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The four boats racing north in Leg 4 of The Ocean Race 2022-23 are in a challenging position on Saturday (29 April). The wind is very light and unstable. The result? 24-hour runs of less than 180 nautical miles. That might be a good day on a 35-foot cruising yacht, but it’s not what these IMOCAs were designed to do.

One look at the tracker tells you all you need to know: boat speeds of five to eight knots are the norm today.

The local weather conditions created by the clouds are making for a game of snakes and ladders on the water, with big gains and losses available even when boats are relatively close.

“The deck is dry, but the wind is very shifty,” said Seb Simon on GUYOT environnement - Team Europe who have moved up in the fleet. “This morning we could see Biotherm which was a nice surprise. It will be like this all day [generally light, gusty, clouds]. It’s nice but we’d like a little bit more speed.”

The latest weather analysis has the teams sailing in light trade winds for most of the day, but the windspeed should increase on Sunday (30 April) to more moderate conditions as they close in on the northeast corner of Brazil and pass by Recife. Then, Monday 1 and Tuesday 2 May will see a passage through the doldrums.

Adding to the misery is the temperature. “I feel like I’m under a magnifying glass,” said Charlie Enright from on board a baking hot 11th Hour Racing Team. “It’s warm. Very warm. A two-hour stint in ‘the bubble’ [the plexiglass trimming station] is getting to be too much. The sun takes a toll.”

Enright’s team is still in the lead, but the spread from first to fourth is less then 30 miles. In these unstable conditions, any one of the four teams could emerge from the doldrums with the lead on Tuesday.

Further south, meanwhile, Team Holcim-PRB continues to progress towards Rio, and the boat is expected to arrive on Saturday local time.

Leg Four Rankings at 1600 UTC, 29 April

  1. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to finish, 4,019.4 miles
  2. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 3.8 miles
  3. GUYOT enironnement - Team Europe, distance to lead, 21.9 miles
  4. Biotherm, distance to lead, 29.9 miles
  5. Team Holcim-PRB, racing suspended

Find the latest fleet positions on the race tracker at

Published in Ocean Race
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It’s been a long speed contest for the four IMOCAs racing to the northeast, away from the Brazilian coast, on Leg 4 of The Ocean Race 2022-23.

For over 24 hours they had been racing close to the wind on port tack, heading offshore. As The Ocean Race meteorologist Christian Dumard notes: “Very shifty and unstable upwind conditions.”

But over the next 48 hours, the teams will need to transition into building easterly trade winds which should carry them up to the doldrums. In these conditions, speed is king — and the fleet has closed up, with all four boats within 16 miles on the tracker as of 1800 UTC on Friday (28 April).

“It’s likely to be gusty but generally quite light,” said Alan Roberts on Biotherm. “We have Malizia just a mile away, and GUYOT a bit further back and 11th Hour Racing just up in front of us…

“The fleet has been compressing for the last few hours and I think it’s going to continue to do so. These next hours are going to be key to get into the new breeze and starting the next phase of the race which is going to be reaching up the Brazilian coast.”

As the boats sail away from the coast, they are leaving behind two exclusion zones: a couple for some big oil fields that include a lot of installations and commercial traffic and one just off the coast, marking the Abrolhos Bank, a known area for marine wildlife.

Damian Foxall on the 11th Hour Racing Team sent some notes back on the reasons behind some of the nature-specific exclusion zones, including this one: “We have one here called the Abrolhos Banks which is one of the zones where up to 25,000 southern Right Whales and Humpbacks come to from Antartica, where the warmer waters are, and to breed. We are a month away from this activity, but just to be safe, the organisers have defined this exclusion zone for us to sail around.”

Meanwhile, Team Holcim-PRB have come up with a plan to sail the boat to Rio, under jury rig, where they will fit a spare mast and rejoin the race after their dismasting disaster on Thursday (27 April). Escoffier and his team hope to reach Rio on Saturday (29 April) using this configuration.

The logistics and timings behind this operation are complicated. But with support from the experts on the GAC Pindar operations team, Kevin Escoffier’s crew and shore team are working on multiple potential solutions to get the mast from Lorient in France to Rio in the most efficient way that will support a very tight timeline.

The shore crew will help fit the new mast and the team intends to finish Leg 4 to collect at least one point and maintain its position at the top of the overall race rankings.

Leg Four Rankings at 1800 UTC, 28 April

  1. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to finish, 4,184.8 miles
  2. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 6.6 miles
  3. GUYOT enironnement - Team Europe, distance to lead, 14.2 miles
  4. Biotherm, distance to lead, 16 miles
  5. Team Holcim-PRB, racing suspended

Find the latest fleet positions on the race tracker at

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Near 0500 UTC, while the boat was racing east in moderate northerly winds and sea state, the mast on Team Holcim-PRB came crashing down.

Skipper Kevin Escoffier had a message sent to Race Control that the crew was safe and again shortly afterwards that the boat was secure and no assistance was required.

“We very well. We were leading in with our fresh, new crew on Holcim-PRB. We had a mechanical failure and the mast came down,” Escoffier said. “That’s life. We are working now on a jury rig to go back to the harbour to be able to be back in the race as soon as possible. The team is working hard to find a solution.”

While this is a big blow to a team that has won 19 out of 20 possible points across the first three legs of The Ocean Race, the competitor in Escoffier is not giving up.

“If we are going to get to Newport, the start is on the 21 May, and if we can get there we will still be leading The Ocean Race, so we’re working hard to make that happen,” he said.

The Holcim-PRB team is looking at all options, including whether it would be possible to get a spare mast to Brazil in time for the team to resume racing in Leg 4, thereby securing at least one point and rejoining the fleet in Newport in time for the transatlantic leg.

If that proves logistically impossible with timing, other options could include shipping the boat and spare mast separately to Newport in time for Leg 5 (also very tight on time) or Aarhus for Leg 6.

All this will be decided in the coming hours. For now, the boat and crew are safe and the team has options to get back into The Ocean Race.

“Shocking news. Luckily no one is injured, but it’s an incredible shame. Kevin sailed such a strong race. We actually passed him on sight tonight, spoke briefly on VHF,” said Robert Stanjek on GUYOT envrionnement - Team Europe, no doubt sharing the sentiments of all the competitors. “We suffer with them, of course. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

Elsewhere on the water, 11th Hour Racing Team has moved up one place to take the lead, with Team Malizia just 10 miles behind and Biotherm close as well. GUYOT envrionnement - Team Europe is just over 20 miles in arrears but holding pace over the past 24 hours.

The IMOCA fleet are breaking free of the exclusion zones that hampered their movements midweek which opens up some of the tactical options.

Leg Four Rankings at 1800 UTC, 27 April

  1. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to finish, 4,334.7 miles
  2. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 11.8 miles
  3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 12.7 miles
  4. GUYOT enironnement - Team Europe, distance to lead, 23.1 miles
  5. Team Holcim-PRB, racing suspended

Find the latest fleet positions on the race tracker at

Published in Ocean Race
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The five IMOCAs in The Ocean Race fleet were short tacking up the coast of Brazil on Wednesday (26 April), squeezed between the land to the west and an exclusion zone to the east.

With the wind coming from the north-northeast, which is the desired direction to sail towards, it means a lot of tacking and close quarters manoeuvring.

The racing remains close. Team Holcim-PRB and 11th Hour Racing Team nearly appear as one boat on the tracker, separated by less than a mile. Biotherm and Team Malizia are just six to seven miles back and GUYOT environnement-Team Europe a further 10 miles behind.

“I think we’re going to go inside the exclusion zone,” said Alan Roberts on Biotherm as the teams were considering their options before needing to make that decision on Wednesday morning.

“There’s a big left hand shift coming, and we’re expecting a bit of a back-eddy of current at the moment so there’s a bit of a tidal gain. And it looks like the whole fleet will pass inside so it will be the low risk option.”

“We have about two more days to go of upwind sailing up the coast,” said Christopher Pratt on Team Malizia. “There’s going to be a lot of work to do. And then maybe, it looks like good sailing ahead, reaching along the Brazilian coast. But it’s long upwind ahead first…a lot of manoeuvres, a lot of tacks.”

The clouds have still played a role in giving very localised winds to the teams. While Malizia was lamenting losing out to 11th Hour Racing Team and Holcim-PRB, not surprisingly the leaders were happy with the result.

“Overnight we finally got a good cloud and we sailed around everybody,” said 11th Hour Racing Team skipper Charlie Enright, with a smile.

With the full fleet compressed between the exclusion zone and the coast, boat handling and local weather will be difference-makers over the next day.

Onboard 11th Hour Racing Team on Tuesday 25 April, Ireland’s Damian Foxall is on the bow putting the J3 sail away | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour Racing/The Ocean RaceOnboard 11th Hour Racing Team on Tuesday 25 April, Ireland’s Damian Foxall is on the bow putting the J3 sail away | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour Racing/The Ocean Race

This exclusion zone is one of several on Leg 4 up to Newport. Race director Phil Lawrence says the exclusion zones fall into four broad categories:

  • Areas with high levels of hazards or marine traffic: the oilfields off the coast of Brazil fall into this category and are where the fleet is now.
  • Areas with high levels of protected marine life: just to the north of current positions on this leg, the whale breeding grounds on the Abrolhos Bank off the coast of Brazil are an example of an area the boats will be routed around.
  • Areas with specific hazards: later on this leg, the exclusion zone off the northeast coast of Brazil is in place to keep the boats away from debris that comes out of the Amazon River Delta.
  • Designated shipping lanes where traffic can only travel in one direction: there is a zone like this on the approach to Rhode Island.

In addition to reducing the risk to the fleet and to marine life, an exclusion zone may force tactical decisions. In this case, the entire fleet stayed inside the oilfields exclusion zone, taking the lower risk — but higher work rate — option of staying together.

There is about 100 miles of racing to the northeast before the playing field opens up again — and many tacks to go between now and then.

In other news, GUYOT environnement - Team Europe has partnered with Berlin-based CleanHub to set an ambitious goal of collecting a minimum of 20,000kg of plastic waste as the team covers the remaining 12,000 nautical miles in The Ocean Race.

Leg Four Rankings at 1900 UTC, 26 April

  • Team Holcim-PRB, distance to finish, 4,560.0 miles
  • 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 0.7 miles
  • Team Malizia, distance to lead, 6.2 miles
  • Biotherm, distance to lead, 7.4 miles
  • GUYOT enironnement - Team Europe, distance to lead, 16.4 miles

Find the latest fleet positions on the race tracker at

Published in Ocean Race
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It hasn’t been a straightforward start to Leg 4 of The Ocean Race 2022-23 as the IMOCA teams zig-zag away from the coast of Brazil, seeking favourable conditions to the east, while keeping an eye on the overall goal of making miles north.

There’s also big-picture weather that dictates overall strategy to consider versus the very localised impact of clouds and squalls that must be deal with.

“There’s just a lot of random ‘cloudage’ going on here,” said 11th Hour Racing Team’s Charlie Enright. “And at the moment it’s not going our way.”

That moment may have passed, however, as the 1800 UTC tracker update on Tuesday (25 April) has the American team at the top of the table, just bow forward on Team Holcim-PRB as they race east.

“Things are tricky,” navigator Simon Fisher said. “It’s pretty messy. The game is to find our way offshore and find better pressure but it’s a little challenging, with the wind shifts.”

“The shifts are up to 50 degrees,” said Kevin Escoffier on Holcim-PRB. “So even a small tack, maybe half an hour, we need to do something like that [or we lose a lot].”

These shifts are what account for the tracks behind the boats on the race tracker as the fleet takes it in turn to weave up to the north and then to the right towards the more favourable winds offshore to the east.

“There are clouds in front — a dark zone — and the wind is very shifty,” said Seb Simon on GUYOT environnement - Team Europe. “Sometimes it’s a big lift, sometimes a header, sometimes lots of pressure, so it’s hard to keep the speed. But the fleet is close and it’s a huge speed test.“”

As of 1800 UTC on Tuesday there is a small split in the fleet, with 11th Hour Racing Team, Team Holcim-PRB and Biotherm now 30 miles to the north of Team Malizia and GUYOT environnement.

The teams will be yearning for more stable, stronger conditions as the fleet is yet to make a 200-mile day towards the finish in Newport.

Leg Four Rankings at 1800 UTC, 25 April

  1. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to finish, 4,724.7 miles
  2. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to lead, 5 miles
  3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 15.5 miles
  4. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 37.3 miles
  5. GUYOT enironnement - Team Europe, distance to lead, 41 miles

Find the latest fleet positions on the race tracker at

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It was GUYOT environnement - Team Europe sailor Annie Lush who said the opening days of Leg 4 of The Ocean Race 2022-23 would be a “trim off” and this is how it has come to pass.

She was referring to the probability the IMOCA teams would be closely lined-up, drag racing one boat next to the other. Sail trim and boat speed would be the determining factors.

And over the first 18 hours of racing this has come to pass, with the fleet racing east-southeast on Monday (24 April) to get offshore as fast as possible.

Paul Meilhat’s Biotherm held the early lead into this morning, but now it is Team Holcim-PRB who bow forward. But the margins are very thin: on the leaderboard, the spread from first to fifth is just five miles.

The east-northeast wind is fairly light — eight to 12 knots — and variable with squalls and rain showers. It is forecast to build slightly over the next 24 hours.

“We’ve spent these first hours of the race trying to get to the gradient wind offshore,” said 11th Hour Racing Team’s Simon Fisher, on Sunday evening (23 April). “It’s going to be tricky with the clouds.”

“The wind is very shifty,” said Kevin Escoffier on Team Holcim-PRB. “But we have to deal with it. Instead of going for a big bet, it is better to play with the small shifts than going for a big change. When you are not sure, it is better to be safe.”

On Team Malizia, navigator Nico Lunven had a scary moment when he was hit by a jib sheet as the fleet sailed away from Itajaí last night. He suffered minor cuts and abrasions to the face. After consultation with the shore-side doctor he is reported to be fit to keep racing and has been taking on his regular duties, including doing his weather routing through the night.

“I feel like a boxer who has lost a match but it is okay,” he said.

Leg Four Rankings at 1700 UTC, 24 April

  1. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to finish, 4,950.4 miles
  2. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 4.3 miles
  3. Biotherm, distance to lead, 4.6 miles
  4. GUYOT enironnement - Team Europe, distance to lead, 4.9 miles
  5. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 7.6 miles

Find the latest fleet positions on the race tracker at

Published in Ocean Race
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Nearly 350,000 fans visited the Ocean Live Park in Itajaí, Brazil this month to celebrate The Ocean Race stopover.

And on Sunday (23 April), Leg 4 of The Ocean Race got under way as the five-boat IMOCA fleet set out from Itajaí on their 5,000-plus-nautical-mile adventure towards Newport, Rhode Island in the USA.

It was a close fought battle at the start of the two-lap inshore section of the race course, with no one wanting to concede an inch to a rival crew.

What appeared to be great starts by 11th Hour Racing Team and GUYOT environnement-Team Europe — with the two boats right on the starting line at full speed as the starting gun fired — turned out be a little too good.

The two IMOCAs were judged to have crossed the starting line a fraction too early and were forced to turn back and restart. It was an expensive mistake which left the way clear for Biotherm to take the early lead ahead of Team Malizia and Team Holcim-PRB.

With around 10 knots of breeze, there wasn’t quite enough for full foiling, but the fleet was still making good progress at up to 18 knots of boat speed.

Biotherm continued to extend its lead, helped in part by a duel for second between the next two boats. By the start of the second lap, Holcim-PRB finally managed to overhaul Malizia for second place, with the two premature starters — GUYOT and 11th Hour Racing — trailing some way behind.

By the end of the inshore section, Biotherm held a very healthy advantage over the fleet, while GUYOT had done a good job of closing the gap to Malizia in front.

Earlier, the sailors were farewelled off the dock in Itajaí by a large and enthusiastic crowd. The Brazilian stopover embraces The Ocean Race family fully and completely and the passion of the people here set a warm tone for the day. Over 315,000 people had visited the stopover heading into Sunday. When the last crowd is accounted for later this afternoon, the final number will be near 350,000, organisers say.

A further 250 boats were on the water to witness the start and while Paul Meilhat’s Biotherm team led the way, he was excited by the prospect of close racing all the way to Newport.

“I think it will be a close race again on this leg,” he said just before docking out. “I mean, when we were at Point Nemo [the most remote place in the world] we had four boats within a mile of each other! That means that it could happen every time. If it happens again this leg I will be happy because we are here for that, we’re in this race for close competition.”

The leg from Itajaí to Newport is just over 5,000 nautical miles and is expected to take up to 17 days, with an ETA around 9-10 May.

Leg Four Rankings at 2000 UTC, 23 April

  1. Biotherm, distance to finish, 5,053.3 miles
  2. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to lead, 1.8 miles
  3. GUYOT enironnement - Team Europe, distance to lead, 1.9 miles
  4. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 2.8 miles
  5. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 2.9 miles

Find the latest fleet positions on the race tracker at

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While the five IMOCA teams in The Ocean Race 2022-23 have already sailed nearly two-thirds of the way around the world, the sporting competition is not yet at the halfway point.

There are nine full point scoring opportunities in this edition of the race — and after Leg 3 to Itajaí only four of them have been completed.

The sailors referenced this often in the skipper’s press conference on Friday (21 April); fully 56% of the points in the race are still available.

The most punchy comment came from 11th Hour Racing Team skipper Charlie Enright, whose team was a pre-race favourite but has suffered through numerous equipment issues on Leg 3 and currently sits in third place.

“This is an important leg for our team. 11th Hour Racing is from Newport, Rhode Island; I’m from Rhode Island too. And in a sense, this is our 11th hour. We have a sense of urgency,” Enright said. “We didn’t have the leg we wanted in the last one…but we have a good squad on board and there are nearly 60% of the points left and we’re going for them all.”

Importantly, Enright’s team went out a few hours later and backed him up by winning the In-Port Race.

But the full leg promises to be more challenging. It is a 5,500-nautical-mile charge to the north, with plenty of transitions, including another equator crossing and the associated doldrums, followed by the Gulf Stream current which pushes to the northeast along the east coast of the United States.

Teams with veterans of The Ocean Race on board may have a small advantage of insider knowledge on this leg. Although the French IMOCA sailors do plenty of racing in the Atlantic, it’s rarely on the ‘western’ portion of the ocean.

“It’s going to be an interesting leg for many of us,” said Sebastian Simon from GUYOT environnement - Team Europe. “We don’t often race on this side, so there will be a lot to learn.”

The race to Newport is expected to take 16-17 days with an ETA around 9-10 May. The opening days of Leg 4 are expected to be on the slower side, with winds forecast to be under 10 knots on Sunday (23 April) and usually less than 15 knots into the middle part of the week.

In Ireland, Sunday’s Leg 4 start will be available for broadcast exclusively on Eurosport 1 and as well as live or on demand on the Eurosport app or discovery+ player, with the feed beginning at 1230 local time/1530 UTC/1630 IST.

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It was start-to-finish domination by 11th Hour Racing Team in Itajaí, Brazil in the In-Port Race on Friday (21 April) and the win moved the American team to the top of The Ocean Race In-Port Race Series leaderboard.

Light winds of eight to 10 knots meant the IMOCA fleet was unable to get on the foils, but the two-lap square-shaped course was still challenging for these ocean-going boats which are not easily manoeuvred in tight spaces.

Charlie Enright timed his approach to the leeward end of the start line perfectly, and 11th Hour Racing Team looking strong from the moment the gun fired. Breathing down his neck was Kevin Escoffier’s Team Holcim-PRB, with the Frenchman keen to see if he could overhaul the American boat before the first turning mark. Meanwhile a good start from the windward end of the line by Biotherm also saw Paul Meilhat’s new crew threatening the front two boats.

Further back, GUYOT environnement - Team Europe (FRA/GER) were back racing their black boat for the first time since retiring from Leg 3. Benjamin Dutreux kept the slow-starting Team Malizia at bay, with Will Harris’s crew initially unable to make inroads on the fleet.

However, on the downwind leg, with double Olympian Marie Riou calling the tactics for Meilhat, Biotherm managed to steal the inside line from Holcim-PRB and the French boat moved up into second place on the second lap. Further back, Malizia did the same to GUYOT, the German boat squeezing around the turning mark just ahead of Dutreux’s crew.

11th Hour Racing Team led the IMOCA fleet from start to finish in Itajaí on Friday 21 April | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race11th Hour Racing Team led the IMOCA fleet from start to finish in Itajaí on Friday 21 April | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race

Enright grinned with relief and delight as the American IMOCA, Mālama, crossed the finish line more than two minutes ahead of the fleet.

“In conditions like this, it’s never over until it’s over,” Enright said. “Big credit to the team; I start the boat and everyone else does the rest. I can’t say enough for the guys down below who do all the work. It’s a good day for us here in Brazil.”

Meilhat was delighted how his brand new team — Riou, Alan Roberts and Mariana Lobato — sailed Biotherm so effectively to take an easy second place. “Our boat speed was really good and the manoeuvres were also good, which is a bit of a surprise because it's really the first opportunity for all the crew, which shows they are really strong,” he said. “This is a good sign for Biotherm ahead of the Atlantic race to Newport.”

The same could not be said for Holcim-PRB who struggled through their final manoeuvre in the race, the headsail flapping helplessly as Malizia charged through on the final leg to take third place across the line. Escoffier was disappointed to fall to fourth place, with the GUYOT environnement team coming across in fifth place.

The start of the 5,500-nautical-mile Leg 4 from Itajaí to Newport in Rhode Island, USA is scheduled for this Sunday 23 April at 1315 local time/1615 UTC/1715 IST.

In Port Race - Itajaí - Results and points

  1. 11th Hour Racing Team (USA), 5 points
  2. Biotherm (FRA), 4 points
  3. Team Malizia (GER), 3 points
  4. Team Holcim - PRB (SUI), 2 points
  5. Guyot Environnement - Team Europe (FRA/GER), 1 point
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Speaking on Wednesday (19 April) at The Ocean Race Summit Itajaí, Secretary of Environmental and Territorial Indigenous Rights at Brazil’s Ministry of Indigenous Peoples warned that indigenous rights and better governance are critical for the success of ocean protection initiatives.

“We have a lot of respect for the ocean,” said Eunice Kerexu, who spoke of how indigenous people don’t see nature as a separate entity: “There is no ‘other’, it's all about “us.”

Kerexu noted the general apathy towards the marine environment, despite its vital role in the health of the planet: “Where is our responsibility with the oceans that offer us more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe?”

She also spoke about the destruction of vital on-land habitats, referring to the Atlantic forest and Amazon forest as “lungs of the world that are being destroyed”. She urged the summit participants: "Let's talk about protection, protection and reforestation of spaces. This awareness needs to be urgent.”

Speaking to over 150 government, civil society and private sector representatives gathered at the event held at the Ocean Live Park in Itajaí, Kerexu said she was speaking as an “indigenous leader, as a technical expert and now, as a political leader”.

The Ocean Race Summit Itajaí was held during The Ocean Race stopover in the Brazilian city. Since the beginning of April, Itajaí has hosted The Ocean Race for a fourth consecutive time. The fleet arrived in Brazil after the mammoth 12,750-nautical-mile Leg 3 from Cape Town, South Africa and will set sail for Newport, USA this Sunday 23 April in the next leg of the round-the-world race.

Brazil, one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, has been in the spotlight for years and faced mounting international criticism for the way its rich natural environment has been depleted.

Thiago Morastoni, Secretary of Tourism and Events and Economic Development of Itajaí, urged the Brazilian government “to explore and promote the concept and development of ocean rights. We need to ensure that our natural resources and the environment are protected to ensure a better future for us and for generations to come.”

This is the 10th time that The Ocean Race has stopped in Brazil, making the ‘auriverde’ nation by far the most visited country in South America. So far, over 250,000 people have visited Ocean Live Park, the dedicated race village where visitors can experience the event up-close and learn about how to protect the ocean.

Following a moving performance by children from the Tekoa Tarumá Guarani Mbya indigenous community, three panels explored how governments should ensure the rights of indigenous peoples; sailors shared their experiences of racing around Antarctica through the vast Southern Ocean; scientists explored the changes that are occurring in this critical part of the planet and what needs to happen to protect it; and political leaders explained what they are doing to tackle these issues.

The Ocean Race Summit Itajaí is part of a series of high-level events to promote the recognition of the inherent rights of the ocean, held in some of the stopover cities that are hosting the teams as they circumnavigate the planet.

Following his speech at The Ocean Race Summit Cabo Verde, held during the first stopover in this edition of the race, Cabo Verde’s Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva addressed the attendees in Itajaí by video message to reaffirm his country’s commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and the need for the ocean to have legally recognised rights.

Representing the Sacred Natural Sites Brazil Initiative, Érika Fernandes-Pinto said: “We need to pay attention to nature’s sacred sites and recognise different relations between culture and nature. Most of the time our society forgets this, and to understand it, we need to talk to indigenous people, original people from their land, because they remember.”

Addressing the delegates, Vanessa Hasson, executive director of NGO MAPAS, UN Harmony with Nature Program, spoke about the importance of recognising that “we all are nature and nature is not for us to use. We need to use the ancestral knowledge of indigenous communities to live in harmony with nature.” Hasson described how, in Brazil, MAPAS has enabled the recognition of nature’s rights in five municipalities, the last one being the Guajará-Mirim, in the north of the country. The author of the law is, for the first time, a member of the local Warí indigenous community.

Kevin Escoffier, skipper of Team Holcim PRB and Torben Grael, Olympic and Ocean Race sailing Champion on stage at the Itajaí summit with host Danni Washington | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean RaceKevin Escoffier, skipper of Team Holcim PRB and Torben Grael, Olympic and Ocean Race sailing Champion on stage at the Itajaí summit with host Danni Washington | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race

Sharing their strong connection with the ocean, summit speakers included champion athletes: one of the sailors competing in The Ocean Race — skipper of Team Holcim-PRB, Kevin Escoffier — alongside legendary Brazilian sailor Torben Grael, twice Olympic champion, and winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup and The Ocean Race 2008-09.

Speaking about his experience sailing through the Southern Ocean last month, Escoffier said: “I am very lucky to be passionate about offshore sailing, but also about the ocean. In The Ocean Race, I am able to do both. Over my racing career, I have seen changes in the ocean and this has impacted the racing. During Leg 3 we saw that the ice around Antarctica is melting faster and sending icebergs into the sea in a way we have not experienced before. Because of this, the Ice Exclusion Zone was at times further north than we ever experienced before.”

The Ice Exclusion Zone is a ‘no go’ zone created by the race organisers to prevent boats from racing through areas of the ocean with icebergs, which could put them at risk. As this zone gets bigger and shifts further north, the tactical options in the race decrease. In the absence of an Ice Exclusion Zone, the sailors would normally push even further south, as this is a shorter route and generally has stronger winds.

“Today we know we can’t just race with a ‘win at all costs’ mindset,” continued Escoffier. “We have to change our thinking. If you want to achieve something great, everybody has to pull in the same direction. In this race, every team, every boat is carrying its own message around sustainability and the ocean and helping to shift the conversation so that we can continue to enjoy our beautiful ocean.”

Grael said: “We have to change and lead by example, and the key point here is children and education. I think kids are more open to change, when you explain the damage made by pollution and plastic they get it!”

Addressing the event, Janaina Banwart, oceanographer and fisheries scientist at the Santa Catarina Institute of Fisheries, said: “In regards to artisanal fisheries in the region of Santa Catarina, some aspects I observed working at school is the importance of education and accurate information so that people can achieve sustainable development goals.”

Noting this year marks the 50th anniversary of The Ocean Race, race chairman Richard Brisius said: “As explained at The Ocean Race Summit, life really is animated water. You are the ocean and the ocean is you: there is no separation.”

Describing the dire pollution issue affecting the Baltic Sea, in his home country Sweden, Brisius stressed the need for fair play and clear rules: “The ocean doesn’t need us humans, but us humans need the ocean. If you have an interest in breathing oxygen in the future, the ocean is your interest. Sport can change the world, and around the world racing in particular as it brings people together across borders and cultures.

“Speed is fundamental to success. In sailing, for every decision we take on board we ask ourselves, ‘Does this make the boat go faster?’ Transferring that to ocean rights, we have to ask ourselves when taking action, ‘Will this help the ocean?‘’”

Rodolfo Werner, senior advisor (Antarctica and Southern Ocean) at The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), said: “Antarctic protection is not an option; it is a necessity.”

Tamara Klink, writer, navigator and speaker was featured in a video message: “Nature will find its balance, but we are the most fragile part of this system. And defending the ocean’s rights is mainly defending the rights of the people that don't have power to defend their own. Sailing is something that can be very frustrating sometimes because of the forces of nature that are so much bigger than ours. So there is this power of the will that pushes us to do things that are completely crazy and nonsense. It can also push other people to go beyond their limits on land.”

Marcos José de Abreu, aka Marquito, State Deputy of Santa Catarina Legislative Assembly and president of the Environment and Tourism Commission, addresses the summit | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean RaceMarcos José de Abreu, aka Marquito, State Deputy of Santa Catarina Legislative Assembly and president of the Environment and Tourism Commission, addresses the summit | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race

In his closing remarks, Marquito, State Deputy of the Santa Catarina Legislative Assembly and president of the Environment and Tourism Commission, stressed the pressing need to see “nature as a subject of rights”.

Ricardo Rapunik, senior consultant of Brazil’s National Association of Municipalities and Environment highlighted: “We need technical qualification for decision-making on the protection of the oceans. If we don’t have information technicians, we can't make good decisions.”

Lucy Hunt, senior advisor, summits and learning at The Ocean Race wrapped up the event saying: “We need to acknowledge traditional wisdom and remember to have reverence for our shared planet; to think about our place here on Mother Earth, that we are part of nature, not apart from it.”

The Relay4Nature ceremony to mark the handoff of Nature’s Baton at The Ocean Race Summit Itajaí | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean RaceThe Relay4Nature ceremony to mark the handoff of Nature’s Baton at The Ocean Race Summit Itajaí | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race

Also at the event, Relay4Nature — an initiative by The Ocean Race and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, which involves a symbolic baton passing between teams and global leaders — saw Nature’s Baton passed to Kerexu after it was brought to Itajaí by Team Holcim-PRB. Connecting the world´s key environmental events, Relat4Nature champions the ocean and calls on leaders to take urgent action to protect nature.

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