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The Ocean Race Leg 6 Finish: 11th Hour Racing Team and WindWhisper Racing earn crucial wins

by The Ocean Race 11 Jun 15:41 UTC 11 June 2023
11th Hour Racing Team winning Leg 6 in The Hague © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing / The Ocean Race

The result was in doubt until the final moments of leg 6, with 11th Hour Racing Team along with Team Holcim-PRB and Team Malizia racing within shouting distance of each other during most of Sunday morning.

The final approach to The Hague required one short upwind section where the boats were criss-crossing within metres with each tack, but skipper Charlie Enright's 11th Hour Racing Team held their nerve and made the final turn south with a small lead they would manage to hold through the finishing line.

"They crossed ahead of us, we were actually behind with about 25-30 miles to go," Enright said in disbelief at the intensity of the racing. "But a big thanks to everyone on board just never giving up the fight and digging in and always believing...

"Even when the other guys kept coming into us from behind, I think we just thought we were not gonna let them win that way. But what an unbelievable race all of these teams sailed - Holcim-PRB, Malizia, Biotherm, GUYOT. This was a tough, treacherous race course. Everybody deserves congratulations for their finish here in The Hague."

Just 12 minutes behind, Team Holcim-PRB crossed the finishing line after fending off a late charge from Team Malizia who crossed just over a minute later. The top three boats in the fleet were within 15 minutes.

"This was a very intense leg," said Team Holcim-PRB skipper Benjamin Schwartz. "We pushed as hard as we could and now we have to focus on the final leg into Genova."

The results leave the Holcim-PRB team trailing 11th Hour Racing Team by 2 points on the overall leaderboard. Malizia is a futher four points behind.

"Mixed feelings for us on this leg," said Will Harris. "Obviously happy to have been able to catch up so much in the last part of the leg, but we would have liked to grab at least one more point."

The reception in The Hague was overwhelming for Team Malizia's Dutch crew member, Rosalin Kuiper, who has grown into a star here over the course of the Race.

"This has been such a special day to be here with all of this support from friends and family," she said. "I've devoted a third of my life to professional sailing and being able to share this with all the people who have supported me is amazing."

Moments after the Malizian boat crossed the finishing line, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of The Netherlands climbed on board to welcome Rosalin and the Malzia crew.

Not far behind the leading trio, Paul Meilhat's Biotherm secured a fourth place finish over Benjamin Dutreux and his team on GUYOT evironnement-Team Europe, who returned to for the race to The Hague following a dismasting on leg 4.

In the VO65s, WindWhisper Racing Team stretched their lead at the top of the table as the fleet returned for the second stage of the VO65 Sprint.

It's two wins in a row for the team, after a victory in stage one from Alicante to Cabo Verde in January.

"Of course it's important to get the win and with Team JAJO in third place, this gives us a little bit of breathing space heading into the final race to Genova," said skipper Pablo Arrarte.

"It was a very challenging leg - we had everything you would expect in a long race packed into three days. I'm proud of the team and happy with the result."

The Mirpuri-Trifork Racing Team took a well-earned second place over the local heroes on Team JAJO, with Austrian Ocean Racing-Team Genova ahead of Viva Mexico.

"It's good to be home," said Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek. "It has been a short and hectic three day race. Awesome to arrive for this home crowd and to be cheered on by all the boats out on the water and all the fans in the harbour. We even had some spectator boats already following us from IJmuiden which was really magnificent. Now it's time for some beers, food from my mom and a short sleep!"

WindWhisper Racing Team has now opened up a three point margin on the VO65 Sprint leaderboard, but the standings behind are very close and the Grand Finale leg into Genova will be decisive.

IMOCA Scoreboard after Leg 6:

1. 11th Hour Racing Team -- 33 points
2. Team Holcim-PRB -- 31 points
3. Team Malizia -- 27 points
4. Biotherm -- 19 points
5. GUYOT environnement - Team Europe -- 2 points

VO65 Scoreboard after Stage 2:

1. WindWhisper Racing Team -- 12 points
2. Team JAJO -- 9 points
3. Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova -- 7 points
4. Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team -- 5 points
5. Viva México -- 4 points
6. Ambersail 2 -- 3 points

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