The Ocean Race Europe winners in both the VO65 and IMOCA 60 classes were decided only in the last few moments of the four-day passage from Lorient, France.
The one design VO65 class, The Austrian Ocean Race Project, skippered by Gerwin Jansen (NED), pulled off a remarkable come-from-behind victory to edge out Rokas Milevičius’ Lithuanian entry Ambersail-2 by just six seconds.
A further 15 seconds behind in third was Dutch skipper Simeon Tienpont’s Team Childhood I and the full seven-boat fleet finished within six minutes.
Meanwhile in the IMOCA class Nicolas Troussel’s CORUM L’Epargne (FRA) took the winner’s gun, ahead of Charlie Enright’s United States entry 11th Hour Racing Team in second, and Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut (FRA) in third.
Tuesday’s stint of high-speed, straight-line reaching back from the Atlantic turning mark had continued overnight for both classes, but at around 06:00 UTC Wednesday the entire fleet started to compress as the IMOCA 60 and VO65 crews began to strategically position themselves to round the large race exclusion zone which blocked their path to the finish line.
In the VO65s, long-time leader Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team was alone in choosing the northerly route, while the rest of the class squeezed together into a tight gaggle to round the south-west corner of the zone.
The final 40 nm of the leg saw the VO65s in the south racing line abreast with the leader board positions changing incessantly, seemingly with every new gust of breeze.
In the end it was The Austrian Ocean Race Project, a new team with a relatively young, inexperienced crew, who edged ahead to claim victory over second-placed Ambersail-2 with Team Childhood completing the podium.
Teams will get some well-deserved rest on Thursday and Friday in Cascais, before competing in the Coastal Race as part of The Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy on Saturday and the start of Leg Two, into Alicante, on Sunday.
1st: CORUM L’Epargne
2nd: 11th Hour Racing Team
4th: Offshore Team Germany
5th: Bureau Vallée
1st: The Austrian Ocean Race Project
3rd: Team Childhood I
4th: Sailing Poland
5th: AkzoNobel Ocean Racing
6th: Viva México
7th: Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team