Will the race to catch up succeed?

February, 2023, TOR, The Ocean Race, onboard, Leg 2, GUYOT environnement - Team Europe, Day 16, SŽbastien Simon, Robert Stanjek, splash, wave

At the back, the Atlantic spray crashes over the cockpit roof into the stern water, in the focus of the eyes, the screen shows the weather map, routings and calculation models: In the race to catch up in the direction of Cape Town/South Africa, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe has to keep the black Imoca constantly at top speed in order to close the gap to the leading teams, who are already at the high pressure wall. The slowing down of the leaders confirms the expected scenario for the final days before the leg arrival at The Ocean Race. But whether the current higher speed of the European team with Robert Stanjek, Sébastien Simon, Anne-Claire Le Berre, Phillip Kasüske and onboard reporter Charles Drapeau will be enough to close the gap completely cannot yet be seen from the models.

“The high pressure ridge seems to be pushing further south after all, according to the new routings with new grib files. For us, that means we have to move into the water of the others earlier after all. The ETA has moved further back with the new routings. Apart from that, we did 522 nautical miles in 24 hours. That was pretty cool. We push hard,” reported skipper Robert Stanjek. However, the damage to the sails is making itself felt. “We have been missing the fractional zero for the last two days, which fell out of the lock at the top. It belongs between the J2 and the Code Zero. We always had to fill this gap in compromise with the other two sails. For the arrival, when it’s really light wind, we naturally lack the A2. With the others, only Paul Meilhat has an A2. But with the modern, lighter ships, you just don’t take a sail like that with you any more. We’ll have to see about that.”


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The mood on board is marked by the race to catch up. Everyone is highly motivated and concentrated on driving the boat. “But we are also looking forward to the arrival. We are all exhausted. It’s been a long leg.”

Looking at the instruments, navigator Sébastien Simon was pleased with the data: “We surf the big waves here, sometimes top speeds between 30 and 34 knots. That’s huge. But when we race into the wave in front of us, it’s a bit violent. At the moment we have to be very focused on our boat speed – straight ahead, as fast as possible towards Cape Town. Then we’ll see what else is possible.”

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