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    The Ocean Race: Polish Yacht WindWhisper Triumphs in Historic Victory

    It was a momentous occasion in the history of Polish sailing as WindWhisper Racing Team, sailing under the white and red flag of Yacht Klub Polski Gdynia, emerged as the undisputed champions in the legendary regatta, The Ocean Race. The Polish yacht proved to be the best in the VO65 class.

    It all began with a dream, a dream to follow in the footsteps of Polish sailing legends Copernicus and Otago, who astounded the sailing world in 1973 by participating in the Whitbread Round The World Race. Over the decades, the race underwent name changes and gained new sponsors, introducing new boat classes, but one thing remained unchanged – there were no Polish participants. The journey to fulfill the dreams of the Polish sailors began in 2019, with the establishment of Sailing Poland. It involved hundreds of hours of training, rigorous testing in regattas, gaining experience, learning from the best, achieving second place on the podium in The Ocean Race Europe, and finally, the participation of the WindWhisper yacht in The Ocean Race Sprint Cup on January 15, 2023, in Alicante.

    On Monday, just after 12:00 p.m., the red hull of WindWhisper crossed the finish line of the final leg of The Ocean Race from The Hague to Genoa. The Polish yacht arrived in Christopher Columbus’s city as the first not only in its class but in the entire fleet participating in this year’s edition. The team led by New Zealander Daryl Wislang had an impressive lead over the rest of the competition. As the corks popped on board WindWhisper, the VO65 class yachts still had over 100 nautical miles to cover, similar to the leading boat in the IMOCA class, Team Holcim – PRB.

    For the VO65s, it was the third and longest leg of The Ocean Race. Before the start, the skipper of WindWhisper changed. Spaniard Pablo Arrarte, who led the team to two stage victories (from Alicante to Mindelo and from Aarhus to The Hague), was replaced by the aforementioned sailor from Down Under. The race began on June 15 in The Hague, and the initial days were marked by lighter winds as the crews navigated through the North Sea, English Channel, and into the Bay of Biscay. In conditions that favored skilled navigators, Norwegian Aksel Magdahl, who fulfilled this role for the WindWhisper Racing Team, performed exceptionally well. Shortly after the start, he suggested heading further south than the rest of the fleet, which resulted in the Polish yacht taking the lead. Later, while navigating the Bay of Biscay, he once again decided to seek alternative solutions to the other boats. This allowed them to avoid a complete lack of wind and regain the momentarily lost position at the front. As it turned out, Daryl Wislang and his team did not relinquish their lead until the end of the race. While others struggled with a lack of wind, the Polish team extended their lead, which grew at a staggering pace. As they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, their advantage was already over 150 nautical miles.

    On June 21 at 12:03:39 Polish time, WindWhisper crossed the 37th parallel north, traversing the westernmost point of continental Europe – Cape St. Vincent and the fortress of Sagres. They became the first among all competing yachts to achieve this, earning the prestigious Vasco da Gama trophy sponsored by the Portuguese Mirpuri Foundation.

    The WindWhisper Racing Team remained focused and flawless until the very last mile. Thousands of people witnessed their finish in Genoa. The joy at the finish line was immense. It was the third leg and the third victory. The Polish yacht’s triumph in the overall classification of The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup became a reality. It is worth emphasizing that this victory was achieved in a fantastic, unequivocal style. It is an enormous and unprecedented success for the crew, the organizing team, and Polish sailing as a whole. After 50 years, a yacht under the white and red flag has once again astonished the world.

    The Ocean Race is one of the most renowned oceanic stage races. It takes place every three to four years. The first edition was held in 1973 under the name Whitbread Round the World Race. Two Polish yachts, Copernicus under the command of Zygfryd Perlicki and Otago led by Zdzisław Pieńkawa, participated in that race. Both boats managed to finish, securing the 11th and 14th positions, respectively. From 2001 to 2018, the race was known as the Volvo Ocean Race.

    The crew of WindWhisper Racing Team in The Ocean Race consisted of:

    • Pablo Arrarte – skipper (during stages 1 and 7)
    • Daryl Wislang – skipper (during stage 6)
    • Liz Wardley
    • Aksel Magdahl – navigator
    • Stanisław Bajerski
    • Arianne van de Loosdrecht
    • Mateusz Gwóźdź
    • Gemma Jones
    • Phil Harmer
    • Robbie Kane
    • Thomas Rouxel
    • Tomasz Piotrowski – onboard reporter
    • Szymon Cierzan
    • Kacper Gwóźdź
    • Marcin Sutkowski
    • Neal McDonald
    • Antonio Cuervas-Mons
    • Magdalena Kwaśna
    • Guillermo Altadill Fischer
    • Kinga Łoboda
    • Tomasz Piotrowski – onboard reporter

    VO65 Class Standings for the leg from The Hague to Genoa (as of 11:00 a.m., June 26):

    1. WindWhisper Racing Team (Poland)
    2. Viva México (Mexico) – Distance to finish: 119.6 nautical miles
    3. Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team (Denmark) – Distance to finish: 123.1 nautical miles
    4. Team JAJO (Netherlands) – Distance to finish: 124.6 nautical miles
    5. Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova (Austria) – Distance to finish: 139.4 nautical miles

    WindWhisper Racing Team’s historic participation in The Ocean Race is supported by Bumech SA, WindWhisper, CISE, KHG Invest, Helly Hansen, and AWL Grip. The Polish yacht sails under the flag of Yacht Klub Polski Gdynia.

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