Kevin Escoffier’s IMOCA team Holcim-PRB has smashed the 24-hour monohull sailing record by covering an incredible 640.9 miles in the transatlantic leg of The Ocean Race
Kevin Escoffier’s IMOCA Holcim-PRB, competing in the The Ocean Race, has annihilated the 24-hour monohull sailing record by covering an incredible 640.9 miles on the fifth leg from Newport to Aarhus.
This breaks both the pre-existing race, IMOCA and outright monohull records. In March this year Holcim-PRB set a 24-hour IMOCA record by covering a breathtaking 595.26 nautical miles (1102 kms).
Over the past two days on the transatlantic stage the team repeatedly smashed that. First they broke The Ocean Race record of 602 nautical miles, set in the last race by Simeon Tienpont’s Team AkzoNobel in a VO65 five years ago. Racing in the same conditions, 11th Hour Racing also overtook that race record, clocking 611.9 nautical miles in 24 hours.
Then Holcim-PRB clocked up 622.58 miles in 24 hours, which overtook the monohull sailing record set by the 100ft Comanche in 2015, that had held for eight years after being set in the Transatlantic Race.
However, with exceptionally high speed conditions mid-Atlantic – downwind reaching, in 25-30 knots of wind, with a relatively flat sea state – Holcim-PRB just kept adding to their mileage total, and this morning reported they had covered an incredible 640.9 miles.
Skipper Escoffier had predicted this result earlier in the day, explaining: “Yesterday, we caught up with a weather front. We passed in front of it and now we are following it on starboard tack, which gives us high speeds… The sea is flat which is rather pleasant… If it goes on like this, we will break the 24-hour record again.”
Their consistent high speeds and control are all the more impressive given the team had only restepped the mast shortly before the Leg 5 start, and had been having issues with their masthead instruments. A replacement system was first installed at the back of the IMOCA before Sam Goodchild on Wednesday climbed the mast yesterday to fix a replacement it.
“Following the dismasting we had to redo the aerials, all the brackets etc. We only had one day to validate all this, on Saturday in Newport in good sea conditions. For the start of the race, we had a bit more wind than we expected. We had a reaching leg with about 30 knots of wind. In these conditions, one of the sensors that allows us to obtain the direction and strength of the wind broke, then the second one.
“We had neither the wind strength (which allows us to choose the optimal sail), nor the wind direction (which allows us to know where the wind is coming from when we have to gybe and adapt our weather strategy). As soon as we could, we went up to the top of the mast to install a replacement aerial.
“We managed to play it by feel but it wasn’t ideal. We were making progress in terms of speed and the feeling on the boat. It’s much less good in terms of performance. It’s a consequence of our dismasting,” explained the skipper of the Swiss monohull yesterday, Thursday 25 May.
High speed collision
Racing at full bore brings its own risks, however – yesterday 11th Hour Racing reported a high speed collision which left two crew members injured. On Thursday 25 May, 11th Hour Racing activated its Hazard Button to alert Race Control and the wider fleet they had hit something, suspected to be a marine mammal.
Charlie Enright’s team, which is currently leading Leg 5, were mid-North Atlantic Ocean approximately 750 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, sailing at 29 knots when they suddenly collided with something.
The crew were thrown forward, with Charlie Dalin suffering a suspected mild concussion, and media crew member Amory Ross injuring his shoulder.
The two sailors were advised to take some bunk rest while the remaining crew – Enright, Justine Mettraux and navigator Simon Fisher raced on. The boat is reported to be undamaged.
High stakes leg
This fifth transatlantic leg is one of the most high stakes of The Ocean Race.
After Holcim-PRB won Legs 1 and 2, also taking points for being first past the Hobart scoring gate, Boris Herrmann’s Malizia won the Southern Ocean Leg 3, and 11th Hour Racing won Leg 4 (when Holcim-PRB dismasted), the three teams were separated by just two points going into Leg 5. Holcim-PRB sit on 19 points, with Malizia and 11th Hour Racing both on 18 points.
The transatlantic stage from Newport to Aarhus, Denmark is also scored as a double-points leg, giving it extra importance.
Hence many teams have bolstered their crew rosters with some impressive offshore talent: Escoffier’s team have been joined by Charles Caudrelier, the winning skipper of the last Volvo Ocean Race (on Dongfeng, which Escoffier was part of the team), and currently skipper of the multiple-record-breaking Ultime Gitana. 11th Hour Racing have also brought in Charlie Dalin, who was first home in the 2020 Vendée Globe and is a multiple IMOCA world champion having been the skipper to beat with his IMOCA Apivia.
After setting the record, Holcim-PRB had closed to within 5 miles of leg leader 11th Hour Racing, with Malizia just 60 miles behind. Biotherm are in 4th place, while Guyot environment is missing this leg after dismasting on the approach to Newport. Follow the race tracker at theoceanrace.com