Wide image of a member of team Holcim - PRB working on the boat during the Ocean Race 2023.
© Team Holcim - PRB | Anne Beauge

Ocean Race Leg 3 - 2023

By  Matthew Crowe  -  23 Apr 2024

Before leaving Cape Town the five IMOCA teams thrilled the crowds of spectators at the V&A Waterfront with a spectacular in-port race: three laps of a quadrilateral course around Table Bay in perfect conditions with 15-18kt southerly winds and blazing sunshine. Team Holcim PRB led from start to finish, completing the course in just 43 minutes. Biotherm got one of their hydrofoils caught on a racing mark just before the start and were forced to retire. 11th Hour Racing scored an easy second and Team Malizia came powering through from behind to take third, with Guyot Environnement finishing fourth.

© Team Holcim - PRB | Anne Beauge


Two days later the fleet of five boats set off on the marathon Leg Three, through the Southern Ocean from Cape Town to Itajai, Brazil, which at 12,750 miles is the longest leg ever in the 50 years and 14 editions of the Ocean Race. It’s about half the entire race in terms of distance, and the ultimate challenge in sailing. The route – halfway around Antarctica before turning north at Cape Horn – goes straight through the most isolated expanse of ocean on the planet, more than a thousand miles from anyone or anywhere, with the most extreme wind and wave conditions on earth. For the sailors it’s a wild and relentless ride, surfing down monster waves, propelled by freezing gale force winds, for weeks on end. There are icebergs to dodge and any chance of rescue is a very long way away.


In these conditions, for any sailor who falls overboard the chances of survival are virtually nil. Maintaining a sure-footed grip while moving around on deck is quite literally a matter of life and death. Dubarry’s Crosshaven boots were designed by Ocean Race sailors, working alongside our in-house design team, with this specific purpose in mind. Many sailors in the current race – including some of the Holcim crew and the entire Guyot team – are using Crosshaven boots on board.


Just a few days out of Cape Town, Malizia lost a headsail overboard and badly damaged the top of their mast, which took two full days to fix in challenging sea conditions as the other boats sped away. They seriously considered retiring and returning to Cape Town, but decided to press on and try to catch up. By the time they got going again the leader, Holcim, was more than 600 miles ahead.


Team Guyot had even worse luck a few days later, discovering that the bottom to their hull was flexing and delaminating. With severe structural damage they had no option but to abandon the leg. Even so, it took more than a week of hard, slow and arduous upwind sailing to get back to Cape Town for major repairs.


Holcim continued to set a blistering pace. Approaching the scoring gate at the halfway point of Leg 3, the Swiss-flagged team established a new 24 hour distance record of 595.26 nautical miles (1102 km), surpassing the previous Imoca class record by more than 50 miles. Even so, the fleet was steadily compressing as those behind found faster weather conditions than their rivals up ahead. Malizia not only caught up with the others but began to challenge for the lead. Incredibly all four boats were in sight of each other as they passed Point Nemo, the most remote location on earth. Image credit below: Team Holcim - PRB | Anne Beauge


© Team Holcim - PRB | Anne Beauge

Malizia was first to round Cape Horn although shortly before that one of their crew, Rosalin Kuiper, was hurled out of her bunk in violent seas and sustained a severe head injury. Nevertheless, after a whole month of hard racing they were still neck-and-neck with Holcim as the two leaders powered north towards Itajai with the other pair also engaged in a relentless duel, about a day behind, both of their boats having been crippled in storms and collisions with flotsam.


Eventually Holcim made one small mistake, resulting in a violent accidental crash gybe which inflicted some damage on their sails. Seizing the opportunity, Malizia opened up a lead of 60 miles which they increased to 80 miles at the finish. ‘Winning this leg is an unreal moment,’ said skipper Boris Herrmann. ‘it’s taking time to realise what we have achieved, that the dream is coming true.’


Guyot, repaired in Cape Town, had arrived in Brazil just a few days ahead of the fleet after a 14-day delivery passage across the South Atlantic.


Biotherm and 11th Hour Racing were still tied for third place right until the very end, the former with a damaged foil, leaking hull and broken wind instruments, the latter with both rudders damaged and a badly torn mainsail. The wind died almost completely in the final approach to Itajai in a final test of the crews’ resilience. When 11th Hour limped across the finish two and a half hours ahead of Biotherm, it was the start of another race – the two teams’ shore crews working frantically to get their battered boats back into racing trim for the start of Leg 4, in just a few weeks’ time.


Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Total
HOLCIM 5 5 9 19
MALIZ 3 2 9 14
11 HRT 4 3 6 13
BIOTH 2 4 4 10
GUYOT 1 1 0 2


Stage 1 Total
AMBR2 3 3

Did not Start

Did not finish



Given Redress


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