11th Hour Racing Team unveils plans in build up to The Ocean Race
Port-La-Forêt, France (January 27, 2022) - US-based offshore sailing outfit 11th Hour Racing Team has unveiled its 2022 plans as it builds up to the pinnacle of crewed offshore ocean racing - The Ocean Race 2022-23. After a 14-month delay, The Ocean Race's start date is now confirmed as January 15, 2023 from Alicante, Spain.
The sailing team, which launched the newest, state-of-the-art Imoca offshore sailing yacht - Mālama - in August 2021, will spend a large part of 2022 training from its French base in Port-la-Forêt, Brittany, France.
"2022 is our year for testing reliability and pushing performance," commented Mark Towill, 11th Hour Racing Team CEO. "We have the newest boat in the Imoca fleet, and the first that is specifically designed for crewed racing. The Ocean Race will be an unforgiving 31,700 nautical mile [36,500 miles or 58,700 kilometers] marathon around the planet. We need to ensure that no stone is unturned in our quest for success."
Fully crewed line-up
In 2022, the team will shift to a fully-crewed configuration after a year of short-handed sailing, with just two sailors onboard. A core crew of sailors will be supported by a rotating squad of international talent to make up the composition of five onboard. Towill commented, "The length and intensity of The Ocean Race - from a 12,000 nautical mile Southern Ocean leg, to the shorter two week sprints across the Atlantic, will require this set up: attrition will be a reality."
The Team's 2021 racing schedule culminated in a two-boat Imoca entry in the biennial Transat Jacques Vabre, a first for the double-handed race across the Atlantic from Le Havre, France to the Caribbean island of Martinique. With just three weeks of on-water training before the start, being able to finish became the focus for Charlie Enright and Pascal Bidégorry onboard Mālama, as the boat suffered keel fin damage on day eight of the 21-day race, while racing in fifth place.
"Mālama's performance before the incident in the Transat Jacques Vabre was really very promising - the hull shape and the aerodynamics were beyond our expectations. So our focus for 2022 is going to be on improving the strong building blocks that we have in place. Mālama is currently in the refit shed in France and we'll have our first training session in April - four weeks of daily training, with a number of overnight sessions to put the team, and the boat, through its paces," commented skipper Charlie Enright.
After the France-based session, the Team will then head across the Atlantic for two months of training in its home town of Newport, Rhode Island, also home to sponsor 11th Hour Racing.
Enright continued: "Bringing the new boat home to Newport will be an incredibly important period, not only for me personally as a Rhode Islander, but also for the wider team. We purposely chose to build the boat in the heart of the offshore sailing world in Brittany, France, so we could learn from the most experienced designers, boat builders, teams and partners. Due to the pandemic, our full team - across shore, communications, sponsorship and logistics - hasn't had much of an opportunity to all come together for an extended period of time. To have the chance to do this, embedded in our home town, alongside so many people who have supported us since the start of the campaign, is a time that we are all greatly looking forward to."
"Harnessing the power of sport for positive change is our mission, and we work daily with 11th Hour Racing Team to make this a reality," said Rob MacMillan, 11th Hour Racing president and co-founder. "Since the official launch of the team in 2019, this talented and hard-working group of people has accomplished a remarkable amount of work. We are thrilled to welcome them back to our hometown to engage with our community, our grantees and collaborators. All together we will work to protect our land, soil and waters and inspire long-lasting behavior change for the ocean," concluded MacMillan.
11th Hour Racing Team 2022 schedule:
January - March: Mālama undergoes winter refit
April & May: training session, Port-La-Forêt, France
End May: transatlantic crossing from France to USA
June & July: Newport, Rhode Island
August: transatlantic crossing from USA to France
September: training session, Port-La-Forêt, France
October: training session, Port-La-Forêt, France
November & December: The Ocean Race preparation
December: delivery to Alicante, Spain for The Ocean Race start