Newport, Rhode Island earned its title as one of the great homes of sailing on Sunday providing beautiful conditions for the start of leg 5 of The Ocean Race.
The sunshine returned with light southwesterlies and the crowds were out in force, both on land at Fort Adams State Park and at sea, pushing in on the margins of the race course boundaries, and following the fleet as they sailed out of towards the open sea.
Skipper Charlie Enright gave the home crowd something to cheer about early, winning the start by nearly 3 boatlengths and leading the fleet through the first turning gate, but it wasn’t long before Team Malizia closed down the gap on the second leg of the race course and made the pass as the wind faded.
Stormy weather on Saturday had seen the In Port Race postponed to Sunday and the opening lap of the inshore course for the leg 5 start was scored as the Newport In Port Race.
As the fleet passed through the leaving gate for the final time, it was Team Malizia, just ahead of 11th Hour Racing Team, followed by Team Holcim-PRB and Biotherm (the results are below).
The transatlantic leg to Aarhus, Denmark is a double-points scoring race. With three teams within one point at the top of the leaderboard, leg 5 is shaping up as a very important step towards overall race victory.
See the latest positions on the race tracker
Boris Herrmann returns this leg as skipper of Team Malizia, and there is nothing his team would like more than to be leading the fleet into Europe.
“Things couldn’t be going any better for our team and for the race as a whole,” Herrmann said. “We have everything to race for… anything can happen, we need to stay focused and keep up the good work. Leg 5 is an exciting one. It is an iconic, ocean racing leg, and there is excitement up to the finish.”
“This feels like a reset, like a brand new race,” said 11th Hour Racing Team’s Charlie Enright, fresh off a famouos leg 4 victory into his hometown in Newport. “You race differently when the scores are different. Our win here was absolutely amazing, but I don’t want our team thinking that’s the pinnacle of the race. It was a good feeling, but if we do what we are setting out to do, there’s a better feeling waiting for us [at the end of the Race] in July.”
The overall race leader, Kevin Escoffier’s Team Holcim-PRB, is racing with a new mast. The team has barely had time to test the new spar, a couple of hours of sailing yesterday before the inclement weather set in.
“Obviously the first few days, we will have to regain confidence in our rig, even if the work of the technical team has been impressive,” Escoffier said. “In just a few days, we’ve managed to get a boat back into an impressive state of performance and racing, but all the boats are progressing. 11th Hour Racing Team has just put back its pair of V2 foils and has just put on new sails. Team Malizia has improved in speed. We will have to be at 100% of our skills, at 100% of the boat to hope to win in Aarhus. That’s normal. It’s a very high level race, and that’s why we’re here.”
For Paul Meilhat’s Biotherm, this double-points leg could be a final opportunity to get back into the podium race. Currently five points adrift of the top three, a victory on this leg would go a long way to changing the conversation.
“It’s a bit rough because we’re just off the pace,” Meilhat said. “We’re making progress, but so are our rivals. It’s kind of hard because it feels like we’re playing with different weapons to the others… We need to keep our heads down and focused on our goals. Being here, being a part of this crazy adventure, is already quite something and we’re doing really well. Added to that, we’re alive, we’re not far behind the others and there are 10 points up for grabs in this leg!”
Newport In Port Race Results
1. Team Malizia
2. 11th Hour Racing Team
3. Team Holcim-PRB
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe – did not start
The leaderboards for the In Port Race Series and the overall race are here