Wide image of five ships sailing at sea, with the town of Mindelo in the background, as they set off on the Ocean Race second leg 2023.
© GUYOT environment - Team Europe | Charles Drapeau

Ocean Race Leg 2 - 2023

By  Matthew Crowe  -  23 Apr 2024

Prior to the start in Cape Verde there were crew rotations on four of the boats. These were mostly planned in advance but Malizia’s skipper Boris Herrmann had to stay ashore after burning his foot on Leg 1 and his teammate Will Harris stepped up as skipper. Meanwhile, on Guyot Benjamin Dutreux handed over as planned to Robert Stanjek.

© GUYOT environment - Team Europe | Charles Drapeau

Leg 2 from Mindelo to Cape Town kicked off in gentle conditions – a stark contrast to the brutal first stage of Leg 1. With an unusual break in the normally reliable trade winds, the first major challenges for the crews were tactical ones. First, how to avoid the wind shadows of the Cape Verde Islands and second, where to cross the doldrums, which were a lot wider and less predictable than usual. The teams were all well aware that getting through first, into the fair strong breeze of the southern Trades, could give them a decisive advantage.


Unlike other recent other editions of the race, where the teams sailed identical (and before that, similar) yachts, this time the boats are all different designs, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, and they have all been optimised in different ways for the wind and sea conditions the teams expect to encounter. Thus they very often sail different routes, with different tactics and strategies, instead of generally all following a similar course. Leg 2 showed the full extent of these differences among the fleet.


Guyot led the fleet out to sea but after the first night Biotherm – the first to hoist a spinnaker – was in front, followed by Holcim and 11th Hour Racing. Approaching the doldrums, Guyot gambled on the most direct route, 100 miles east of the other boats, while Malizia went far to the west, hoping to make up the extra miles in better wind while the others stalled. They held their wind for longer, halving the gap between them and their rivals but Guyot was first across the equator – after five days and almost eight hours at sea – and then first to break out of the doldrums and into the south-east trade winds, five and a half hours earlier than Malizia.


Their luck gradually ran out, however and Guyot's lead began to erode as they fell foul of the St Helena High, with lighter and less steady winds than their rivals further west – and then their big spinnaker burst unexpectedly in only moderate winds. They stuck to their strategy regardless, gybing east towards Africa about 120 miles before the others made the turn, once again attempting to cut the corner.Image credit below: GUYOT environnement - Team Europe | Charles Drapeau

© GUYOT environment - Team Europe | Charles Drapeau

Malizia’s strategy of taking the most circuitous route eventually paid off and they were leading the fleet as the boats sailed all the way south into the Roaring Forties – almost as far as the ice exclusion zone – and finally gybed to head directly for Cape Town. Their progress was blisteringly fast, with a remarkable 24-hour run of almost 542 miles by 11th Hour Racing, which could end up being a certified class record. There was, however, a patch of very light winds blocking their path, once again giving the teams at the back of the fleet a chance to catch up.


Mentally exhausted and on short rations after a much longer than expected passage from Cape Verde, four of the five teams were still close together but effectively stalled once again in a 250-mile wide patch of ‘mini doldrums’ for the final phase of the race. It was a hard fought and closely matched three-boat battle for the finish line between Holcim, Biotherm and 11th Hour Racing. Malizia, about 20 miles south, eventually ran out of luck in the light and fickle wind. Last-place Guyot (who had been 500 miles behind) were now catching up with the leading pack but just too late to challenge the other boats.


Holcim finally emerged with a slender lead in the last three hours of the race and finished with an elapsed time of 17 days, 19 hours and 9 seconds. Biotherm took second place about 17 minutes later with 11th Hour Racing hot on their heels to finish third, less than six minutes behind. Malizia in fourth came in just two hours after the winner and even Guyot in fifth was less than four hours behind Holcim.


Leg 1 Leg 2 Total
HOLCIM 5 5 10
11 HRT 4 3 7
BIOTH 2 4 6
MALIZ 3 2 5
GUYOT 1 1 2


Stage 1 Total
AMBR2 3 3

Did not Start

Did not finish



Given Redress


Featured Products

Find below the products featured in the article content above

Sign up to our newsletter

Be the first to discover new arrivals, deals, and promotions.

By clicking "SIGN UP", you agree to Dubarry of Ireland sending you marketing communications.