The Ocean Race 2022-23 - 21 April 2023. 11th Hour Racing wins the In-Port race in Itajaí. © Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race
11th Hour Racing Team top of the table in Itajaí In Port Race
11th Hour Racing Team led the In-Port Race from start to finish in Itajaí, Brazil on Friday. The win moved the American team to the top of the In Port Race Series leaderboard.
Light winds of 8 to 10 knots meant the IMOCA fleet was unable to get on the foils, but the two-lap square-shaped course was still challenging for these ocean-going boats which are not easily manoeuvred in tight spaces.
Charlie Enright timed his approach to the leeward end of the start line perfectly, and 11th Hour Racing Team looking strong from the moment the gun fired. Breathing down his neck was Kevin Escoffier’s Team Holcim-PRB, with the Frenchman keen to see if he could overhaul the American boat before the first turning mark. Meanwhile a good start from the windward end of the line by Biotherm also saw Paul Meilhat’s new crew threatening the front two boats.
Further back, GUYOT environnement - Team Europe (FRA/GER) was back racing their black boat for the first time since retiring from Leg 3. Benjamin Dutreux kept the slow-starting Team Malizia at bay, with Will Harris’s crew initially unable to make inroads on the fleet.
However, on the downwind leg, with double Olympian Marie Riou calling the tactics for Meilhat, Biotherm managed to steal the inside line from Holcim-PRB, and the French boat moved up into second place on the second lap. Further back Malizia did the same to GUYOT, the German boat squeezing around the turning mark just ahead of Dutreux’s crew.
Enright grinned with relief and delight as the American IMOCA, Mālama, crossed the finish line more than two minutes ahead of the fleet. “In conditions like this, it’s never over until it’s over," said Enright. “Big credit to the team, I start the boat and everyone else does the rest. I can’t say enough for the guys down below who do all the work. It’s a good day for us here in Brazil.”
Meilhat was delighted how his brand new team - Riou, Alan Roberts and Mariana Lobato - sailed Biotherm so effectively to take an easy second place.
"Our boatspeed was really good and the manoeuvres were also good, which is a bit of a surprise because it's really the first opportunity for all the crew, which shows they are really strong," Meilhat said. "This is a good sign for Biotherm ahead of the Atlantic race to Newport."
The same could not be said for Holcim-PRB who struggled through their final manoeuvre in the race, the headsail flapping helplessly as Malizia charged through on the final leg to take third place across the line. Escoffier was disappointed to fall to fourth place, with the GUYOT environnement team coming across in fifth place.
Leg 4 start - Sunday 23 April
The start of the 5,500 nautical mile Leg 4, from Itajaí to Newport, Rhode Island, USA is scheduled for Sunday at 1315 local time / 1615 UTC / 1815 CEST.
In Port Race - Itajaí - Results and points
1. 11th Hour Racing Team (USA), 5 points
2. Biotherm (FRA), 4 points
3. Team Malizia (GER), 3 points
4. Team Holcim - PRB (SUI), 2 points
5. Guyot Environnement - Team Europe (FRA/GER), 1 point