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11th Hour Racing 2021 - OCT15 - LEADERBOARD

11th Hour Racing Team line up for first race of 2021: The Ocean Race Europe

by 11th Hour Racing Team 28 May 23:41 BST 29 May 2021
11th Hour Racing Team © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing

11th Hour Racing Team's first offshore race in over 18 months will start this weekend in France as they prepare to take on The Ocean Race Europe.

The brand new event will see two fleets - one of IMOCA 60s and the other of VO65s - on a four-port dash around Europe. Setting off from Lorient in France, the fleet will head south to Cascais in Portugal, through the straits of Gibraltar to Alicante, Spain, with a final push to the finish in Genoa, Italy.

Speaking before departure, skipper Charlie Enright (USA) commented, "We are beyond excited to get going, it's been a long time since we've been on a racecourse. Walking the dock here in Lorient, seeing our competitors, we don't know exactly where we stand since we haven't been able to do much competitive sailing. It's a good shakedown at the beginning of the season with a lot of meaningful events towards the end of the year, so plenty of time to make changes."

The 2,000 nautical mile (2,300 mile / 3,700 kilometer) race is the first ever with IMOCA 60s in a fully crewed configuration and will see 11th Hour Racing Team face off in the IMOCA fleet against Bureau Vallée, CORUM L'Épargne, LinkedOut and Offshore Team Germany.

"We have had a number of modifications to our boat over the winter refit and the teams in France have been able to sail pretty much throughout the pandemic. It is an interesting group of boats: all types of naval architects are represented and they are all going to have their strengths and weaknesses. I'm looking forward to seeing how we line up," commented Enright.

Life onboard IMOCA 60s in the fully crewed configuration is, at best, uncomfortable. Designed for one sailor, the team has spent time this winter to make livability onboard more bearable. "Compared to what life was like onboard a VO65, it is at best, 'ok'," commented Pascal Bidégorry (FRA). "We work efficiently and we are a close team but it can feel violent onboard. We have gotten used to living closely alongside each other and it will be good to be back out racing again."

While competing, 11th Hour Racing Team will be conducting scientific research with live-streamed data being sent back off the boat. Two organizations will receive the data: scientists at EuroSea, a European Commission funded program that improves the ocean observing and forecasting system, and also the Surface Ocean Carbon Dioxide Atlas (SOCAT) which provides data for the Global Carbon Budget, a year assessment of CO2 that informs target and predictions for carbon reduction. The onboard OceanPack RACE will measure dissolved carbon dioxide, sea surface temperature and sea surface salinity.

Navigator Simon Fisher (GBR), known as SiFi, is passionate about the onboard Citizen Science program. "I have been lucky to be in this sport - a veteran! - for over twenty years, and it's great to do what I do. But now, with the onboard science program, this is our chance to give something back to the sport, back to society, the environment and the wider community; it's nice to be racing with an additional purpose."

Newport, Rhode Island resident Amory Ross (USA) will take on a more hands-on role for this race as he acts as both sailor and media crew member, capturing the content from the racing. Ross spends time before each Race studying the natural habitats the team will sail through. "It is extremely important to know a lot about where you are going, so we can be familiar with what we may see, we can sail responsibly and respectfully of the sea life, and it helps me to know where to look and what to look for. I've been learning about the Bay of Biscay and Galicia, at the top western coast of Spain and thanks to the deep water canyons, it is one of the best places in the world to find Beaked Whales which are rising close to the shore for giant squid. Although we spend little time on deck in IMOCA 60s, I'll be keeping a close eye out for a sighting."

Swiss skipper Justine Mettraux is excited to get started: "It's good to be back in the water, and we have a nice racecourse ahead of as. The level is high, and we are competing against some really strong teams. I am confident we will see some great action in the IMOCA class with everybody striving to snatch the pole position. This will be an interesting opportunity for us to see where we are at as a team and how we are performing with our current setup."

"We are eager to see the 11th Hour Racing Team competing again, and how the IMOCA 60 performs with a crew of four sailors and a media crew member," noted Rob MacMillan, co-founder, and president of 11th Hour Racing. "After spending so much time in isolation, lining up on an actual race course with existing IMOCA teams will give us a chance to see how our Team measures up in preparation for The Ocean Race. We are also excited about the opportunity to sail into the Mediterranean Sea and connect with local organizations throughout Europe to explore the global issue of biodiversity and the topic of Marine Protected Areas."

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