Wide image of the Team Guyot boat being brought in to port after losing their rig at the end of Leg 4
© GUYOT environment - Team Europe | Charles Drapeau

Ocean Race Leg 5 - 2023

By  Matthew Crowe  -  24 Apr 2024

The competition between the teams has been relentlessly fierce all the way through this edition of The Ocean Race, with the leading boats duelling each other for thousands of miles on several of the previous legs and victory up for grabs nearly all the way to the finish. And in Leg 5 – a 3,500-mile, double points scoring, mostly downwind blast across the North Atlantic from Newport, Rhode Island in the US to Aarhus, the second city of Denmark – the intensity was dialled up to eleven.


The 24-hour speed record was repeatedly broken, only to be bettered soon after by rival teams. The teams’ tactics were more aggressive and the boats were pushed very close to their limits. The route took them through violent seas in the Gulf Stream, whipped up by strong winds blowing against the current. Then across the Atlantic in an astonishingly short time, round the top of Scotland and into the Baltic via the Skagerrak, riding a relentless succession of low-pressure weather systems all the way.


Leg 5 kicked off in bright sunshine and a gentle breeze at Newport, Rhode Island. 11th Hour Racing were first across the start line in their own home port but Team Malizia closed the gap, overtook and led the fleet of four Imoca 60s out to sea. The fifth team, Guyot Environnement, lost their rig near the end of the previous leg and were forced to miss this one – they hope to rejoin the race in Aarhus for the last two stages.


© GUYOT environment - Team Europe | Charles Drapeau

The overall leader at the start of Leg 5, Holcim-PRB, was racing with a new mast, hastily fitted in just a few days after they too lost their rig on Leg 4. 11th Hour Racing, meanwhile, had finally managed to re-install their faster set of hydrofoils, one of which had broken about 20,0000 miles earlier while racing to Cape Town. Every last tenth of a knot of boatspeed would prove crucial on this leg. For Biotherm, trailing the other three boats in the points ranking, Leg 5 was probably their last chance to turn the tables on their rivals and get back in the running for an overall win.


The fleet remained clustered together for the first few days of the race. 11th Hour Racing took a slim lead over the others as strong winds of around 25 to 30 knots kicked in from behind. The pace was fast at around 500 miles a day, but unpredictable wind shifts and gusts kept the crews on their toes and a rough, lumpy sea state gave them and their boats a punishing, brutally uncomfortable ride.


As the violent sea state began to abate, 11th Hour Racing set a new Ocean Race 24-hour speed record, covering more than 600 nautical miles. Holcim soon eclipsed it, breaking the outright monohull world speed record – set by the 100ft maxi Comanche back in 2015 – with a 24-hour run of 640.91 miles. Even that didn’t stand for long, though as Malizia went one better, albeit by a tiny margin, with 641.13 miles.


© Team Biotherm - PRB | Anne Beauge

The leading trio rounded the top of Scotland at a blistering pace, with the boats and crews taking a beating in big seas and 30 to 40 knots of wind. 11th Hour Racing continued to lead as they gybed off Norway, heading into the Skagerrak, but their margin over Holcim was still only 25 miles and Malizia was just 40 miles behind.


Biotherm, meanwhile, had narrowly avoided the disaster of losing their entire rig when the port-side main shroud – one of the structurally crucial cables that hold the mast up – broke in the middle of the night and were now limping along at much slower speed between Iceland and the UK.


Charlie Enright’s 11th Hour Racing Team held onto their lead in the final hours, crossing the finish line on 29 April four hours ahead of their rivals after a barnstorming performance to score a second consecutive leg victory, which means they now lead The Ocean Race overall – but only by a single point. Kevin Escoffier’s Holcim-PRB just managed to hold of a last-minute charge by Boris Herrmann’s Malizia, who crossed the line only five minutes behind them. Biotherm arrived in Aarhus two days later, fortunately with their mast still standing.


With two more legs yet to race, any one of the top three teams could still win the race. Leg 6, which might – or might not – be the decider, starts in Aarhus on Thursday 16 June with the separate fleet of Volvo 65s rejoining The Ocean Race for its final stages.


Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Leg 4 Leg 5 Total
11 HRT 4 3 6 5 10 28
HOLCIM 5 5 9 0 8 27
MALIZ 3 2 9 4 6 24
BIOTH 2 4 4 3 4 17
GUYOT 1 1 0 0 0 2


Stage 1 Total
AMBR2 3 3

Did not Start

Did not finish



Given Redress


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