The sixth leg of the IMOCA class and the second leg of the VO65 category of the Ocean Race has finished. At 800 nautical miles, it was one of the shortest legs of the entire regatta, but not the easiest. In just under a week, the boats have reached the finish line. This Sunday they disembarked in The Hague, a city in the west of the Netherlands on the North Sea coast.
The final result was a mystery until the very last moment as the 11th Hour Racing Team, Team Holcim-PRB and Team Malizia sailed close together for most of Sunday morning, and it was as tight as ever. With Team Malizia struggling the most to make up the distance they had lost in the previous days.
Approaching The Hague the boats crossed each other within a few meters on every tack, but skipper Charlie Enright's 11th Hour Racing Team held firm and tacked south for the last time with a small lead that they managed to maintain all the way to the finish line. And, as a result, the victory once again.
Victory that gives the 11th Hour Racing Team a good margin in the standings heading into the final leg to the Grand Final in Genoa.
"They crossed in front of us, we were behind and there were only about 25-30 miles to go," Enright said in disbelief at the intensity of the race. "But a thank you to everyone on board, they never give up and they push hard and always believe in winning...".
Second across the finish line was Team Holcim-PRB who had to fight and fend off a last-ditch attack from Team Malizia, who finished just over a minute later. The top three boats in the fleet finished in less than 15 minutes.
The results leave Team Holcim-PRB 2 points behind the 11th Hour Racing Team in the overall standings. Malizia is another four points further back. In the end, everything has stayed pretty much the same as at the end of Leg 5, but with one leg to go, both the positions and the points gap have remained the same on this sixth leg.
Already in fourth place, Paul Meilhat's Biotherm secured its place ahead of GUYOT evironnement-Team Europe, who were back on this sixth stage after retiring after dismasting on stage 4.
As far as the VO65 category is concerned, the WindWhisper Racing Team, skippered by Spaniard Pablo Arrarte, consolidated its leadership after this second leg. Two wins in a row make the Polish team an outstanding leader, cementing that top spot in the standings.
"It's important to get the win and leave Team JAJO in third place, as it gives us some breathing space ahead of the final leg to Genoa," said skipper Pablo Arrarte.
Mirpuri-Trifork Racing Team, skippered by Roberto 'Chuny' Bermudez de Castro, took a well-deserved second place, ahead of Team JAJO, Austrian Ocean Racing-Team Genoa was fourth and the last place went to Viva Mexico.
The WindWhisper Racing Team has a three-point lead in the overall VO65 Sprint Cup standings. However, the standings remain close and tight, making the Grand Final leg in Genoa a decisive event.
Everything is ready for the in-port race in The Hague. Today the IMOCA boats are racing, tomorrow the VO65s.
Classification after Leg 6:
1. 11th Hour Racing Team -- 33 points
2. Team Holcim-PRB -- 31 points
3. Team Malizia -- 27 points
4. Biotherm -- 19 points
5. GUYOT environnement - Team Europe -- 2 points
classification after Leg 2 of the VO65 Sprint:
1. WindWhisper Racing Team -- 12 points
2. Team JAJO -- 9 points
3. Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova -- 7 points
4. Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team -- 5 points
5. Viva México -- 4 points
6. Ambersail 2 -- 3 points