The Ocean Race Europe - Saturday 29th May

Ocean Race Europe - Position check

Notice the two differing approaches taken across the board, irrespective of class. The more Northerly coastal route vs heading further out to sea, hoping that more wind will make up for extra distance.

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Zooming out for the bigger picture, vhe forecast seems to have changed since we took a look yesterday.
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I'm sticking with the more direct route for now but this is only based on one forecast product, i.e. the wind overlay on the official tracker. Teams have many forecast models and charts to compare.
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I plan to check again tonight for updates.
 
Ocean Race Europe - Sunday night update

Team Childhood lead the VO65s, while Offshore Team Germany lead the IMOCA 60s.

Area overview with wind overlay.
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Slight zoom in with focus on VO65 fleet
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Slight zoom in with focus on IMOCA 60 fleet

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The official article was published early in the afternoon and so it's table is out of date but otherwise a good account to that point in time. A fast start to a long, interesting leg from Alicante to Genova

Official highlights:

Leg 3 Start Highlights | The Ocean Race Europe 2021​


 
Ocean Race Europe - Tracking after 24 Hours - Foils vs no foils

Having passed the mandatory markers, there is no official constraint on the route teams choose to take. We can see three main routing strategies so far. It's interesting how the boats have mostly grouped according to class.

The four foiled IMOCAs have been taking an Easterly route where there was a bit more wind and foil drag was less of an issue. They will be taking a calculated gamble on beneficial winds emerging which will give them a speed advantage over the others. This group has now turned North Eastwards and will be aiming to overtake the VO65s.

All but one of the VO65's have been heading to the coastal waters of Mallorca. In fact Sailing Poland, in that group, has just taken the lead. What this group does next will be interesting. Can they stay ahead of the foiled IMOCAs?

Only two boats are following the theoretical route shown by the dotted line. These are Team Childhood 1, which was leading some minutes ago, Offshore Team Germany, the only IMOCA without foils.

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Ocean Race Europe - Slow going

Sailing Poland lead the VO65 group as they creep along the Mallorca coast at speeds varying from 2 to 5 kts. I wonder if they will make their way to the theoretical route before Minorca. To the North West of Mallorca, although Team Childhood have fallen to the back of the VO65 class, both they and the non-foiled IMOCA Offshore Team Germany are a bit faster than the rest at over 7 kts. The rest of the IMOCAs are led by LinkedOut at around 4 kts, with Bureau Vallee trailing at 2 kts.

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Ocean Race Europe - Sailing Poland lead; foiled IMOCAs trailing behind.

Sailing Poland have aced this part of the race and are over 7 nm ahead of their nearest rival. Offshore Team Germany are 20 nm ahead of the foiled IMOCAs and just behind VO65 Team Childhood 1. Yet again we see that foils are more of a hindrance than a help in such light winds. The only hope of redemption for the four foiled IMOCAs is perhaps with the stronger breeze in the Gulf of Lyon sweeping down from the mountains.

It looks quite light though, despite the reputation for some brutal winds and sea states. The other boats will be keenly watching the AIS as Sailing Poland encounters these winds first. Any changes in boat speed will give them clues on where they need to be ready.

The wind overlay was smudged so I moved it on to +6h
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Checked the official page for the Daily Fix but didn't find it there. Thankfully it is on Youtube. Nothing from Seawolves since the last finish and the two interviews.

Daily Fix Episode #8 | The Ocean Race Europe​


The official article for Monday mentions wind holes and very light winds for the coming week:

Breakaway moves deliver mixed results in The Ocean Race Europe​

It’s a light air chess game on the Mediterranean as IMOCA and VO65 fleets split and play high stakes game of risk and reward

Breakaway moves deliver mixed results in The Ocean Race Europe
 
Ocean Race Europe - Sailing Poland in front; Offshore Team Germany 70nm ahead of other IMOCAs

Here is an overview of the area so we can see relative positions on the route and wind systems.
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Sailing Poland have held on to their overall lead. The VO65s have left all but one of the IMOCA 60s far behind. Offshore Team Germany are not that far behind the VO65s but are 70 nm ahead of the other IMOCAs. We can't directly compare them as they took two different routes. However, I suspect that foils dictated strategy to some extent. Here we can see Offshore Team Germany to the North and LinkedOut to the South, both about to enter the stream of Mistral winds. This is where LinkedOut could have a speed advantage over
Offshore Team Germany. Will it be enough though? They also need to avoid exiting the Mistral into a windless area to the East. There is another (red) IMOCA under the yellow boat graphic on the map below.

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It's looking a bit patchy ahead as the speeds of the leading boats drop. Sailing Poland has 220 nm of this to sail through during which it looks like winds will drop out almost completely. This is going to be a very testing finish. The IMOCAs with foils are not designed for these conditions. This will be another affirmation that Jean Le Cam was right that non-foiling IMOCAs should not be forced out of competitions by any future rules.
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Ocean Race Europe - Class leaders extend their lead; Thursday finish for some?

There won't be a close and compact finish for this leg, as it will likely be spread over at least two days. Teams who finish sooner will obviously get more downtime in preparation for the coastal race. Hopefully everyone will have arrived in Genoa before Sunday.

Overall leaders, Sailing Poland are over 25 nm ahead of the nearest competitor. The most dramatic class lead though is that of Offshore Team Germany (OTG) who have extended their lead over the other IMOCAs to over 82 nm. At current speeds that's over half a day ahead.

It's tempting to wonder if Sailing Poland has a possibility of finishing on Wednesday night but it looks like winds will flatten out and slow them down, so Thursday is perhaps more likely. It will be interesting to compare OTG with the VO65s in front of them. Will OTG manage to catch up with them?

VO65s highlighted:
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IMOCA 65s highlighted:
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Ocean Race Europe - Sailing Poland leads with 140 nm to go.

Offshore Team Germany (OTG) now leads the other four IMOCA boats by 97 nautical miles! OTG are also less than 19 miles behind the last VO65, The Austrian Ocean Race Project.

In the screen grab below it is evident just how far back the group of four IMOCAs are. At times it has looked like they were essentially adrift. This must be very frustrating but there is still a race for them within the class.
OTG have proven that an Open 60 (without foils) can keep up with VO65s in light winds. It would be interesting to find out if the foilers lost out because of foils, strategy or both but on balance all four seem to have been reasonably well matched. (ETA - the split is explained in the Tuesday article, extracts below!)

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The following extracts from the official article explain the initial split of the IMOCAs. It seems it wasn't a strategy by OTG after all but rather it was forced on them. Note the time stamp.

Leaders extend in new breeze but more calms ahead before Leg 3 finish​

The northernmost boats in the fleet have made good miles, but there are plenty of challenges ahead...
June 15, 2021 15:03 UTC

In the IMOCA 60 class the northern route taken by Robert Stanjek’s non-foiling Offshore Team Germany has continued to pay dividends.

“We never planned to split from the other IMOCAs,” said Stanjek. “But all of our weather routings were all north of the Balearics. So to us it was obvious we go this way to the coastline. Some of the others did as well. But then somehow we found a lane where we were lifted brutally away from the fleet. Within a few hours the separation was so big… It was never our plan to split, but a chance opened and we took it. And now it is like two different races. Four of the IMOCAs are south and they are sailing their race and we have to sail ours.”

“All of the foiling IMOCAs are close together (this morning) off the coast of Mallorca,” said Pip Hare on Bureau Vallée. “Offshore Team Germany went north of the Balearic Islands, which was a punchy move and it looks like it may pay off for them - they’re looking good. We’re all battling it out on the south side though. It’s very close racing. We’ve had complete (wind) shut-downs and then at one stage we were doing 16 knots upwind. It’s great. Let’s see where it goes!”

Well that was interesting! Lets see what Niall makes of it all in Tuesday's episode of The Daily Fix.

ETA - Very, very informative. Niall and the team have been paying a lot of attention to what's going on on the boats. Lots of details that might otherwise be missed. He crams a lot in to these shows.

 
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Ocean Race Europe - Wednesday morning progress

Both the class leaders, Sailing Poland and Offshore Team Germany, lost some advantage overnight when the winds dropped out. Notice the winds on the tracker which Sailing Poland and Team Childhood 1 appear to be sailing towards. I don't recall that being forecast on the wind overlays last night. It must be something of a relief to the four IMOCAs at the back of the race, with occasional speeds over 10 kts this morning.

As we saw on the Daily Fix, heat has been uncomfortable for crews with lack of shade and no respite below deck. These winds are from Africa though, rather than from the French mountains. It looks like winds may drop out again later.

Sailing Poland have less than 100 nm to Genova and Offshore Team Germany less than 140 nm so a Wednesday finish for them but seems a tantalising possibility. The wind is forecast to drop out though.

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Ocean Race Europe - Sailing Poland's lead now under threat; Offshore Team Germany problems?

The leading three boats are within 6.5 nm of each other. The race for first place is definitely back on and all VO65s are making over 9 kts.

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Offshore Team Germany have been closely hugging the coast but are now heading for the better winds. Have they had a problem or was it planned? Previously it looked like their route North of Ibeza had been tactical but the team said it was more or less forced on them. Could there be a weakness with the autopilot? Here is part of their track. It looks somewhat erratic.
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Behind them the other IMOCAs are gaining, all with over 10 kts.
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ETA

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Planned then, maybe..

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This is obviously EU oriented but does have environmental aims of protecting the world's oceans. I didn't know if that extended to factory ships such as those based in the EU that had been harvesting the seas around the British isles using electric shock to bring fish to the surface so I checked. Apparently pulse fishing has been banned. Good. That is welcome news. EU approves ban on electric pulse fishing from 2021
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Ocean Race Europe - Wednesday finish now looks increasingly likely for some. Will a last minute lull stop them in their tracks?

So far boat speeds are holding up making a finish look likely for some of the VO65s tonight but are they racing in to the compression of a windless void? If so all bets are off on who will win.

The first five boats are making over 9 kts but not double figures. If the wind overlay is to be believed there is 16 kts sweeping down from the North but three hours later it is due to drop out. Do I trust the forecast? No. This current overlay looks like one of those anomalies we encounter on the tracker used by Vendee Globe and Ocean Race Europe. The next one looks much more realistic.
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Here is the Marine Traffic wind overlay, with 5 kts dropping to 0 kts nearer to Genova. This seems closer to reality, unfortunately. Lets hope teams can find their way through on any puffs of wind they can find.
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The following is the Windfinder forecast for Genova, although inshore breezes can be a bit stronger.
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Ocean Race Europe - Official afternoon update

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Some excerpts from the article:

“We’re trying to push hard for sure,” said Stanjek from on board the German boat. “But it's just very tricky on this coastline. Overall, I'm very happy with the sailing on a big lead over the rest of the fleet. We just have to sail our race and bring it home safe. But we have to stay focussed – it’s not a given.”

“Well, we're sailing these ocean-going machines inside the Mediterranean Sea, so it's very complicated,” said 11th Hour Racing Team’s Charlie Enright. “There's not a lot of wind and they don't go well in not a lot of wind. So you need to squeeze every ounce of performance out of them or you may never get started again if you stop. And we've done more manoeuvres in this leg probably than we have in the rest of the race combined already. So it's really tricky. And you got to stay on your game.”

Latest estimates predict that the earliest arrivals in Genova would be near midnight tonight, but there is significant uncertainty in that ETA. If the wind holds as it is, the leading VO65s could arrive over two hours earlier. But if the wind dies out as forecast, the boats could be drifting, becalmed, within just miles of the finishing line well into the morning hours.

There’s more of that ahead, with another night of light winds and calm areas forecast before the IMOCA fleet finds its way to Genova on Thursday.


Fleets compress as light winds continue on the approach to leg three finish in Genova
 
Ocean Race Europe - Sailing Poland runs out of wind! Foilers have crossed Gulf of Lion.

The wind has completely dropped out as forecast. With less than 28 nm to go, Sailing Poland are barely moving. Compression has begun as successive VO65s run in to still air. Teams will be keen to make use of anything they can to maintain forward momentum as long as possible. Some very light wind is due to return in coming hours. This could be a close finish, depending on who catches the breeze first.

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ETA

Daily Fix Episode #10 | The Ocean Race Europe​


 
Ocean Race Europe - Mirpuri have found wind and take the lead! Less than 23 nm to the finish line.

The wind overlay wasn't giving anything meaningful, just a green colour. Marine traffic shows 2 to 6 kts.
Sailing Poland are slowly picking up speed but are already 3 nm behind Mirpuri who are making 12 kts. AkzoNobel are somehow making 13 kts. After a period of dormancy the race is coming alive again.
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Offshore Team Germany have been unable to capitalise on the compression but they have almost held their distance from the back of the VO65s.
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Ocean Race Europe - Mirpuri lead, AkzoNobel second, Team Childhood 1 currently in third.

Sailing Poland just haven't been able to fill their sails quick enough or full enough to keep up their lead. Wind seemed to strengthen further back giving some of the others the advantage.
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Offshore Team Germany's lead has reduced to 40 nm but there is no sign of the other IMOCAs being able to catch up. OTG should arrive Thursday, possibly by midday if the wind holds. The four foilers are now within 10 nm of each other and could start arriving from Thursday evening but again wind could be awkward.
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Ocean Race Europe - Mirpuri about to finish within the hour

It's dark so any live video if it happens will be closer in to shore.
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ETA Sailing Poland have regained third position for now. Here are some official tweets:

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ETA 2
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Ocean Race Europe - Mirpuri have finished Leg 3, first in the VO65 class

Well, what a result for Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team! The race continues for the two classes. Unless they are becalmed in the meantime, AkzoNobel Ocean Racing will almost certainly take second in the early hours of Thursday morning. It seems that Team Childhood 1 have met a pool of still air giving Sailing Poland free reign to third place on Thursday but they still have 18 Nautical Miles to go. A lot can happen in that time, as we have seen. The coastal race on Sunday (I think) could be pivotal in the final scores.

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Sailing Team Germany still lead the IMOCA 60 class.
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Ocean Race Europe - Live Finish Blog and Live video (or watch later)

The Live Finish Blog is here: https://www.theoceanrace.com/en/news/12891_Live-Leg-3-Finish-Blog.html

I've been checking for a live feed on the official site and YouTube only to find they started streaming nearly half an hour ago. No matter we can watch it from the start of the feed. Length is less than 15 minutes.



AkzoNobel should arrive around 01:15 BST with coverage starting perhaps at 01:00 BST.

Update at 01:00
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Signing off for now. I'll try and pick this up again sometime later in the morning.
 
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Ocean Race Europe - All VO65s have finished leg 3; Offshore Team Germany first IMOCA to finish.

VO65 top three of leg 3

1 Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team
2 AkzoNobelOcean Racing
3 Sailing Poland

IMOCA

1. Offshore Team Germany

An impressive win by Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team. Great that Sailing Poland managed third after being thwarted by a drop out in the wind so close to the finish.

A great win for Offshore Team Germany who showed what can be done with an older IMOCA, without foils.
In The Daily Fix on Wednesday we saw that 11th Hour Racing Team were having to manually steer in light winds. As skipper Charlie Enright said, the winds were too light and changing direction too much for the boat's autopilot computer to deal with.

The next boats to arrive should be LinkedOut and 11th Hour Racing Team, perhaps just after 13:00 BST.

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Live Leg 3 Finish Blog
 
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