The Ocean Race: a second tactical leg from Cape Verde

The unprecedented four-day stopover in Mindelo ended on Wednesday at the end of the day with the crew parade. As during their welcome last weekend in the port of the Cape Verdean island of Sao Vicente, it was to music and the encouragement of the public that the sailors joined their monohull Imoca (18.28 m) before to cast off the moorings. In the vast bay of Porto Grande, the breath of the powerful trade wind that had been sweeping the archipelago for several days had lost its intensity. At the gunshot, at 7:10 p.m., the competitors had to make do with light winds to set off on the second leg of The Ocean Race, a long journey of about fifteen days to Cape Town, at the tip of the Africa (4,600 miles, 8,520 kilometers), via the equator and the South Atlantic.

Proving to be the quickest on the line, Guyot Environnement-Team Europe (Benjamin Dutreux gave way to Sébastien Simon on the stage) still led the way after a few minutes of racing ahead of Holcim-PRB (Kevin Escoffier), 11th Hour Racing (Charlie Enright), Biotherm (Paul Meilhat) and Malizia (Will Harris). But the scenario for this second round was far from written. “It’s a big chunk in terms of distancecomments Paul Meilhat, winner of the 2018 Route du Rhum. But we leave all the same with more serenity for the equipment than on the first stage where we suffered tough conditions (up to 50 knots [92 km/h] in the Strait of Gibraltar). The course is nice, with two crucial points to negotiate, the doldrums and the Saint Helena high. »

“There are a lot of positives, the crew and the boat are performing well”

A newcomer to the event, Yann Eliès, who has embarked on Malizia to replace Boris Herrmann (the skipper), injured in one foot, believes that “It promises to be tactically and strategically complex in terms of the weather and the options to follow. But it’s going to be exciting.” “For me, coming to the event for the first time, he continues, cIt’s a little dream come true because between the Jules-Verne Trophy and the Vendée Globe, I’ve only done races around the world that never stop. Not to mention that I must have passed twenty or thirty times near these islands which I have always watched from afar. It took me twenty-five years of career to set foot on the ground in Cape Verde! »

Winner of the first stage, Kevin Escoffier would see himself doubling the lead in Cape Town. “There are a lot of positives, the crew and the boat are performinghe says. But I’ve already participated twice in The Ocean Race (on Dongfeng de Caudrelier, 3rd in 2014-2015, 1st in 2017-2018), I know that you shouldn’t think you’ve arrived. The competition is fierce and given the way we pushed the boats during the first leg, I have a big question: can we go to the end of the lap at such a pace? We’ve never fired on Imocas like that with a crew! »

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