The Ocean Race 2022-23 - 18 March 2023, Leg 3, Day 21 onboard Biotherm. Sam Davies hoists the sail with Team Malizia in the background. © Ronan Gladu / Biotherm / The Ocean Race
The Ocean Race: back up to speed
The fleet is enjoying stronger winds, faster speeds, and incredibly close racing.
The four IMOCAs pushing east through the southern latitudes of the Pacific Ocean are seeing better speeds today, following a weekend of light winds.
Racing along the ice exclusion limit at 52-degrees south, the teams are in 15 to 25 knots of wind, and average speeds are back up near 20 knots.
And it is still incredibly, impossibly close racing - at 1500 UTC on Monday, the four boats are separated by just 2 nautical miles on the tracker leaderboard, and 3.5 miles north to south.
"We are quite fast," said Kevin Escoffier on the leading Team Holcim PRB. "I think when we are close to the other boats we are ok with the speed... But each time we get fast and away from the others, they come back with wind from behind."
Climb the mast with skipper Paul Meilhat of Biotherm
"We are going well, almost in the middle of the pacific..." said Nico Lunven from Team Malizia. "The fleet is very compressed together so we are able to monitor the other boats quite well to check whether we are sailing faster or slower, higher or lower than the others."
"It's all very close, the fleet is back together, it's like a complete re-start," agreed Justine Mettreaux on 11th Hour Racing Team. "It's going to be interesting. A lot to play for over the coming days."
"It's crazy," said skipper Charlie Enright. "Despite the fact that there are these boats right here (beside us), we are just trying to race ourselves, not change our philosophy. There is a lot of race left and paticularly before Cape Horn we know that there is going to be some big weather. So we really want to keep this boat in one piece and we'll go from there."
The longer range forecast is for more 'southern ocean' type conditions on the approach to Cape Horn next weekend, when the fleet will be squeezed between an ice exclusion zone that is unusually far north due to confirmed ice sightings and perhaps the most infamous rocky outcropping in the world, which will force them to dive far to the south, dipping as far as 57-degrees south.
Very strong westerly winds - and an accompanying sea state upwards of six metres - is the current prediction for Cape Horn, so the sailors have enjoyed their last days of relative calm with two weeks of racing left to Itajaí, Brazil.