Team Holcim – PRB (SUI) led the Cape Town In-Port Race presented by V&A Waterfront from start to finish in Cape Town. With the South African sun blazing down on the race course and the southerly breeze blowing 15-18 knots, conditions could not have been better for some fast and tactical competition.
A three-lap configuration on the rectangular race course would test every team’s boathandling skills on these IMOCA boats, which are not designed for turning tight corners but for going fast in straight lines for hundreds of miles.
While GUYOT environnement – Team Europe (FRA/GER) timed its start perfectly for a marginal advantage as the gun fired, it was Kevin Escoffier’s crew just to windward who were quickest to pop their blue-green hull up onto the hydrofoils and launch to an immediate and significant lead over GUYOT and the rest of the fleet.
Meanwhile Biotherm (FRA) had got stuck on a race mark even before the start gun was fired. Paul Meilhat’s crew were doing all they could to disentangle the IMOCA from the mark, while the fleet raced away ahead of them. Crewman Anthony Marchand jumped off the boat and on to the mark to protect the Biotherm hull and foils from any damage with less than 48 hours to the start of Leg 3. Reluctantly the team was forced to head for the dock, scoring 0 points from the In-Port Race.
“Unfortunately, a couple minutes before the start we hit a buoy,” said Paul Meilhat. “We were in the middle of the fleet and the buoy was hidden by the boats in front of us, so we didn’t see it until very late and then (we were boxed in by the other boats). We are lucky because it was a soft buoy where the foil made contact. We need to check but I am confident that the boat will be okay for Sunday – this is the most important thing.”
By mark one of the three-lap square course, Team Holcim – PRB had stretched to a lead of a few hundred metres. Further back was a tight battle for second, with 11th Hour Racing Team (USA) outmanoeuvring GUYOT environnement in a simultaneous gybing duel. Charlie Enright’s American crew moved up into second, with GUYOT now looking to defend third place from Team Malizia (GER), hot on their heels.
Team Holcim – PRB stretched into a 500-metre-plus lead over 11th Hour Racing Team, who in turn had extended nicely on the boats behind. Team Malizia hooked into a gust that missed GUYOT and to skipper Benjamin Dutreux’s frustration, Boris Herrmann’s crew slipped past the European boat and up into third place on the second lap.
After 43 minutes of racing, Escoffier’s crew celebrated an easy victory onboard Team Holcim – PRB, finishing more than two minutes ahead of Enright who scored a solid second for 11th Hour Racing Team. Team Malizia were third and GUYOT environnement fourth across the finish line, although still two points up on Biotherm, long since retired from the In-Port Race.
“We’re very happy,” said skipper Kevin Escoffier of Team Holcim – PRB. “We had a very good start, and we raced fast, doing safe manoeuvres, going straight and with speed. It was very shifty with Table Mountain behind us but now we can enjoy the view.”
Now the teams have less than 48 hours to make sure their minds, bodies and boats are fully prepared for the start of Leg 3 and 12,750 nautical miles of adventure through the Southern Ocean to Itajaí in Brazil.
Results and points – Cape Town In-Port Race presented by V+A Waterfront
1. Team Holcim – PRB (SUI), 5 points
2. 11th Hour Racing Team (USA), 4 points
3. Team Malizia (GER), 3 points
4. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe (FRA/GER), 2 points
5. Biotherm (FRA), 0 points
In-Port Series and Overall Race Leaderboard is here.