As the Ocean Globe Race fleet make their way up the Atlantic, some are finding the wind, while others are struggling with wind holes

Atlantic routing decisions have differed amongst the Ocean Globe Race fleet, with some winners and losers.

According to Ocean Passage for the World, the best route for sailing up the Atlantic at this time of year is to head 80 miles south of the Falklands and make for a point to the east of 35°S and 30°W.

Racing up the Brazilian coast has been frustrating for the entire Ocean Globe Race fleet, with fickle winds resulting in daily averages of just 118nm.

Crew lying down on a yacht

Like other Ocean Globe Race entrants, the crew of Outlaw have struggled with the heat. Credit:OGR2023/Outlaw

But those who decided to head east are reaping the benefits.

Pen Duick VI, Translated 9 and Spirit of Helsinki all chose early to head east on a port tack before turning north, followed by L’Espirt d’Equipe.

As a result, Pen Duick VI, L’Espirt d’Equipe and Spirit of Helsinki are currently placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in line honours.

In IRC ratings for Leg 4, L’Espirt d’Equipe holds the top spot, followed by Pen Duick VI, and Translated 9.

So far, Pen Duick VI, L’Espirt d’Equipe, Spirit of Helsinki, Maiden, Translated 9, Neptune and Outlaw have crossed the equator, and are now searching, and in some cases finding, the north-east tradewinds.

The skipper of Pen Duick VI, Marie Tabarly, compared Leg 4 of the Ocean Globe Race as a  “bit like a horse-evening competition”, with this final leg being the most testing.

“For us, it’s the ascent of the Atlantic, with all its pitfalls and after 7 months at sea. Really full of traps: Cabo Frio, the Atlantic cold front, the doldrums, the Azores anticyclone, and the Bay of Biscay. The air is hot, the sails worn, and their usage ranges are, therefore, different. The guys are tired too. To be taken into account in the decisions,” said Tabarly.

Throughout much of the round the world yacht race, Pen Duick VI and Translated 9 have been fierce but friendly rivals, until two cracks appeared in the stern section of Translated 9‘s hull, forcing the crew to stop in the Falkland Islands to make repairs.

But, the crew, led by Simon Curwen, have been fighting back. Curwen is no stranger to defying the odds.

In the 2022 Golden Globe Race, he was still in Puerto Montt in Chile making repairs when Kirsten Neuschäfer rounded Cape Horn and began making her way up the Atlantic.

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Within weeks he had made serious gains in his Biscay 36, Clara; he headed east, wide of the Falkland Islands before putting more north in his course where he encountered high pressure which pushed him through the variables of the Horse Latitudes. He was the first entrant to cross the Equator.

Ultimately, Curwen was the first entrant home in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, and his experience in routing “pretty much straight lines” and following the Clipper routes could pay dividends in the Ocean Globe Race. Only time will tell!

L’Esprit d’équipe has been sailing well in Leg 4. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

L’Esprit d’équipe is currently leading in Leg 4, based on IRC rankings. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

The French crew of L’Espirt d’Equipe is currently at the top of the IRC leaderboard for this leg.

“After 2 weeks of racing, Team Spirit is at the forefront. A second youth for this boat full of history. Ahead!” tweeted the happy crew.

But for the crew of Triana, which was leading the overall IRC leaderboard ahead of the start of Leg 4, it has not been “champagne sailing”.

Two men on a sail boat in the middle of the Atlantic

Skipper Jean d’Arthuys and first mate Sébastien Audigane talk tactics under the scorching sun. Jean has admitted he’s finding leg 4 difficult both tactically and mentally. Credit: OGR2023/Triana / Margault Demasles.

The French crew of the Swan 53 – the smallest yacht left in the fleet – have struggled to dodge the wind holes, slipping towards the back of the fleet.

But now they are sailing out of the doldrums.

Skipper Jean d’Arthuys said: “We had a really hard time and now we are sailing better and we are finishing the doldrums. We have had squalls but not too strong; we are still going well and so hope to gain time over the front of the fleet because we have had eight or nine very difficult days, but we are now back on track.”

The first boats are expected to cross the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line off Cowes between 9-10 April.

Positions of the 2023 Ocean Globe Race fleet – Leg 4: Punta del Este to Cowes at 1200 UTC on 26 March 2024. These positions will change under the IRC rating. Line honours are shown below. 

Pen Duick VI (France)
L’Esprit d’Equipe (France)
Spirit of Helsinki (Finland)
Maiden (UK)
Translated 9 (Italy)
Neptune (France)
Outlaw (Australia)
Evrika (France)
Galiana with Secure (Finland)
Triana (France)
White Shadow (Spain)
Sterna (South Africa)
Explorer (Australia)


Godspeed (USA)

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