The Ocean Race: 11th Hour Racing Team win Leg 5, grab overall lead in The Ocean Race
by Peter Rush
by Peter Rush
Skipper Charlie Enright's smile was as bright as the early morning sun in Aarhus, Denmark on Monday morning as he led his 11th Hour Racing Team to a first place finish in leg 5 of The Ocean Race.
The win was doubly important; the transatlantic race is a double-points scoring leg and with the win, 11th Hour Racing Team has climbed to the top of the overall leaderboard for the first time.
"It's a good feeling to be at the top of the table," admitted Enright when he finally stepped ashore. "It's more important to be on top in July than it is now, but this is a step in the right direction.
"We've been trying to make incremental improvements in every area of the campaign," he said when asked how the team has won the last two legs. "We've done that on board the boat, we've done that on the technical side, and the logistics side as well as we set ourselves up for success everywhere in the team."
"We went into this leg knowing that we needed to be aggressive and we needed to have a good result in this leg to stand a chance in the race," added navigator Simon 'SiFi' Fisher. "So we tried to sail aggressively and we sailed our own race. I am very happy to say it worked out nicely - everybody did a tremendous job."
Nearly 4 hours after 11th Hour Racing Team won the leg, Team Holcim-PRB took a hard-earned second place finish, holding off Team Malizia who finished just five minutes behind.
"I think we've been sailing fast and as well as the others," Escoffier said. "We had a few issues - at the beginning we had to earn some trust in our (new) mast and then we broke the 24-hour record, but it wasn't quite enough.
“The new IMOCAs are quite extreme - fast but not very comfortable. I can tell you that doing 640 miles in 24-hours is definitely not comfortable!"
“But by finishing in second place, we still have it in our hands to win The Ocean Race."
For Team Malizia, the third place finish drops them further behind than they would like on the overall leaderboard, but co-skipper Will Harris was defiant and confident when asked if they could still win the race.
"Of course we can. For sure, definitely. Anything can happen in this race. You have to keep believeing all the way to the finish... there is plenty to fight for still," he said.
"We came so close to catching up to Holcim-PRB at the end there. Unfortunately we didn't quite get the result that we wanted. We really wanted to get a few more points than that."
Biotherm remains on the race course, nearing the top of Scotland, and with over 750 nautical miles to go to the finish. The team is sailing slowly, protecting the mast, and won't be in Aarhus until the end of the week.
Cover photo© Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race