Some of the best sailors and teams in the world will take up the challenge of The Ocean Race Europe next month, racing in stages from Lorient, France to Genova, Italy.
The teams will compete in two classes: the one-design, record-breaking VO65 fleet and the innovative, no-limits, IMOCA class. Female sailors will feature on every crew in the race.
The Ocean Race Europe is a new fully-crewed event on the offshore sailing calendar, providing a bridge event for 2022-23 The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race) which was postponed one year due to COVID-19.
Seven teams are expected in the VO65 class, including entries from Austria, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal. All the teams are seeing this event as the first stop on the road to the 2022-23 edition of The Ocean Race, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the race.
In the European event, new sailors will be making their competitive debut, alongside race veterans like eight-time competitor in The Ocean Race, Bouwe Bekking, who was recently announced as skipper of Sailing Team Poland.
“I think The Ocean Race Europe is a superb way to show the world that Poland is an important up and coming market, while recognizing that sustainability and respect for the environment will be key elements to successful growth,” Bekking said.
“From what I can see, many of the other VO65 teams will be taking a similar approach to what we are doing at Sailing Team Poland, by bringing in some experience and some young blood too. We have guys like myself, Pablo Arrate, Jens Dolmer, Aksel Magdhal, with a few races under our belt.
“But we’re also bringing in some great young Polish sailors – men and women – who have good achievements in Olympic classes or smaller offshore events and this is their chance to learn and grow and experience The Ocean Race.”
There will be at least five entries in the IMOCA fleet, representing France, Germany, and USA, with a possibility of up to two more teams still to confirm participation.
“We’re really looking forward to getting to grips with racing our IMOCA in a fully crewed mode,” said LinkedOut skipper Thomas Ruyant. “It changes everything, from the way the boat handles with the extra weight of the crew, to our ability to do maneuvers more efficiently.
“This also has an impact on your tactics. So it’s a lot to take in. We’re scheduling some solid training throughout May ahead of the start, to be as prepared as possible to put in a strong performance.”
The Ocean Race Europe will start from Lorient, France on May 29, with stops in Cascais, Portugal and Alicante, Spain before the finish in Genova, Italy, three weeks later. Each of the offshore legs will be scored equally. There will be two coastal races during stopovers where bonus points will be available to the top three finishers.
The Ocean Race Europe schedule:
May 29 – Leg Start – Lorient, France
June 5 – Coastal Race – Cascais, Portugal
June 6 – Leg Start – Cascais, Portugal
June 13 – Leg Start – Alicante, Spain
June 19 – Coastal Race – Genova, Italy
Each offshore leg will last approximately three to four days depending on distance and weather conditions. The coastal races will have a target time of three to five hours.
The VO65 and IMOCA fleets will be competing in separate divisions for their own The Ocean Race Europe trophy.
Prior to the race start in Lorient, four of the northern-European based VO65 teams will be sailing in The Ocean Race Europe Prologue, with stops in Klaipeda, Lithuania; Gdynia, Poland; and Stockholm, Sweden.
In addition to the on the water action, The Ocean Race Europe will support a robust sustainability programme, including education initiatives, on board science data collection, and social and environmental policy roundtable events aimed at driving solutions towards ocean health and reducing the impact of climate change on the ocean. Teams will be encouraged to fully participate through The Ocean Race Guardians Award for best sustainable practice.
Race organizers will have a strict COVID-19 protocol in place, including testing and small group ‘bubbles’ that limit interaction between sailing teams and outsiders.
The Ocean Race Europe – provisional list of entered teams:
Austrian Ocean Race Project (AUT)
Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team (POR)
Sailing Team Poland (POL)
Viva Mexico (MEX)
VO65 – team six – confirmed – to be announced
VO65 – team seven – confirmed – to be announced
11th Hour Racing Team (USA)
Bureau Vallée (FRA)
CORUM L´ Épargne (FRA)
Offshore Team Germany (GER)
The Ocean Race Europe is a new event on the offshore sailing calendar, open to the one-design VO65 class and teams sailing in a fully-crewed configuration in the IMOCA 60s. The Ocean Race Europe is providing a bridge event for 2022-23 The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race) which was postponed one year due to COVID-19, and leads off a ten-year calendar of racing activity that includes confirmed editions of the fully-crewed, around the world event – The Ocean Race – every four years, beginning now in 2022-23.
Here was the plan prior to the 2022-23 postponement:
The Ocean Race 2021-22 (formerly Volvo Ocean Race) will be raced in two classes of boats: the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which has been used for the last two editions of the race. Entries in the IMOCA 60 class will compete for The Ocean Race trophy, while those racing the VO65s will chase the Ocean Challenge Trophy.
Ten Stopovers for 14th Edition:
• Alicante, Spain: This historic Mediterranean port will host the start for the fifth consecutive edition in the autumn of 2021.
• Cabo Verde: More accustomed to having offshore teams sail by, or stop for repair, this archipelago of ten volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean will become just the second African venue the race has ever visited and the first West African nation to host the event. Details.
• Cape Town, South Africa: Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town, as the oldest urban area in South Africa, was developed by the United East India Company (VOC) as a supply station for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa, India, and the Far East. Located at latitude 33.55° S, it’s approximately the same as Sydney and Buenos Aires and equivalent to Casablanca and Los Angeles in the northern hemisphere. Details.
• Shenzhen, China: Located in the southeast, the city is a modern metropolis that links Hong Kong to China’s mainland. It’s known for its shopping destinations and features contemporary buildings, such as the 600m-tall skyscraper Ping An International Finance Centre, and a number of amusement parks. The city is a leading global technology hub and was one of the fastest-growing cities in the world in the 1990s and the 2000s. Details.
• Auckland, New Zealand: European, Polynesian, Asian, and strong Maori heritages give Auckland its distinctive culture. Located in the North Island of New Zealand, it is the most populous urban area in the country with an urban population of around 1,570,100. Details.
• Itajaí, Brazil: To the south of Rio de Janeiro, Itajaí was founded in the mid-19th century by German and Italian colonists, and is now the commercial centre and Atlantic port for an agricultural region drained by the Itajaí River and its tributaries. Details.
• Newport, USA: Located on Aquidneck Island, Newport is 74 miles south of Boston and 180 miles northeast of New York City. It is known as a New England summer resort and is famous for its historic mansions and its rich sailing history. It was the location of every challenge to the America’s Cup between 1930 and 1983. It is also the home of Naval Station Newport, which houses the United States Naval War College, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and an important Navy training center. This is the third consecutive edition of the race to stop in Newport. Details.
• Aarhus, Denmark: The course comes to the east coast of the Jutland peninsula during the spring of 2022, following a popular ‘Fly-By’ of the city during the final leg of the 2017-18 edition of the Race. Details.
• The Hague, Netherlands: This city along the North Sea coast will welcome the race for a third consecutive time, first coming as a ‘pitstop’ on the final leg of the 2014-15 edition and as the final finish port for the 2017-18 race. Details.
• Genoa, Italy: As the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, this first-time race host is Italy’s largest sea port yet remains full of grandeur as the gateway to the Riviera while offering weighty architectural heritage. Details.
Published on April 20th, 2021