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Shirley Robertson in Alicante for the start of The Ocean Race

by Shirley Robertson 19 Jan 03:08 GMT 19 January 2023
11th Hour Racing - The Ocean Race - Leg 1 - January 17, 2023 © Amory Ross/ The Ocean Race

This month's edition of Shirley Robertson's Sailing Podcast comes from the Spanish port of Alicante, long time home to the Ocean Race, as the fourteenth edition of this famous round the world adventure gets underway with a dramatic new look.

On what is the fiftieth anniversary of what was originally called the Whitbread Round The World Race, then became famous as the Volvo Ocean Race and is now being sailed as simply The Ocean Race, Shirley Robertson presents her podcast from the start of the thirty two thousand nautical mile odyssey. In this edition she talks to skippers and crew members from each of the five foiling IMOCA entrants, and catches up with Ocean Race Co-President, Johan Salen, to talk thorough the class changes, and the future of the Race.

Now being sailed in the IMOCA class, the superfast foiling monohulls more familiar to Vendee Globe fans, much of the dockside chat was over sailing these solo-orientated speed machines with a crew, and how sailing from the almost fully covered cockpits was a huge departure for this race.

British offshore sailor Will Harris, sailing the Race with Boris Herrmann's "Team Malizia" explains...:

"We're always looking at the sensors and the numbers because when you're inside these boats that's really all you've got to go off, it's how these boats are sailed now, it's not so much about what you feel in the helm, or what you feel by looking at the sails."

American entrant Charlie Enright of '11th Hour Racing Team' is skippering his third Ocean Race, but is comparatively new to the IMOCA Class. Much of his discussion with Robertson is around the adoption of the new class, and how sailing fully foiling with crew in the covered cockpit presents plenty of challenges..."

"It almost requires a more natural sailor, because you are trying to do it with less feedback, if that makes sense, so it's more seat of the pants, it's more feeling, it's really unique to be sailing inside and down below."

From 'Holcim PRB', French offshore skipper Kevin Escoffier is of similar opinion...: "You have to discover new ways of feeling it, the vibration, the sounds of the foils...anybody who has sailed a dinghy will know, if they close their eyes, they will feel the boat."

This edition of The Ocean Race is a fascinating new era, and the discussions within the podcast certainly reflect that. Revealing the decisions made to move the Race forward, Robertson's talk with Co-President of the Race, Johan Salen makes for interesting listening, Robertson also talks to two time Volvo Ocean Race sailor Annie Lush, sailing this edition on the European flagged 'Guyot environnment' and to IMOCA regular, Route du Rhum winner Paul Meilhat, skippering 'Biotherm'.

The podcast also features short guest appearances with one time Volvo Ocean Race winner Ian Walker and previous Volvo skipper Sam Davies.

Part One..:

Part Two…:

This edition of the podcast is in two parts and is available to listen to via the podcast page of Shirley’s own website - or via most popular podcast outlets, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and aCast. The podcast is produced and written by Tim Butt - for further enquires, please contact Sailing photo courtesy of Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race

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