© Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race

And they’re off! 11th Hour Racing Team sets sail for Cascais in first race of 2021: The Ocean Race Europe

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At 13:45 CEST Saturday May 29, Charlie Enright (USA) led his team across the start line of The Ocean Race Europe, the first offshore race for the team in over 18 months.

In brief:

  • Extremely light conditions off the start line as the inaugural Ocean Race Europe gets underway.
  • Leg 1 kicked off at 13:45 CEST – destination Cascais, Portugal.
  • 11th Hour Racing Team’s five-strong crew will race nearly 2,000 nautical miles in the four-port race from Lorient, France to Genoa, Italy.

LORIENT, France (May 29, 2021)

At 13:45 CEST, 11th Hour Racing Team crossed the start line of The Ocean Race Europe – the first offshore competition for the team in over 18 months. In tricky and very light wind conditions of just 4-5 knots, the two fleets of IMOCA 60s and VO65 race boats set sail for the first stopover on the inaugural racecourse – destination Cascais, Portugal.

Speaking on the dock before they set off, Skipper Charlie Enright commented, “Within the IMOCA Class we have a diverse fleet, and just walking the dock we can see all the boats are pretty different and across multiple generations; it will be interesting to see how the boats stack up. There is not a lot known about the fully crewed environment in IMOCA, we’ll all be learning as we go along.”

On the eve of the race, Simon Fisher (GBR), the team’s navigator ran through the anticipated weather. “It’s very mixed conditions. 24 hours earlier, it looked like quite a straightforward leg with very static weather, but it has got more dynamic now – very challenging for us all.

“We are going to start the race in very light airs, downwind conditions, and offshore it looks even lighter. It will be a bit of a struggle to find the wind off the start line. We are all going to be fighting hard to get in to the better breeze that is further offshore in the Bay of Biscay. Once there it will steadily build and we will have a nice downwind sail towards Cape Finisterre,” he commented.

The Ocean Race Europe is the opening race of four slated for 11th Hour Racing Team in 2021, and the first time the Team has lined up against the highly experienced and dominantly French fleet of IMOCA 60s since the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2019.

Fisher explained, “We have been training on our own for quite a while now and this will be the first opportunity where we’ll be racing with a full crew. The Ocean Race Europe will be a good learning experience. All these boats have different features and foils so we are going to learn an awful lot about which boat goes well in each condition and how the choices we have made to date are panning out.

“It’s going to be interesting tactically as we need to choose whether we stay close to our competitors, rather than try and sail a very different course. If we split up with the other boats, and we can’t see them, we’ll be alone and won’t learn as much. Hopefully we can learn a lot from our competitors and get in to Cascais just ahead of them.”

The IMOCA 60 fleet is due to arrive in Cascais on Wednesday, June 2.

11th Hour Racing Team Crew list:
Charlie Enright (USA): Skipper
Simon Fisher (GBR)
Pascal Bidégorry (FRA)
Justine Mettraux (SUI)
Amory Ross (USA)

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