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The Ocean Race Leg 7 - Day 8: Team Holcim-PRB leading IMOCAs into Med

by The Ocean Race 22 Jun 15:24 UTC 21 June 2023

While the VO65 WindWhisper has escaped into the Med, Team Holcim-PRB is charging to the front to lead the rest of the boats into Gibraltar Strait...

It's been a profitable 24 hours for Poland's WindWhisper Racing Team who have escaped from the rest of the boats racing towards the Grand Finale in Genova and stretched out to a lead of over 150 nautical miles over their nearest pursuers in the VO65 fleet.

In the short term, however, the forecast isn't in their favour. The wind is expected to ease dramatically in the western Mediterranean over the course of today before shifting from the westerly that has pushed them into the Med, to an east-northeasterly that they'll need to fight to make progress toward Genova.

The calm patch will apply to the chasing boats as well, who may need to battle this transition along with unfavourable tidal current in the Strait of Gibraltar depending on when they arrive to the Strait. And a later arrival could mean tacking into a building headwind.

On the approach to Gibraltar, Team Holcim-PRB is leading the IMOCAs, but at 1200 UTC, was in danger of losing miles to Team Malizia, positioned further south and threatening to sail around the outside of both Holcim-PRB and Biotherm.

"It's a good opportunity for us to catch up to the others," said Malizia's Will Harris, looking ahead at the transition. "There will be a light wind area and maybe a chance for us to play a card and gain some miles if we find better wind. We'll see what we find."

The light and somewhat fickle winds are taking a toll on the crews. On the VO65 Team JAJO, currently battling with Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team for second position in the VO65 Sprint, the night showed a loss, in very close quarters racing.

"It's been very painful," admitted JAJO's Jorden van Rooijen. "On the way to Gibraltar, we've been battling Mirpuri/Trifork all night. We had them seven miles behind us and now they just got a little bit of pressure, overtook us, a super-close battle, one boat length apart, and now they're just in front of us.... So we have to get them back!"

They may have already accomplished this, by holding a more southerly, direct course towards the Strait. But time will tell if this positioning pays off. The game is on.

11th Hour Racing Team Redress hearing will be on 29 June in Genova
All IMOCA Teams have been added to the Redress hearing

On Wednesday, Phil Lawrence, the Regatta Director for The Ocean Race, announced the World Sailing International Jury has provisionally scheduled the hearing for 11th Hour Racing Team's Request for Redress on 29 June at 1000. It will be an in-person hearing, in Genova.

Since the outcome of 11th Hour Racing redress hearing may affect all the fleet, the International Jury is obligated to make as fair an arrangement as possible for all boats affected and therefore wants to give the full IMOCA fleet the right to be present at the hearing to present their views and ask questions.

Accordingly, the International Jury, acting under Racing Rules of Sailing 60.3(b), will simultaneously consider redress for Team Holcim-PRB, Team Malizia, Biotherm and GUYOT environnement - Team Europe, following the collision at the start of Leg 7. The incident resulted in both 11th Hour Racing Team and GUYOT environnement - Team Europe retiring from the leg with damage and 11th Hour Racing Team subsequently lodging a Request for Redress.

The GUYOT team is sailing to its home port in France while 11th Hour Racing Team made repairs to its IMOCA and is heading towards Genova with the intention to race the last In-Port race of this edition on 1 July.

The World Sailing International Jury consists of six Jury members, including Jury Chairman Andrés Pérez. The full Jury is here:

  • Andrés Pérez IJ/IU ESP (Chair)
  • Chris Atkins IJ/IU GBR (Vice Chair)
  • Pauline Den Burger IJ NED
  • Line Juhl IJ DEN
  • George Priol IJ FRA
  • Sofia Truchanowicz IJ/IU POL
IJ = International Jurer
IU = International Umpire

A Request for Redress is reasonably common in the sport of sailing and procedures for a hearing are well established as outlined below.

The relevant section in the Racing Rules of Sailing is Rule 62.1, which reads, in part:
A request for redress or a protest committee's decision to consider redress shall be based on a claim or possibility that a boat's score or place in a race or series has been or may be, through no fault of her own, made significantly worse by... injury or physical damage because of the action of a boat that was breaking a rule...and took an appropriate penalty or was penalized...

Along with Rule 64.3. Decisions on Redress: When the protest committee decides that a boat is entitled to redress under rule 62, it shall make as fair an arrangement as possible for all boats affected, whether or not they asked for redress. This may be to adjust the scoring (see rule A9 for some examples) or finishing times of boats, to abandon the race, to let the results stand or to make some other arrangement...

The decision from the International Jury on the Request for Redress will be communicated as soon as possible after it is reached.

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