It was very close for the top three boats at the finish of The Ocean Race leg 2, which saw Kevin Escoffier's Team Holcim - PRB take a second win
At sunrise on Sunday 12 February, four teams were in the fight for the leg win, with Biotherm, 11th Hour Racing Team and the Holcim – PRB crews racing in lockstep in light and changeable conditions.
Team Malizia was some 20 miles to the south, but then spent the next three hours just about sailing around the leading trio. But the light and fickle winds didn’t hold for them and in the end it was a three boat race among the northern trio.
Just three hours before the finish, Escoffier and his team finally popped up at the head of the rankings, having been able to sail a slightly better angle at a similar speed towards Cape Town, creating the narrow separation necessary to eke out a winning position.
This is the second consecutive leg win for Escoffier and his team, who maintain a perfect record, and will extend their advantage on the race leaderboard.
“Biotherm had a huge night last night but for us, we knew we had to find the leeward (northern position) before the Cape Town coast,” Escoffier said. “We did a lot of sail changes and work to get this position. It took until about 40 miles from the finish line to get where we wanted to be and hold it to the end.”
This is the second consecutive leg win for Escoffier and his team, who maintain a perfect record, and extend their advantage on the race leaderboard.
Just 16 minutes behind came Paul Meilhat‘s Biotherm. This is a team that looks to be fast in the light conditions that were such a big factor in the last 36 hours of the race.
“We know that our boat and crew have good potential and we can race [competitively] against the others,” Meilhat said. “This is a long race and I think it is going to be close like this all the way to the end.”
Less than 10 minutes later came 11th Hour Racing Team, who had worked hard all leg to be in a strong position for the finish, but in the end slipped into third place.
Skipper Charlie Enright said: “We are a little disappointed with a third place after 17 days, but the bigger picture to take home is that we sailed the boat fast and well, and I think that bodes well for the future. This race is a marathon and not a sprint, and we have a big doubler pointer coming up with Leg 3 through the Southern Ocean.”
Team Malizia, after pushing forward early in the day on Sunday, couldn’t make their southern position stick and settled for fourth.
“Everyone raced their hearts from the word ‘go’, but the result was down to a bit of luck,” said skipper Will Harris. “In the end we tried a different option, aiming to go for glory rather than nothing at all, and in the end it didn’t pay off unfortunately. The winners must have sailed a great race to get to the finish.”
The early leader during the leg from Cabo Verde, and through the equator crossing, Guyot Environment – Team Europe fell to the back of the pack on the descent into the south Atlantic. After trailing by over 500 miles, the team took advantage of the weather conditions to bring stronger winds back to the fleet and close the gap. But in the end it wasn’t enough.
“We came back, drove the boat fast and fought until the end,” said skipper Robert Stanjek. “In the end, we came in just a few hours after the others – after 18 days. A great stage. We are fifth. There is nothing to discuss. But the performance was great. We’ll take a lot of learning with us into the next leg.”
The teams are in Cape Town until 26 February when the longest leg in the history of the race – 12,700 nautical miles to Itajai, Brazil starts.
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