11th Hour Racing Team prepares for longest leg in The Ocean Race history

11th Hour Racing Team prepares for longest leg in The Ocean Race history

11th Hour Racing Team prepares for longest leg in The Ocean Race history


26/02/2023 - 08:40

11th Hour Racing Team will set off tomorrow, Sunday, February 26, 2023, on the longest ever leg in the history of The Ocean Race - 12,750-nautical miles (14,672-miles/23,613-kilometers) and around 35 days of racing through the Southern Ocean. The US-flagged team will cross the startline in Cape Town at 1415 local time (1215 UTC) to race east around the World, destination Itajaí, Brazil.

Joining 11th Hour Racing Team Skipper Charlie Enright (USA) will be Navigator Simon Fisher (GBR), Trimmers Jack Bouttell (AUS/GBR) and Justine Mettraux (SUI), along with Media Crew Member, Amory Ross (USA).

The sailors will race south of all three of the world's southernmost capes: South Africa's Cape of Good Hope, Australia's Cape Leeuwin, and Chile's Cape Horn off the southern tip of South America.

Leg 3 is a 'double pointer' with ten points up for grabs: five will be awarded based both on the order the boats cross the line of Longitude 143° East as they pass south of Australia, and another five on their finishing position in Itajaí. 11th Hour Racing Team currently lies in second overall, just three points off the top spot, currently held by the Swiss-entry, Holcim-PRB.

Skipper Charlie Enright said, "The Southern Ocean can give you a lot, but it can also take everything away in a flash. This is where we, as professional offshore sailors, experience the most exhilarating and exciting sailing we'll ever do in our lifetimes. It can be extraordinary.

"You have to brace yourself for this part of the world. We do this race for the competition and also for the adventure, and never is the adventure more omnipresent than it is in this leg. Out there, your competitors are your lifeline, and 40-foot waves and 60-mph winds are a regular occurrence in the depths of the Southern Ocean. It's time to leave the nice weather behind here in Cape Town - I'm looking forward to getting going!" he concluded.

The Southern Ocean is notorious for the world's strongest winds and largest waves as well as freezing air and water temperatures, icy rain, sleet, and even snow.

"Getting to Cape Horn is everything," Enright continues. "Every team will be pushing their boat but everyone also knows where the danger line is, the line of risk versus reward. There is plenty of racecourse left after this leg and monitoring the health of our boat, relative to the pace of our boat, relative to the pace of the other boats, is going to be key."

For most of Leg 3, the teams will be so far from civilization that any realistic chance of assistance is likely to come from a fellow competitor. Along the way, the fleet will race close to Point Nemo – a virtual waypoint calculated to be the furthest place on the planet from land, where the nearest human beings are the astronauts in the International Space Station around 250 miles (400 kilometers) over their heads.

While racing in the Southern Ocean, the team will deploy two NOAA weather buoys which will gather data and meteorological information to inform climate scientists and weather specialists about the health of the ocean, while also updating the weather models used by the crews for their race routing. "This is citizen science in action in the Southern Ocean," said Navigator Simon Fisher.

Weather preview with 11th Hour Racing Team Navigator, Simon Fisher (GBR)

11th Hour Racing Team Navigator, and five-time veteran of The Ocean Race, Simon Fisher explains the complexities of the first few days of Leg 3.

"Tomorrow will be typical Cape Town weather with a strong southerly breeze in the Bay, so we'll do some fast reaching, and then we'll have to get out through the light transition zone that sits under Table Mountain. Then we'll be into some strong south-easterly winds to get down the Cape.

"In the first 24-48 hours after leaving Cape Town, there are some tactical options for each team to choose from, and we'll see them start to play out quite quickly. Do we head out of Cape Town, sail down the Cape, then head off to the southwest to avoid the worst of the light winds sitting under South Africa in order to connect up with the stronger westerlies in the Southern Ocean? Or do we have to work our way further east, tacking all the way around the Cape, before heading south to tackle the light winds associated with the col sitting to the south of Africa?

"One of the key factors in this decision-making, aside from avoiding the patches of light wind, is the Agulhas Current. If we take the south-westerly option, we must go west, far enough to avoid the foul current. If we stay east, we will likely get an easier run with the current, but be forced to deal with lighter, unpredictable winds of the col region that are not very well forecast in the weather models, and that can end up being really tricky.

"Once we get through the light winds, we're at the gateway to the Southern Ocean. We will quite quickly encounter Southern Ocean conditions with strong south-westerly winds of up to 30 knots. These are the cold, hard winds that we expect down there, so we'll need to be prepared for that!"

11th Hour Racing Team Crew for Leg 3 of The Ocean Race 2022-23:

Charlie Enright (USA) - Skipper
Simon Fisher (GBR) - Navigator
Jack Bouttell (AUS/GBR) - Trimmer
Justine Mettraux (SUI) - Trimmer
Amory Ross (USA) - Media Crew Member

Overall Leaderboard:

5 points = first; 4 points = second etc.
1. Team Holcim - PRB - 10 points (5+5)
2. 11th Hour Racing Team - 7 points (4+3)
3. Biotherm Racing - 6 points (2+4)
4. Team Malizia - 5 points (3+2)
5. GUYOT environnement - Team Europe - 2 points (1+1)

The Ocean Race 2022-23 Route:

Leg 1: Alicante, Spain to Mindelo, Cabo Verde
Leg 2: Cabo Verde to Cape Town, South Africa
Leg 3: Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí, Brazil
Leg 4: Itajaī, Brazil, to Newport, Rhode Island
Leg 5: Newport, Rhode Island to Aarhus, Denmark
Leg 6: Aarhus, Denmark to The Hauge, The Netherlands (with a flyby past Kiel, Germany)
Leg 7: The Hague, The Netherlands to Genoa, Italy

Inaugural RORC Nelson’s Cup Series decided
The Ocean Race 2022-23: wild start to Leg 3 from Cape Town