The second leg of The Ocean Race Europe began yesterday 6th of June in Cascais, Portugal. 12 professional yacht crews representing nine countries from all over the world set off on a four-day offshore passage to Alicante, Spain.
The fleet arrived at Cascais on Wednesday 2nd of June after the three-day opening stage from Lorient, France. Sailors only had a few days to recover before returning to the competition in a coastal sprint as part of the local Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy regatta, hosted by the Clube Naval de Cascais.
The fleet is racing in two classes of high-performance ocean-going monohull yachts. The VO65s and the IMOCA 60s. The fleet set off from Cascais at 13:00 local time on the four-day, 700-nautical mile / 1,296 kilometre second leg.
The 12 crews are made up of sailors from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden, as well as from Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States.
The winners of the opening leg of The Ocean Race Europe came to an exciting conclusion as in the VO65 class The Austrian Ocean Race Project, skippered by Gerwin Jansen, pulled off a come-from-behind victory just six seconds before the Ambersail-2.
Meanwhile, in the IMOCA class Nicolas Troussel’s COURUM L’Epargne (FRA) took the first place ahead of the 11th Hour Racing Team that came in second and Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut that came in third.
“The wind starts to go up a lot in the Strait of Gibraltar,” - French yachtsman Sébastien Josse.
The course continues for leg two passing Portugal’s coastal capital city Lisbon and southwards towards Cape St. Vincent, the most southwestern point in Portugal and Europe.
From this point, boats will turn southeast towards the Strait of Gibraltar. Conditions are expected to be fierce with headwinds peaking to 40 knots on Monday. This is when The Ocean Race Europe yachts are expected to pass through.
From the narrow and congested waterway that divides the Iberian Peninsula from Morocco, the sailors will be able to enter the Mediterranean Sea and move to calmer waters.
The most direct route is along the Spanish coast to the finish line in Alicante. However, depending on the weather conditions, crews might have to sail a longer route trying to find better winds.
Sébastien Josse, racing aboard the IMOCA 60 CORUM L’Épargne (FRA), believes they have two options in the Strait: to stay in the north on the left coast, with a lot of tacks but less wind, or cross the Strait and go to Morocco, with stronger winds but less tacks.
However, with weather uncertainty, this is a decision they will have to take as they advance in the course.