At 13:45 CEST today, Saturday May 29, Charlie Enright led the Team across the start line of The Ocean Race Europe, ending the Team’s offshore racing hiatus of more than 18 months.
In tricky and very light wind conditions of just 4-5 knots, the two fleets of IMOCA 60s and VO65 race boats set sail for the first stopover on the inaugural racecourse – destination Cascais, Portugal.
Speaking on the dock before the crew set off, Skipper Charlie Enright commented:
“Within the IMOCA Class we have a diverse fleet, and just walking the dock we can see all the boats are pretty different and span across multiple generations. It will be interesting to see how the boats stack up. There’s not a lot known about the fully crewed environment in IMOCA, we’ll all be learning as we go.”
On the eve of the race, Simon Fisher, our Team’s navigator ran through the anticipated weather:
“It’s very mixed conditions. 24 hours ago it looked like quite a straightforward leg with very static weather, but it has gotten more dynamic now – very challenging for us all. We are going to start the race in very light airs, downwind conditions, and offshore it looks even lighter.
It will be a bit of a struggle to find the wind off the start line. We are all going to be fighting hard to get in to the better breeze that is further offshore in the Bay of Biscay. Once there it will steadily build and we will have a nice downwind sail towards Cape Finisterre.”
The Ocean Race Europe is the opening race of four slated events for 2021 and is the first time the Team has lined up against the highly experienced, and dominantly French fleet of IMOCA 60s since the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2019. Although we have spent a good chunk of time on the water training in a crewed configuration, we haven’t been able to see how we measure up against the rest of the fleet. The majority of our fellow IMOCA competition has been racing competitively since we saw them last. As recently as January, many of the sailors walking the pontoons in Lorient crossed the finish line for the Vendée Globe 2020, the nonstop, single-handed race around the world.
“We have been training on our own for quite a while now and this will be the first opportunity where we’ll be racing with a full crew. The Ocean Race Europe will be a good learning experience. All these boats have different features and foils so we are going to learn an awful lot about which boat goes well in each condition and how the choices we have made to date are panning out.
It’s going to be interesting tactically, as we need to choose whether we stay close to our competitors, rather than try and sail a very different course. If we split up with the other boats, and we can’t see them, we’ll be alone and won’t learn as much. Hopefully we can learn a lot from our competitors and get in to Cascais just ahead of them.”
The IMOCA 60 fleet is due to arrive in Cascais on Wednesday, June 2. Head on over to our Leg 1 ‘Daily Download’ to get the latest team position and onboard updates from the racecourse.
11th Hour Racing Team Crew list:
- Charlie Enright (USA): Skipper
- Simon Fisher (GBR)
- Pascal Bidégorry (FRA)
- Justine Mettraux (SUI)
- Amory Ross (USA)