Video: Ocean Race Grand Finale in Genova continues despite drama and shock of collision
All five VO65s left The Hague in full racing trim on Thursday afternoon, heading into Stage 3 of the VO65 Sprint… and there is an update on their positions further down.
Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the IMOCA fleet, where a dramatic collision has left three boats still on the course and racing towards Genova. One boat has retired from the leg after assuming responsibility for the accident, and the race leading 11th Hour Racing Team is dockside in The Hague and has been working through the night to determine the extent of the damage, begin repairs and assess their options for a return.
The incident itself was the type of accident that regrettably happens on rare occasions in racing. But it is a shock to see it here, in conditions of daylight and good visibility and on an uncrowded race course.
After 11th Hour Racing Team tacked on the layline for the next turning mark and established itself as the stand on ‘right of way’ boat, the crew on GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, required to give-way in this situation, apparently didn’t see the other boat until it was too late. The resulting collision caused enough damage to send both boats back to port.
“I was helming and I just saw their boat appear suddenly and it was too late,” lamented Ben Dutreux, the skipper of the GUYOT boat. “The contact was unavoidable (at that point). I take full responsibility. It is our fault.”
In acknowledging fault, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe has retired from Leg 7 of the race, a disappointing turn of events for a team that had proved resilient in coming back from an earlier dismasting.
For 11th Hour Racing Team, the damage from the collision is a big X factor the team now has to deal with. Currently at the head of the leaderboard and riding a wave of three consecutive leg victories, skipper Charlie Enright had been looking forward to a hard-fought race into Genova that, given the right result, would see his team winning The Ocean Race by beating their nearest competitor, Team Holcim-PRB, on the water.
Now, through no fault of their own, the story takes a different turn.
“The most important thing is that everyone on their boat and on our boat is ok,” Enright said on the dock, not long after the collision. “Where we go from here is uncertain at this stage. It’s life, it’s racing. There is nothing we would have done differently and accidents happen.
“This race has a way of testing people in different ways – physically and mentally, and this is a test for our team. But there is no team I would rather be on, that I would rather have with me. If anyone can figure this out, it is us, I genuinely believe that, we will just have to see what that process looks like as we get more information.”
His team is operating on two tracks at the moment, assessing repair options that could see them get back on the water heading for Genova in the coming days, while at the same time, working within the Racing Rules of Sailing and the rules of The Ocean Race to consider how redress may apply (the International Jury may award points to a team unable to race competitively following an incident caused by another competitor).
“Personally, I refuse to admit this race is over,” said navigator Simon Fisher, a veteran of the Race, when he returned to the dock yesterday. “We would rather try to win it on the water, but we need to find out what our options are, if this can be repaired, and what our redress implications are as a team now, and hopefully move forward.
“I have seen plenty of stuff in my time over six editions of The Ocean Race, and this is not one of the better ones, but we have a fantastic team, and going into today, we were in a fantastic position, and that is thanks to the team we have. If I wanted to be with any group of people in adversity, it’s them.”