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11th Hour Racing Team gets feet wet with podium finish in Defi Azimut

by The Ocean Race 16 Oct 07:51 BST
11th Hour Racing Team, Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, France Team onboard © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing

After launching their campaign this summer, the 11th Hour Racing Team, led by Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, have been focused on learning how to race the IMOCA 60 - the fast, foiling, high-performance, development class that will compete in The Ocean Race for the first time in 2021-22.

To jumpstart the learning process, the team has recruited Pascal Bidégorry, the winning navigator in the last race with Dongfeng Race Team, and an experienced IMOCA 60 campaigner.

Bidégorry and Enright will team up again later this month for the Transat Jacques Vabre, a double-handed race between France and Brazil, but last month, the pair competed together in the Défi Azimut in Lorient, France, earning an impressive podium finish in the double-handed 48-hour race in the event.

Afterwards, they spoke about the adjustments required in racing on an IMOCA 60 with a crew.

"Sailing with a full crew was a pleasant surprise after the double-handed 48-hour race we just did," Enright commented. "It was nice to have the extra hands even if it was on a boat that wasn't specifically designed for it... There's still a lot to learn."

"It's fantastic to sail with a crew on board an IMOCA 60," said Bidégorry. "We can see that with more hands onboard the manoeuvres are easier. Double-handed is a lot of management and anticipation. It's similar with the full crew, but it's much more optimal on every level - the trimming, the driving, the manoeuvres."

The boat the team is currently racing (the ex Hugo Boss) was built and configured for single-handed or double-handed racing. With a working crew of five sailors plus a reporter on board, space gets limited very quickly.

"It's a challenge to manage the ergonomics of life on board as we need to find some space to rest, eat and work on the navigation," Bidégorry noted.

"I think you'd change the cockpit layout - it's not a lot of space for everybody to do their jobs, so we have to find some real estate there," Enright said.

"But I think it's a good number for a 60-foot boat. It's up to us to figure out the best way to allocate everybody. With two people on deck over the course of a potential 40-day leg (in The Ocean Race), it could be very difficult, so we'll have to see how that goes."

But first up, more double-handed racing. The Transat Jacques Vabre is scheduled to start on October 27 from Le Havre, France.

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