© Alexander Champy-McLean / The Ocean Race
A handy guide to the scoring system used in The Ocean Race 2022-23
Although at its most fundamental level the perfect strategy for winning The Ocean Race comes down to simply scoring more points than your competitors, there is much more involved in emerging victorious from a five-month, 32,000-nautical mile (36,825-mile / 60,000-kilometre) race around the world.
The Ocean Race uses a high points scoring system with the winning team on an offshore leg awarded points equal to the number of entries in the race. Second place gets points equal to the number of entries minus one – and so on down the finishing order.
However, double points are up for grabs on two of the legs: the monster 12,750-nautical mile (14,672-mile / 23,613-kilometre) Southern Ocean passage on Leg 3 from Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí in Brazil – the longest in the race’s 50-year history – and the transatlantic crossing on Leg 5 from US city Newport, Rhode Island to Aarhus in Denmark.
The points on Leg 3 will be split between the order in which the teams pass the longitude of 143 degrees east – and their finishing order at the end of the leg. On Leg 5 the points will be doubled based on the teams’ finishing order on the 3,500-nautical mile (4,028-mile / 6,482-kilometre) transatlantic crossing.
With the rules dictating that teams which fail to finish a leg shall receive no points, the crews will need to manage their instinct to push their boats and themselves flat out with the need to avoid sustaining damage that might slow them down or even force them to retire.
Over the years many a promising campaign has been stymied by breakdowns and the old yacht racing adage that warns ‘To finish first, first you have to finish’ will no doubt be uppermost in the sailors minds as they battle their rivals across open ocean for weeks on end.
As well as avoiding damage the sailors need to avoid incurring penalty points that can be awarded for any transgressions to the race’s rules, such as entering race imposed exclusion zones, measurement violations, and anything else deemed to be a breach of the regulations.
The final standings at the end of the race are determined based on the teams’ total score for all of the legs – less any penalty points. The team with the highest series score wins with others ranked accordingly. Ties on overall points are throughout the race broken in favour of the boat with the highest overall position in the In-Port Series.
In The Ocean Race 2017-18 after racing for eight months around the world the top three teams were so close on points starting the final leg from Gothenburg, Sweden to The Hague in the Netherlands that the eventual winner – China’s Dongfeng Race Team – was not decided until the last few miles to the finish line.