On the eve of the first edition of The Ocean Race Europe, the 12 participating teams carry out their final preparations in Lorient (France) before the start of the first stage, which will depart this Saturday for Cascais (Portugal).
Divided into two classes of high-performance boats, the VO65 monotypes, identical to each other, and the IMOCA 60 box rule, The Ocean Race Europe fleet will sail first to Cascais and then to Alicante to finish in Genoa (Italy) in the middle of June.
All ocean stages will have the same score, and the coastal regattas that will take place in Cascais and Genoa will have bonus points for the top three finishers.
The powerful VO65s and IMOCA 60s with foils are capable of traveling more than 600 nautical miles (1,111 kilometers) in 24 hours under the right conditions in the open sea. During The Ocean Race Europe, crews are likely to experience changing conditions when they first set sail off the Atlantic coast of Europe, before entering the closed waters of the Mediterranean.
Offshore sailing is a demanding sport and, apart from their innate ability to sail, sailors will need to perform at their best mentally and physically to have a chance to secure a place on the Genoa podium. Sailing non-stop 24 hours a day, crews are generally divided into two four-hour watch groups to get the most out of their boats at all times, day or night.
The entry list for The Ocean Race Europe is full of big names on the professional sailing scene, including many veterans of the round-the-world edition of The Ocean Race, which was first contested in 1973 and quickly became the pinnacle of professional ocean racing.
Chuny Bermúdez de Castro, with seven times around the world behind him, is the head guard at Viva México and is looking forward to the project. “It all started two years ago, they asked me for help to help them set up the ship, cross it to Mexico, teach them how everything worked, and so on. Now I am in Marina Coruña as director, I helped them to set up their base there and to reach the starting line of the regatta ” reports.
Sinbad Quiroga, a crew member of Sailing Poland, makes his debut in a great round the world tour with The Ocean Race Europe, although ocean sailing is in his blood. “I’ve been sailing all my life, in fact my father is a professional ocean sailor too (the legendary Quino Quiroga). Bouwe (Bekking, skipper of Sailing Poland) tested me two years ago for the round the world tour and it is a pleasure to be able to sail with him and that is why I am in the Polish team. They are young, but they have a lot of energy and experience “, he claims.
This Saturday, at 1:45 local time, the VO65 and IMOCA 60 fleets will leave Lorient on the first stage of The Ocean Race Europe for Cascais down the Atlantic Ocean.
The weather forecast predicts that the fleet will experience a variety of road conditions, starting with a super light wind departure from Lorient in the Bay of Biscay, before stronger winds of up to thirty knots take center stage at the Cape. Finisterre, on the way to an obligatory waypoint in the Atlantic.
As a warm-up, this Friday the teams of The Ocean Race Europe participated in a practice regatta around the nearby Ile de Groix. With extremely light winds that could be a good preview of the conditions for Saturday’s start, the LinkedOut was the first IMOCA to finish, while The Austrian Ocean Race Project came first among the VO65 fleet.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism