The second leg of The Ocean Race 2023 is underway with the 5 IMOCA 60s set to fight it out over 18 days as they race to Cape Town, South Africa

The second leg of The Ocean Race from Cabo Verde to Cape Town started on Wednesday 25 January, with the 5 fully-crewed IMOCA 60s fighting it out in very light winds, making for a difficult start with conditions set to remain light and tricky all the way to the doldrums.

The short stopover marked the first time The Ocean Race has visited west Africa and this island chain despite it featuring in the race course for all 14 editions as a tactical consideration on the leg from Europe down to the south Atlantic Ocean.

Although they raced in the opening leg, the VO65 fleet will not be racing to South Africa. They will rejoin the fleet for the final two legs of the race back in Europe later in the year to complete The Ocean Race Sprint Cup.

The light winds mean it will be tactically difficult race over the first days, something already playing out with teams deciding how far south to position themselves compared to making miles to the west.

“It’s a big challenge. We have to manage the wind shadow from the islands, which means we need to get south, but then the doldrums are very big and normally being further west would be safer,” said Sebastien Simon, who joined GUYOT environnement – Team Europe for this leg.

“It is a big doldrums at the moment. We’re not sure where to cross yet. It will be shifty and interesting for sure.”

It was GUYOT environnement – Team Europe leading the charge just after the start gun fired, crossing the starline first and at pace, as the fleet took on a short lap of a reaching course before heading out to sea, destined for Cape Town, some 4000 nautical miles – and around 18 days – of racing away.

On the reach out, GUYOT environnement held off Holcim-PRB to lead around the mark and on the return through he start line before heading out to sea, Stanjek and his crew showed good boat handling through the manoeuvres to lead the fleet out to sea.

A short time later, it was Leg 1 winners Holcim-PRB with 11th Hour Racing Team (second in Leg 1) to windward and in better wind, leading GUYOT einvironnement – Team Europe, Biotherm and Team Malizia.

The opening salvos already showed some differences in opinions within the fleet with Holcim-PRB, 11th Hour Racing Team and Malizia all sailing without a spinnaker, with a Code 0 being their chosen sail for the early downwind VMG sailing. GUYOT environnement and Biotherm, however, both elected to use a spinnaker, which should help them in lightwind VMG conditions.

Overnight, GUYOT environnement (sailing the only IMOCA that is not of the current generation) have fallen away from the rest of the field with the other four IMOCA all within a few miles of each other.

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