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The Ocean Race Leg 6 - Day 1: Coming together in the North Sea

by The Ocean Race 10 Jun 16:51 UTC 10 June 2023
The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup 2022-23 - 9 June 2023, Leg 6 Day 1 onboard 11th Hour Racing Team. Francesca Clapcich on deck for a sail change © Pierre Bouras / 11th Hour Racing Team / The Ocean Race

The flying, foiling IMOCA fleet racing in The Ocean Race and the one-design VO65s competing in the VO65 Sprint both left Aarhus on Thursday, their race starts separated by two hours.

And while the IMOCAs turned south to race into the Kiel Fjord in front of tens of thousands of fans on Friday, the VO65s pushed north to a turning mark off the coast of Norway.

But today, the two fleets are coming together again, off the west coast of Denmark, as the 65s pass a turning mark, and the IMOCAs push south down the Danish coast.

And after their different routes, both fleets are making fast miles towards The Hague with an expected arrival on Sunday afternoon.

"We're just at the top of Denmark trying to squeeze by a little Traffic Separation Scheme," said Charlie Enright on Saturday morning, the skipper of 11th Hour Racing Team, the leading boat in the IMOCA fleet appearing visibly fatigued. "We've got Team Holcim-PRB in sight this morning. We did a nice job stretching on them last night but they've come back into us. But we're in good shape, spirits are high, even if people are tired... But I think we only have about 30 hours left so we will gut it out."

There will be a lot of that happening. This is the shortest leg of the race and while it is too long - 800 miles, nearly 3 days - to stay awake, it is also too short for most of the teams to fully implement their watch systems. So there will be tired sailors arriving in The Hague on Sunday afternoon.

11th Hour Racing Team and Team Holcim-PRB, the two leaders on the overall race points table, have made a slight break from the trailing trio of Biotherm, Team Malizia and GUYOT environnement - Team Europe. A win into The Hague would give 11th Hour Racing Team a nice margin on the leaderboard heading into the last leg towards the Grand Finale in Genova.

In the VO65 fleet it is WindWhisper Racing Team continuing to hold pole position over Team JAJO and Mirpuri / Trifork Racing, although the racing here is very close - the spread between first and fifth is less than 25 miles.

"It's been an interesting start to the leg," said Pablo Arrarte, the skipper on WindWhisper. "We've had all kinds of conditions - upwind, downwind, reaching, light wind, a lot of wind. Luckily we are leading still..."

Both fleets are expected to finish on Sunday afternoon in The Hague, with the exact ETA still uncertain as conditions near the finish are not locked in with the weather forecast yet.

But a 10 boat arrival on an extremely sunny and warm Sunday afternoon in The Hague promises to be exciting sport, and a fabulous spectacle for fans of The Ocean Race.

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