Dramatic Collision Between Ocean Race Boats During In-Port Race
In dramatic fashion and in a few seconds’ time, on June 15 shortly after the start of the final leg at the Hague, Netherlands, GUYOT envrionnement - Team Europe collided with the 11th Hour Racing Team and changed the course of the 2022-23 Ocean Race.
The term “heartbreaking” hardly covers it. The 11th Hour Racing Team had finished Leg 6 of The Ocean Race 2022-23 in first place, arriving into The Hague after 2 days 18 hours 11 minutes, and 52 seconds at sea. This had been the third leg win in a row for the team, having bagged consecutive first places into hometown Newport, Rhode Island; Aarhus, Denmark; and The Hague. Until the crash, 11th Hour Racing Team had been the leader of this around-the-world race.
The 11th Hour Racing Team was forced to suspend racing approximately 15 minutes after the start of the final leg, after suffering extensive damage when they were hit by GUYOT envrionnement - Team Europe. The collision damaged both boats, which returned to port in The Hague. No injuries were reported. On first appearances, it would appear to be a rules infringement by skipper Benjamin Dutreux's GUYOT team.
"Their boat appeared in front of me, and it was too late," Dutreux admitted dockside. "It was impossible then to avoid contact (after I saw them). I take all responsibility. It's our fault for sure."
For his part, 11th Hour Racing Team skipper Charlie Enright said he tried to avert a crash, but once he realized the give-way GUYOT boat wasn't changing course, it was too late.
"Obviously this is an extremely unfortunate situation," he said after returning to the dock. "We tacked on the layline to mark 4, clean and clear; I don’t want to speculate but it seems that the other boat didn’t see us. We were the right of way boat. The impact was forceful; we are very lucky that everybody is okay...
"Accidents happen and I know it’s clear they wouldn’t want to end our race, just as we wouldn't want to end their race. We’ll just have to see what happens next. It’s definitely not over until it’s over; this is not going to be the reason that we don’t finish the job. Whatever it takes—we will figure it out."
Shortly after, GUYOT environnement - Team Europe announced they would retire from the leg, and offered any and all assistance to 11th Hour Racing Team.
Back in the ocean
Following a feverish few days of around-the-clock boat-building and engineering, 11th Hour Racing Team slipped lines in The Hague on Sunday evening, June 18, bound for Genova, Italy.
The team isn't racing to Italy - at least not in leg 7 of The Ocean Race, as they have been forced to retire from the leg in order to expedite repairs and file a redress claim with the Jury. But there is now a race within a race, as 11th Hour Racing Team has set a goal of arriving in Genova in time to participate in the Grand Finale, concluding with the In Port Race on July 1.
“We are very tight on time but we will do everything we can to get to Genova to join the rest of the fleet for the Grand Finale of The Ocean Race," said skipper Charlie Enright. "We want to be there in time for the start of the In-Port Race on July 1, to give us the opportunity to compete in, and win, the In-Port Race Series. It’s a race-within-a-race, and the countdown is now on.
“We were determined that this would not put an end to our campaign for The Ocean Race, and I hope it is far from over. It is a testament to the hard work of the entire team that, just 72 hours after the incident, we are able to get back out to sea."
While both teams involved in the collision retired from the leg, only 11th Hour Racing Team has been able to make repairs that allows the possibility of reaching Genova in time to participate in the Grand Finale.
Also on June 18, GUYOT environnement-Team Europe left The Hague as well, but their destination is the team base in France. With no way of quickly repairing the bowsprit or the structural damage in the forward section of the boat, the team determined it would not have been able to sail to Genova in time. Instead, skipper Ben Dutreux says he and the rest of the team intend to come to Genova to meet the IMOCA fleet and pay tribute to all those completing the around the world race.
For 11th Hour Racing Team, getting the boat in shape to leave for Genova is just one piece of business the team has been forced to attend to in the wake of the collision.
11th Hour Racing Team has also filed a Request for Redress, which is a process that allows the World Sailing International Jury for The Ocean Race to award scoring points to a team if it determines that team has been prevented from racing to its potential due to no fault of its own. The redress hearing will take place June 29 in Genova, Italy.
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