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The Ocean Race Leg 7 - Day 9: Close racing and close encounters

by The Ocean Race 23 Jun 15:41 UTC 23 June 2023

Following a frightening but ultimately harmless encounter with Orca killer whales off Gibraltar on Thursday afternoon - the MUST SEE video is below - attention is shifting back to racing on Friday.

And with all the race boats now in the Mediterranean Sea, the action is spread across the width of the Med, from Europe to Africa.

Hugging the north African coast is WindWhisper Racing Team, who have seen their once towering lead shrink by over 50 miles in the past 24 hours. They're still ahead by a century in the VO65 Sprint, leading Mirpuri / Trifork Racing Team and Team JAJO by over 100 miles, but for the first time in days, the trailing boats are making significant gains, from all the way on the other side of the Med, tacking up against the Spanish coast.

"Basically we've been match racing Team JAJO all day," said Dave Swete from Mirpuri / Trifork Racing Team. "They just sort of slam tacked on us, so they've let their intentions be known! But it's also let the Mexican team catch us as well, so it's basically a three boat race (behind WindWhisper)... It's WindWhisper's race to lose now and meanwhile we have a good battle back here."

And the Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova boat is in the mix too, just a few miles behind Viva Mexico.

Watch all the latest content from the boats here

There's no such spread in the IMOCA fleet, which is also a three boat race. It's so close that each one of Team Holcim PRB, Biotherm and Team Malizia have held the lead on the tracker at some point over the past 24 hours.

As of 1300 UTC, the spread from first to worst is under 10 miles and this three-way match race looks set to continue to the Grand Finale in Genova.

"We just entered the Med and it's sure that it is still going to be a long race," said Biotherm skipper Paul Meilhat. "We are racing really close with Holcim-PRB and Team Malizia and it's been a really good trip around the coast of France, Spain, Portugal and now into the Mediterranean.

"Our feeling is we want to finish the race quickly because we want to win, but at the same time, it is also good to have these extra moments as it's the last leg of The Ocean Race.

"We are going to see some really tricky winds... from Alicante to Genova it seems like all is possible. Maybe the last day will have very light winds so we want to stay close to the others as I think it might all be decided right at the end!"

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