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Vestas 11th Hour Racing starts transatlantic leg from Newport to Cardiff

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Vestas 11th Hour Racing starts transatlantic leg from Newport to Cardiff_2
Vestas 11th Hour Racing starting Leg 9 along the Newport shoreline Photo: Ainoha Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

"I might be biased because I am from here, but I consider this to be the sailing capital of the world," said skipper Charlie Enright. "Newport has shown its true colors this week with tens of thousands of fans coming out to Fort Adams to support the Volvo Ocean Race."

Despite fog and rain, thousands of spectators lined the shores of Fort Adams on Saturday for the Gurney's Resort In-Port Race, and Sunday's leg start to Cardiff, Wales. After a podium result in the In-Port Race, it was a tightly packed fleet racing out of Narragansett Bay on the 3,300 nautical mile journey expected to take 9 days.

"The transatlantic is an iconic ocean passage," said British navigator, Simon Fisher. "Leg 9 is an important leg. It's shorter but double points, so it counts as much as the Southern Ocean."

"The weather out of here is looking interesting, especially for the first few days, as passing thunderstorms will force the fleet to head southeast to get into the next front," said Chris Bedford, team meteorologist. "About one-third of the way across, they are going to hook into a fast-moving weather system before running into a high pressure off Ireland that could slow the fleet down."

There are multiple routes the fleet could take to the United Kingdom. A southerly crossing would get them into the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream with better wind pressure but it would mean sailing a longer distance. If the fleet opts for a more northerly route, the distances are shorter but the colder water could mean less breeze and favorable current, and the ice exclusion zones set by Race Control for safety could come into play.

The last hurdle will be navigating the finish into Cardiff. The coastal city is located in one of the most significant tidal regions of the world, with a tidal range of up to 10 meters. If the winds are light, it could make an interesting finish similar to the close racing into Newport.

After a nail-biting finish last week, the crew of Vestas 11th Hour Racing has been enjoying their time in the historic sailing city of Newport, Rhode Island. While in Newport, the locals, Skipper Charlie Enright and Boat Captain Nick Dana met with Save The Bay to learn about impacts of climate change and sea level rise on marshes in Narragansett Bay. This was part of the team's continued legacy project, with a $10,000 grant given to Save The Bay to support their coastal restoration work.

"I grew up around here and I've seen the degradation of these marshes," said Nick Dana. "It's pretty important to me know that we take action locally to protect them."

On Friday, Enright spoke at the Ocean Summit with fellow skipper, Dee Caffari. Both spoke about their first-hand accounts of witnessing marine debris and plastics' effect on the ocean while sharing many of the solutions they've seen while traveling around the world.

"I think I may get more sleep on this transatlantic coming up than I did during the stopover," joked Charlie before docking out. "It has been great to be home, but we are ready to finish this race strong."

"We are looking to continue our podium finishes," said Fisher. "For me, being British, a good result on the other end into Cardiff is also going to be extra special."

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