Town. A finish had been expected from 8 February. The big high pressure systems on this leg slowed down the teams. Now the calculated arrival time is during Sunday, 12 February. For the crews, this means that food supplies, which had been rationed earlier, are now running out.

“We are running out of tea. We are running out of coffee,” reported Robert Stanjek, skipper of GUYOT environnement – Team Europe. The menu for him, Sébastien Simon, Anne-Claire Le Berre, Phillip Kasüske and Charles Drapeau is becoming more and more monotonous. There are no snacks left, only freeze-dried food. The strain is also noticeable in other ways. The European team has made up a lot of ground in the past few days, reducing the gap from 510 nautical miles on 8 February to 70 nautical miles on 11 February. Over one and a half days, the average speed was consistently above 20 knots. That doesn’t make life easy on an Imoca with the constant bumping in the waves. “It takes a double time to dress, it takes a double time to cook. You can only move on your knees, waiting for a calm sound to move,” Stanjek reported.

But all the efforts let them get closer to the field: “Most of the time we are sailing with the J2 and full main. Sometimes when it’s a little bit lighter and the angle is more open we change to the J0. It’s fun. It’s not like easy driving. It needs a lot of concentration to keep a nice long balance to fly. All four sailors making a good job. The maximum is about 530 nautical miles in 24 hours. Which is cool. That is closed to the boat record.”

“Crazy to do so many miles. If you imagine that on the land it is such a big distance. To travel this in 24 hours just by the wind power it’s an enjoyable ride. I like to go fast,” says Phillip Kasüske.

The approach to Cape Town could become an exciting tactical game. In preparation for this, Robert Stanjek has already gathered information before the start of the leg: “I got a great briefing beforehand from Ian Ainslie – friend and most successful sailor from Cape Town. He wrote a great road book for us.“


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Annie Lush watches the final from a distance. The two-time Ocean Race sailor will be back on board GUYOT environnement – Team Europe in Cape Town for the third leg. She is keeping her fingers crossed for her team members in the final. „I’m not sure I have the best weather models and routing etc. However I know from experience that this can be a very tricky coastline and venue to sail into due to the topography of Cape Town with high mountains that the wind comes around.

The team are closing the gap fast, but there are still quite a few miles to close and the time is running out, so it really depends how much the others stop in this ridge. We will see, there is still a lot left in this race. It’s been a fascinating leg with many tactical options and decisions and different conditions to sail through. To be honest I’ve definitely had FOMO for a lot of it. I really like this leg and it feels a lot more stressful pressing refresh on the tracker than actually being able to help push the boat yourself at times! Yesterday in the gym I did a big session and felt like I was trying to push them along from afar! But I think given the quick turn around now for the huge Leg that is Leg 3 we made a good decision to rotate two of us off, so Ben and I can bring energy to Leg 3. I think even the in port race in Cape Town will be exhausting. They were always crazy in on this bay with 5 kts by the shore, and 40 kts at the first mark! I’m very excited for the team. I hope they get some opportunity to fight again in these last few miles as they get to sail into one of the most beautiful places in the world! Either way I know they’ll be very happy to get to shore, a shower and most importantly some good food. The reserves are running low this leg. They have enough but perhaps not what they’d choose!

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