The Ocean Race 2023 starts January 15, and of the five groups, two-time race skipper Charlie Enright (United states) will be amongst the favorites. His 11th Hour Racing Workforce was introduced September 2019 and unveiled their new boat practically two a long time later on.
Assembling the crew has been a do the job in progress, which requires 4 individuals of which at minimum a single remaining a feminine. Francesca Clapcich made the cut… here’s her story:
Much more affectionately identified as Frankie to her teammates, she’s a 34-year-outdated Italian Olympian and a member of 11th Hour Racing Staff.
Just below 6 foot tall and with a slender create, she stands out in any group thanks to two points: a collection of vibrant tattoos down her still left arm and a contagious smile that in no way appears to waiver.
Her Modus Operandi is challenging operate, laser-concentrate, and continual finding out. She has not changed careers as these kinds of, but she has switched from Olympic sailing to important spherical the entire world races, and that is no tiny feat in this very aggressive entire world of offshore sailing.
Rising up in a compact coastal town in Italy – Trieste – Frankie explains how the water was a aspect of everyday living for anyone in this town. “Trieste is designed around the water, everyone was sailing, rowing, swimming, playing or just undertaking a little something with the h2o. It was these types of a vital aspect of our community.”
Frankie’s loved ones experienced a small sailing boat which her father would often take her and her mom out on. “I distinctly bear in mind my mom throwing up more than the facet up for very long periods and my Dad laughing, those joyful early memories really stayed with me.
“As my buddies and family will explain to you, I can be very whole-on when it will come to activity. When I was young, sailing was ‘just an additional sport’ – while I do assume it was my Mum’s favourite as she was delighted it stored me occupied and out of the household for hrs on stop.”
Like quite a few offshore sailors, Frankie was affected by The Whitbread Round the Earth Race, the precursor to The Ocean Race, the walls of her childhood bedroom harbored legendary illustrations or photos of her sailing heroes in the decreased latitudes.
“Mum, I’m likely to just take my Mini and sail it in the southern oceans, and it is likely to be wonderful,” her mother Adriana recollects her daughter indicating, aged 5. “I was apprehensive at that issue and don’t forget indicating, ‘ayeeee nooo Francesca! Adhere to the shoreline wherever you can arrive house every single evening.”
As Frankie grew more mature, her passion for several sports activities was whittled down to two main contenders: skiing and sailing.
Eventually, it was sailing that took precedence soon after seeing the Olympics on Tv set for the 1st time. Again, turning to her mother and stating, “Mum, I think truly I’m heading to be an Olympian and get a medal… what do you imagine?”
With that, and with out a shred of self-question, a youthful Frankie established about her mission to come to be an Olympian.
She experienced a plan.
Just after graduation, she joined the Italian Air Pressure as one particular of its elite athletes. “In Italy, by becoming a member of the armed forces as an athlete it makes a governing administration-funded pathway to international competitions this kind of as the Olympics,” she explains.
Existence ran in Olympic cycles for Frankie and her relatives at this position. In the 4-yr construct-up to London 2012 (finishing 19th), and the subsequent 4-12 months establish-up to Rio 2016, she garnered a title for herself with consistently sturdy competition performances.
Throughout her next Olympic physical appearance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Game titles in the 49erFX with Giulia Conti, they came 5th, getting dominated the prior yr when they were Italian, European, and Globe Champions, as perfectly as coming 2nd in the European Champions in 2016.
To your ordinary individual, coming 5th in the Olympics may seem to be like the accomplishment of a life time, but for Frankie and Guilia, it was a bitter disappointment.
“We experienced these types of a sturdy observe document ahead of Rio, never ending outdoors of the leading 10 in competitions. Our rivals knew we ended up consistent and relentless. With Guilia, we experienced a fantastic partnership – a tiny extreme with two feisty aggressive Italians – but rows on the h2o would be overlooked by the time we arrived at the shore.
“We believed we would get a medal and we under-performed. The 4 boats forward of us deserved to be there way additional than we did. It is a prolonged tale, but in limited, we ended up also conservative.”
For the months that adopted the crushing defeat, Frankie committed most of her time to her good friends and loved ones she felt she experienced dropped touch with through the powerful training for her Olympic strategies.
Immediately after the disappointment of Rio and finishing 5th, Frankie felt burnt out and knew modify was necessary. With offshore sailing and all those childhood posters nonetheless at the back again of her thoughts, she commenced asking all over for possibilities.
“I read Dee Caffari was hunting for crew for her Ocean Race marketing campaign ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ so I despatched her my CV. It was a person of individuals excruciating times the place I waited, and waited, and waited I consistently refreshed my email messages. It wasn’t right until I discovered myself obsessing about my inbox that I realized how badly I wanted this.”
Dee Caffari and the Change the Tide on Plastic administration team saw one thing in Frankie. Anything that was not related to ocean racing encounter as she experienced so couple offshore miles.
“I simply cannot say for sure, but I consider perhaps it was the do the job ethic and the hyper-focused mentality that arrives with Olympic instruction. Also, international expertise counts, it’s not just the languages but the cultures throughout various nationalities, how individuals discuss to each other, how they offer with force, how they problem clear up for illustration.”
The Switch the Tide on Plastic crew were somewhat youthful and inexperienced, but this didn’t halt them finishing sometimes inside only a couple of minutes of the relaxation of the fleet.
“I’ll always admire Dee, it’s so quick to be the skipper and choose your greatest mates and men and women you’ve sailed with just before, but she didn’t do that. Her marketing campaign was about diversity, and it allowed men and women like me to have the possibility to kick-get started a vocation in offshore sailing.”
Coincidentally, this is wherever Frankie fulfilled her now spouse and mom of her daughter, Sally Barkow. A professional sailor herself, Sally and Frankie fulfilled back again in 2017, and a organic friendship fashioned, which finally blossomed into a relationship the additional time they invested together.
Frankie remembers a defining instant when they went on getaway together in New Zealand in advance of the Pacific Ocean leg, which was one of the happiest situations in her life, and the subsequent leg, remaining a person of the most difficult.
“Sally and I had been shelling out a lot of time alongside one another, and we determined to go on vacation in New Zealand prior to the leg. I understood that the additional time I invested with her, the far better it was, and I was seriously happy.”
That leg of the 2017-18 edition of the race took the fleet from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. For inexperienced offshore sailors like Frankie, it would be the journey of a life time. Lots of can picture the ferocity, and that’s generally as near as they want to get to it, but for the mad couple of who get it on, the encounter is unequivocally total of highs and lows.
“Having still left Sally in Auckland, I experienced combined emotions about going. It was amazing, but it was so really hard. I was virtually freezing it was challenging to sleep, I was making an attempt to do every thing a single-handed so I didn’t slide more than. Sometimes it is tough not to go into by yourself. I found myself owning some dim times but I was helped a good deal by one particular of the crew who identified what was occurring when I was really overcome.
“They inform you it is this challenging leg and to be organized but truthfully, absolutely nothing can get ready you for how challenging it truly is. Rounding Cape Horn was epic but then we listened to that John Fisher, a pretty well-appreciated and revered member of another team, experienced been swept overboard and he could not be recovered.
“I assume for all sailors in that race, it was the saddest and darkest instant. I experienced been so targeted on successful and my target abruptly switched to individuals on shore who have been just ready for us to appear dwelling properly.”
A ten years ago, it was nearly inconceivable that feminine sailors would be an intrinsic part of each and every staff in The Ocean Race. Now, thanks to a rule transform for the 2017-18 version of the race, it has come to be the norm. And as Frankie will notify you, “too proper, why not?”
On the other hand, Frankie will also inform you it’s never ever just about remaining a female. Yes, the rule change has developed additional alternatives and a important advancement in gender fairness in just the sport, but eventually it’s about character, compatibility, teamwork, commitment, and skill.
“I never at any time want to be seen as a ‘female’ sailor, just a sailor will do. None of us want to be witnessed as a token. Due to the fact parity in the Olympics is so visible, when I was younger I assumed if I function tough, if I drive challenging I can get to the Olympics. But offshore sailing lacked opportunities for gals.
“Following the 2014-15 version of the race with the all-feminine Workforce SCA, and seeing individuals from identical backgrounds, it assisted me imagine what my path could be. When they received the leg into Lorient, France, it was a activity changer for any female in sailing.”
11th Hour Racing Team – Charlie Enright (Usa)
Group Malizia – Boris Herrmann (GER)
Holcim – PRB – Kevin Escoffier (FRA)
GUYOT atmosphere – Workforce Europe – Benjamin Dutreux(FRA)/Robert Stanjek (GER)
Biotherm Racing – Paul Meilhat (FRA)
The Ocean Race 2022-23 Race Plan*:
Alicante, Spain – Leg 1 start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22 Leg 2 begin: January 25
Cape City, South Africa – ETA: February 9 Leg 3 commence: February 26 or 27 (TBC)
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1 Leg 4 commence: April 23
Newport, RI, United states of america – ETA: Could 10 Leg 5 commence: May possibly 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May perhaps 30 Leg 6 start off: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11 Leg 7 commence: June 15
Genova, Italy – The Grand Finale – ETA: June 25, 2023 Remaining In-Port Race: July 1, 2023
* To be verified – Prologue: September to December 2022
The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race and Whitbread Round the Planet Race) will be raced in two lessons of boats: the substantial-functionality, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the just one-layout VO65 course which has been employed for the very last two editions of the race. Entries in the IMOCA 60 course will contend for The Ocean Race trophy, although all those racing the VO65s will chase the Ocean Problem Trophy. The 14th version was at first planned for 2021-22 but was postponed 1 calendar year because of to the pandemic.