The Ocean Race 2023 came to an end with the festive Award Night in Genoa. It was the celebratory end to a spectacular adventure over the past six months. In the seven legs that took the fleet of five Imocas from Alicante to Cape Verde to Cape Town, around Antarctica to Itajaí and finally to Newport and then back to Europe via Aarhus and The Hague to the finish in Genoa, there were exciting finishes, fast-paced wave rides, 24-hour world records by Holcim-PRB and Malizia, but also hull and mast breakages, foil damage and sail tears and a capital crash. In the end, the race was decided in the jury office.
But all that was forgotten when 1200 guests from the teams and the race organisation, from the partners, supporters and companions celebrated the winners on 1 July. The 11th Hour Racing Team lifts the winner’s trophy once again – as they did before in Ocean Live Park at the official coronation in front of hundreds of fans.
For GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, which was the only team to start with an older generation boat, only fifth place remained after a series of damages. The team around skipper Benjamin Dutreux, Robert Stanjek, Phillip Kasüske, Annie Lush, Sébastien Simon, Anne-Claire le Berre and the onboard reporters Charles Drapeau and Gauthier Lebec only managed to finish three of the seven legs. A delaminated hull in the Southern Ocean, a broken mast in the North Atlantic and the self-inflicted crash with 11th Hour Racing in the start of leg seven kept throwing the team off course. Still the sailing and shore team always showed comeback qualities, defied all setbacks and came back again and again with a lot of repair work, until the crash, however, prevented a finish in Genoa with the black yacht.
But for the award night, the French-German team of the two team managers Alice Potiron and Jens Kuphal celebrated into the night together with the entire Ocean Race family. And the GUYOT environnement – Team Europe was full of joy that with the 11th Hour Racing Team the strongest team on the course was crowned winners, which they themselves had taken out of the race in a crash, but which then still achieved first place by making amends.
For skipper Benjamin Dutreux, a difficult but eventful time is coming to an end: “At the end of this race and this story, we were happy to be in Genoa to welcome the winner of the race and to talk to all the other teams. It was a nice farewell to The Ocean Race family. Now it’s time for debriefing and time to analyse everything we have done in the last six, seven months. It has been a tough time, especially for us it has also been a hard time. The team has always done a great job. I want to say a big thank you to the entire team. I am happy to have made the race. It was not what we had hoped for at the beginning. But in the end we are happy to be here, to have met the Ocean Race Family and to have had this first experience at this race. This race will give us strength and experience for the future of our project.”
Happy Robert Stanjek took stock on the evening of the award night: “The power and depth of this race is hard to put into words. A marathon over six months came to an end today. A tough race, an adventure, a challenge that crosses borders. It’s a very emotional finish here in Genoa, and we celebrate a well-deserved winner. Congratulations to Charlie Enright and the whole 11th Hour Racing for this strong performance! All the other teams also sailed an excellent race. Thank you for all the great days and nights, the thousands of kilometres we covered together around the world, and the unparalleled solidarity in the difficult moments. They are memories that will last forever.”
Team manager Jens Kuphal was also deeply moved: “Certainly, sport-wise, we did not achieve what we imagined and wished for. But this race, with all its stories, is so much more than just a sporting competition on the water. In the last six months we have had to overcome some situations and challenges, but we have always come back and written our very own story. Along the way, many new connections and friendships have been made and we are very proud to be part of The Ocean Race family from now on.”
Team manager Alice Potiron takes a look back at the past six months: “I remember the words of race director Richard Brisius in Alicante during our visit to the race headquarters with the GUYOT environnement management: ‘I hope, Alice, that you are well prepared. This race is emotionally intense, it’s a real rollercoaster, you come out different.’ These words echo in my head after six months of racing. Of course I was aware that we were going on an adventure where it would be difficult to control everything – but not to this extent: it was really intense, you don’t come out of it unscathed. We were clearly a Shore team made up of newcomers. We all made progress and became more competent. The other positive point is that the hard core of the Shore team is still as close as ever. This is a very important point for us as our adventure does not end for the French side of the team. A race like this can tear a team apart. But we can say today that we know each other perfectly. The mood is good and we all want to turn this adventure into something positive. I am very proud of our young team, which has managed to overcome some major technical, logistical and communication challenges. I say to the team: Well done!”