Bekezela accepts eleventh place on Race 11
Once tenth placed boat Washington, DC had crossed the Finish Line for Race 11: #SailConnected with SENA, Bekezela declared it would accept eleventh place and the one point awarded. The team officially completed the race in19 days, 1 hour and 6 minutes.

David Hartshorn, Bekezela Skipper said: “If we remember back to the start, we had all sorts thrown at us, cold upwind, kite dramas, breaching whales, some great boat speeds, and challenging, light, downwind helming. What Race 11 shows, as the edition comes to a close, the teams are so competitive and developed. Every mistake, every spinnaker collapses, every time you drift off course, costs so much more than it did on Leg 1. On Bekezela there has been a lot of laughter and humour onboard, combined with development for the new joiners on this race.

“A small mistake on the start line cost us, we thought we had paid the dividend, but then got caught up with some naval training. We managed to close the gap once, but it wasn't enough, we got consumed in some light winds over the last 36 hours. The night sailing was spectacular, the heat is something else. As a couple of the crew who joined in Seattle have said: “I wasn't expecting it to be so relentless, the training was hard, but this is at a different level completely.”

Leg 7 Race Crew Nicky Sloan said: “For me the biggest challenge of Leg 7 has been dealing with the disappointment and frustration of being in last position, given how competitive I am and what hopes I came to the race with.

“The best part so far has been collaborating with fellow crew – many of whom have been really patient with this novice sailor, as I’ve continued to learn and grow in confidence, albeit slowly!

“I’m most looking to a long run along the Panama peninsula, once we arrive there. My biggest take home message is that if you can’t control what’s happening to you, you need to change your attitude towards it.”

Wind shift places Washington, DC in tenth
The theme of this race has most definitely been its anyone's for the taking. And that was certainly the case for tenth placed Washington, DC. After a strong start, where the team found itself jumping around the top half of the standings, the fickle wind kicked in and the team struggled to make back the lost ground. The team crossed the Finish Line in 19 days, 1 hour and 5 minutes and is now motor sailing towards to Panama.

Skipper Hannah Brewis said: “We have finished! What a tricky finish that was, it felt as soon as it was declared the finish would be Mandatory Finish Gate 2 the wind button was switched off. The past 24hours of sailing we painfully watched the miles trickle down, the real highlight (lowlight) was when we were 4 miles from the finish, and the wind dropped to 1kt leaving us to aimlessly drift away from the line. But finally, after some patience, wind dancing and maybe some cursing at the sky, the wind filled just enough to push us over the line. It was a hard end, and I would be lying if I said we are happy with our overall position. Up until the last few days we were well in the mix, but the wind gods weren't on our side at the end, and we sadly watched the fleet move away. However putting the position result to one side, it's a race to remember, the beautiful stary nights, the starlinks, the many, many birds, the dolphins and the days of beautiful downwind sailing will sit firmly in our memories.”

Perseverance places ninth
Slow and frustrating. That's how Perseverance would describe the last 24hrs of Race 11. After taking a chance on one of the more westerly routes, the team covered just about every position between first and eleventh on the leader board across the 18-day race. Climbing from tenth to fourth over the past five days of racing, it seemed the competition was only between which of Zhuhai and Perseverance would scoop the last podium spot. Until the wind all but died in the west.

Skipper Ineke van der Weijden said: “We have just finished in 9th place, after a frustrating last 24hrs in which we saw ourselves slowly fall back from 4th whilst floating around in a dead calm sea with no breeze. Not quite the result we were going for, but the crew can be proud of how hard they worked all the way through to the end, even in the relentless heat. Right now, disappointment at the result and relief that its over are the dominant emotions. But once we have had that beer and shower, we can look back on a race that had some great highs."

The team finished Race 11 in 18 days, 12 hours, 13 minutes 54 seconds.

Eighth place for Zhuhai

Despite it looking like a podium could have been on the cards, Zhuhai slipped down the rankings as a result of the ever-fickle breeze. Skipper James Finney said: “So it’s going to be difficult not to sound too salty, but I also have to be honest. We made a few mistakes soon after crossing Mandatory Finish Gate 1 that cost us dearly in these closing stages, and as the person who is ultimately in charge of the routing of our vessel, these do weigh heavily on you, especially when the crew sail as well as they have given the conditions.

“In terms of a finish, we have been part of many wonderful, exciting, nail biting and adrenaline filled finishes so far this circumnavigation. I can’t really say this was one of them. This was up there on the paint drying scale, except in this heat the paint would have probably dried quite quickly. This, however, did prove how resilient and tough this team is and the mood on board is very much one of onwards and upwards. We have a few days motoring now to reset before a whistle stop tour of Panama and then we're out into the Atlantic for race 12!”

Seventh place Our Isles and Oceans
Our Isles and Oceans sailed over the Finish Line in 18 days, 8 hours, 28 minutes and 16 seconds, securing seventh place on the race.

The team followed in the tracks of fourth placed Yacht Club Punta del Este, however staying slightly more offshore . Still, they made good and consistent speed towards Mandatory Finish Gate 2. Skipper Max Rivers said: “Amazing to have completed Race 11, a really mentally challenging race with some highs and lows. Just incredible wildlife within the past 24 hrs alone providing jumping sword fish, turtles, dolphins, and boobies. The crew have done well to stay motivated throughout and faced the challenge with a positive attitude. Not the result we were looking for but really looking forward to our time in Panama to hopefully explore the old town and go through the canal."

Image: Our Isles and Oceans cross the Finish Line

Battle to the end for sixth and seventh placed UNICEF and Dare To Lead
In another nail biter of a finish, it was UNICEF that took fifth place, just 57 seconds ahead of Dare To Lead which secured sixth. Both teams opted for a more offshore route, and while the wind appeared to be lighter, in the end it held out to be more consistent and both teams jumped up the leader board from near bottom over the past 24 hours.

UNICEF completed the race in 18 days, 5 hours, 16 minutes and 5 seconds, with AQP Laura Hampton reporting from the line: “Race 11 over! 19 days of immense heat, challenging wind conditions, phenomenal wildlife and even a live missile firing range. It has been a tough battle mentally for everyone to stay motivated in the fickle winds and minimal progress amidst the stifling heat. This team have risen fantastically to the challenge. Our finish with Dare To Lead involved some stellar sailing, close racing for over two days and they kept motivating us to focus on the finish. Buzzing to have managed to sneak just 200 metres ahead of them at the line after such a tough battle.”

Image: Dare To Lead spotted from UNICEF- a nail biting end to the race.

Sailing over the line just 57 seconds later, and with UNICEF in eyeline, Dare To Lead completed the race in 18 days, 5 hours, 17 minutes and 3 seconds.

Skipper Ryan Gibson said: “We have just completed Race 11 and wow what a finish, again! We have been sailing extremely closely with UNICEF the past few days and several other boats in the fleet, but finishing within a few hundred metres of each other after more than 3,000 miles is unbelievable. Very proud of the team with how they performed and worked together this race, and they certainly deserve a decent result. There were certainly challenges, especially at the end with the heat and extremely light winds, however these have been some of the best sailing conditions of the entire circumnavigation, so it's been a fantastic trip all round! Look forward to getting down to Panama now for some rest before the next race.”

Savio Henriques who is circumnavigating on board added: “That was a long race. Thinking back on certain highlights seems like so long ago, plus the very slow and light wind sailing the past few days made it feel a long race. I really enjoyed and learnt a lot from the light wind sailing the last week of this race, so that was interesting. Also, all the crew got to helm multiple times with the Code 1 spinnaker as we had it up for 7 days in light manageable conditions. The finish was extremely exciting so that kept everyone motivated in the harsh heat conditions and tricky living conditions on board. We are all happy with the result and look forward to visiting Panama now and especially excited to be transiting the Panama Canal.”

Yacht Club Punta del Este slips into fourth place after last minute leader board switch
After sailing in eighth place for much of the past few days of racing, it was Yacht Club Punta del Este that leapt into fourth place after a tactical gamble paid off. In an attempt to find better breeze, the team headed inshore, hugging the coast of Mexico then flying over the Finish Line at 03:46:01 UTC, completing the race in 18 days, 3 hours, 46 minutes and 3 seconds.

Yacht Club Punta del Este Skipper Nano Antia said: “We are happy to have crossed the line after a hard few weeks. We had two days of good sailing, and we think we overtook some boats, which makes us very happy. Our tactics to go near the coast were thought to be for the next Finish Line, but it’s nice to know that we could capitalize a decent result. It feels bittersweet as we invested so much in going close to the coast in order to keep sailing to finish gate number three, but this beautiful intense finish with a great performance from the team made it worth a lot more. Now, seven days of motoring, we will have fun along the way on the Punta Tropical Tour.”

Circumnavigator Marc Drouin said: “From the cold to tropical weather, it feels great to have completed an eleventh race and now on our way to Panama before being back in the Atlantic. Amazing race with fabulous crew mates!”

Race Crew Stephane Letrudet added: “This is one of the most beautiful finish lines I had, back to back helming with Nano to the finish. Full moon, accompanied by dolphins.”

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