The Ocean Race will set course for Europe this Sunday. Stage 5, cataloged by the organization as the ‘battle of the Atlantic’, will start from Newport towards Aarhus (Denmark) with the attraction of seeing a great fight for the lead. And it is that up to three teams are separated by a single point at the top of the table. Team Holcim-PRB, first, has a single point advantage over 11th Hour Racing Team and Team Malizia. Biotherm, fourth, is six points behind the leader. The GUYOT envrionnement-Team Europe has it impossible, which after dismasting in Stage 4, will not participate in the stage that starts this Sunday and it remains to be seen if it will rejoin the regatta. At the moment, the ship is being shipped by freighter to Europe from Halifax, Canada. “We are doing our best to join the fleet in Europe. At the moment we don’t know exactly what the plan will be, we are working with the support of all the other teams and all the parties involved in the regatta. We don’t want to retire, we want to finish the story, that’s the most important thing for us.”, commented skipper Benjamin Dutreux
Stage 5 will start, from Newport, this Sunday at 2:15 p.m. local time (18:15 UTC / 20:15 CEST) and it will do so with a good weather forecast. Very different from last Saturday, cWith increasing winds, worsening visibility and very strong gusty showers, which forced the postponement of the In Port regatta. There will now be no separate In Port race, but the inshore section of the start will have a gate that will act as a finish line to record positions before the boats head out to sea towards Aarhus.
There is a desire to start the road back to Europe in this The Ocean Race and four IMOCA class sailboats will seek to complete this Stage 5, which scores double, with just over a month to go until the Grand Final in Genoa (Italy). The equality for the lead is maximum and Kevin Escoffier’s Team Holcim-PRB hopes to make up for it after having dismasted in the fourth stage. He has used all his energy and resources to be at the start line in Newport and the feeling is very good: “If we are still leading here in Newport it is thanks to the technical and logistical team, which has done a great job. Being here is a small miracle. The boat is great, the (spare) mast has the same performance standard we were looking for”, commented an Escoffier who has incorporated Charles Caudrelier into his team, who is the skipper with whom he sailed to victory in the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Charlie Enright, skipper of the 11th Hour Racing Team, trails Team Holcim-PRB by just one point and salvaged a challenging first half of his world tour with a victory in his hometown of Newport last week. This win catapulted the team back into the battle for the lead in the standings and “obviously it was an incredible stage for us. The ending itself was almost as if it were pre-written, like a fairy tale – we were greeted by hundreds of ships and thousands of people. It was amazing and personally, it was a dream come true.” Enright also adds Charlie Dalin to his crew for the transatlantic leg. Dalin is a two-time IMOCA world champion and will certainly add to the performance aboard the 11th Hour Racing Team. “His track record of him speaks for itself as one of the most successful offshore sailors in recent years, if not the most,” Enright noted.
Team Malizia is tied on points (18) with the 11th Hour Racing Team, also just one point behind the leader, Team Holcim-PRB. Skipper Boris Herrmann returns after sitting out on stage 4, while Yann Eliès replaces Nico Lunven. “Stage 5 will be exciting. It’s an emblematic stage of offshore racing, and it’s going to be exciting until the end… Currently, things couldn’t be better for our team and for the race in general. everything is at stake. We are quite confident in our boat and in the team and we are trying to keep making progress step by step. We hope to progress further, learn more during this stage and make it as difficult as possible for the other four teams to be at the top of the standings,” said Herrmann.
Paul Meilhat’s Biotherm will sail from fourth position, who is not ruled out in the fight for the final victory: “Yes, it is still possible to win. The boat is fast, we have a good crew and this race is not over yet. We’ve done maybe 80% of the race in terms of miles, but in terms of points we’re only halfway there. At the start in Alicante we said that we wanted to be in a position where we would have a chance in the last two stages. We are very close to it,” Meilhat warned.