No respite for sailors in the Leg 3 of The Ocean Race
On the images sent by Julien Champolion, the onboard reporter, the faces on board Holcim-PRB are often tense and the bodies always clinging to a handrail. Only the record beaten last weekend and the passage in the lead of the longitude 143° East have relaxed the faces, the time to sketch a quick smile to take the pose and immortalize these important moments for the race but also in a life of offshore racer. In these images, Kevin Escoffier, Abby Ehler, Sam Goodchild and Tom Laperche have an open look on their faces and seem happy. It's as if all of a sudden, at the end of these 595.2 miles covered in 24 hours, time has stood still. But it hasn't!
Now in the Pacific, the sailors of the GO CIRCULAR project are resisting every wave jump and are still heading east, more focused than ever. Always in the lead, they are scanning the weather charts and keeping an eye on their competitors, most of whom have revealed some technical problems. Holcim-PRB is for the moment preserved and the potential revealed by the boat since the start in Cape Town is subjugating. Charlie Dalin, the first to cross the line in the last Vendée Globe, praised Holcim-PRB's speed and the strength of the crew in an interview with The Ocean Race yesterday.
While the other boats are sailing further north, Kevin Escoffier chose to gybe last night to get a little closer to the ice limit, thus slightly limiting the route to Cape Horn. The green and blue monohull continues to rely on a solid northeasterly flow (between 25 and 30 knots) to continue to plot her course. The sideways shift puts Malizia very close to Holcim-PRB (17.6 miles in the 17:00 HF rankings). This adds a bit of pressure on the leader, who seems determined not to change anything in his method, as Kevin Escoffier explained this afternoon.
“I'm not looking too much the others behind. I'm trying to sail the way I know how, as a good sailor, by making the boat work. We have to stay focused because we know that's the only way to avoid technical problems and mistakes during maneuvers. That's what I try to do and repeat on board. It is really important. I'm looking at Itajaí, getting the crew and the boat there in top shape. If that's the case, then the contract will be fulfilled.”
In first position since the start, Holcim-PRB has set the cursor without constantly having a reference close by and by exploiting conditions that are sometimes different from those of its competitors. Since yesterday, Malizia has benefited from a more favorable weather and wind angle and has gained a lot of ground. It is threatening Holcim-PRB's leadership on the map. The commitment of each team makes the match magnificent and the shots of each are placed on the long run. So we'll have to wait for the rest of this suspenseful scenario to see if Holcim-PRB has positioned their pieces well as Kevin Escoffier explains.
“Malizia has a placement that we couldn't have in all cases. We may have forced the issue a bit with our choice of route in the south yesterday. Only time will tell. But when you're in front, it's not easy in terms of strategy because you don't have the same wind as the chasers who are coming in with the new wind. Each time, we have managed to keep a bit of a lead.”
More than 6,000 miles remain to be raced and as many small and large placements are to be made. Enough to fully satisfy the four competitors of the Swiss monohull.
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