He might not be able to sail this leg due to his shoulder injury but that’s not stopping Amory Ross from writing his race updates…
📅 SATURDAY JUNE 10, 2023
🕒 1130 UTC
💨 SPEED: 22.3 KNOTS
🥇 POSITION: 1st
📏 DISTANCE TO FINISH: 313.5 NM
The team is successfully around the top of Denmark with the lead but they’ll be sailing into lighter winds around the corner first. If they can manage to keep Holcim back over the next few hours in an inevitable fleet compression, as the new winds from the east cross over Denmark and touch down along the coast, the riskiest segments of the leg will be behind them and they get to push offshore on the long reach towards The Hague in steadier winds.
It should be a fast trip down along the coast before a narrow TSS corridor crossing and the final, short leg to the finish in easing winds. Once pointed south, there’s very little leverage left on the course and the only way for Holcim to get by Malama would be to go sail past them. We’ve always felt good about our relative reaching speeds, especially in flat water, so you can be sure the competition is feeling the urgency, even with 300 left to go.
📅 FRIDAY JUNE 9, 2023
🕒 1300 UTC
💨 SPEED: 8.9 KNOTS
🥇 POSITION: 1st
📏 DISTANCE TO FINISH: 679.8 NM
Less than 24 hours into Leg 6 and the IMOCA fleet is reaching it’s first significant milestone: The Kiel Fly By. Located in northern Germany, Kiel and it’s waterfront Harbour is well known for its strong currents, varying wind conditions, and narrow passages. Kiel River is also home to the annual Kiel Week, one of the largest sailing events in the world.
After a tricky start out of Aarhus that saw extended periods of little to no wind, Malama was quick to jump to a lead around the buoys with a good start and clean transitions, before heading southeast and away from the returning gradient. It made for a very slow first stage!
As night took hold, winds build and the fleet worked south through the baltic sea and under the Øresund Bridge, one of the longest water-crossing bridges in the world, at 15-20 knots.. An exhausting 14 gybes later and Malama was less than a mile behind Holcim approaching Kiel and the modified windward-leeward course designed to delay the trip up the harbour until afternoon. Splitting from Holcim, Malama took a strong step to the west, leapfrogging the leader and jumping out to a more comfortable seven mile lead. At the time of writing, Malama still holds on to a four mile lead heading south towards the bottom of the short lap before being able to turn west and head towards the waterfront.
There is no doubt the arrival will be chaotic! For the front of the fleet it will be a race to get in and out before Malizia and Guyot, the popular german locals, draw out what is rumored to be crowds in the thousands. The spectator wake could play a huge role in escaping north unscathed, or getting caught up in the melee. And once free from Kiel and the fjord, it’s back up the Baltic, past Aarhus and on to the Nordic Sea.
While it’s definitely odd writing this from a dry bench in The Hague, rested and relaxed, I have to imagine the sailors are feeling anything but! Their close proximity, tight quarters, and challenging conditions no doubt make for an intense, tiring stretch, likely without much sleep or a moment to pause. Fingers crossed Charlie and the squad can get through the fly by in good shape before settling into the return trip north!