The sixth leg of The Ocean Race delivered what the experts had expected of it. Admittedly, the 800-nautical-mile leg from Aarhus/Denmark via Kiel/Germany to The Hague/Netherlands was only a sprint compared to the other legs. But the course between the Danish islands, across the Skagerak and through the North Sea – past many restricted areas developed into a close fight between the five Imocas. After more than two and a half days of racing, the crews reached the finish line in just over an hour. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe with Benjamin Dutreux, Robert Stanjek, Annie Lush, Phillip Kasüske and onboard reporter Gauthier Lebec had to settle for fifth place, but finished only 15 minutes behind fourth-placed Team Biotherm of Paul Meilhat.
While 11th Hour Racing Team (Charlie Enright) celebrated their third consecutive victory at the penultimate stage of The Ocean Race, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe skipper Benjamin Dutreux and his crew found that the yacht is on the way to regaining full performance after many sleepless nights during the repair work in the past weeks. Whether in the light winds of the Baltic or on the fast ride down the North Sea to the final in the light winds off The Hague, the European campaign was always able to make contact with the yachts ahead of them.
“It went well. We still had some work to do on board after the big repair, had to find some adjustments first,” reported Benjamin Dutreux. “We still had to be careful with the rig and adjust the setup. It all felt good. But it wasn’t easy overall because many of the crew were still tired after the challenges of the repair. I certainly was. It was great to see the show in Kiel. But you had to be very careful with all the boats and all the marks.”
With new wind conditions after leaving the Kiel Fjord, as well as changing winds as the race progressed and many gybes and tacking manoeuvres all the way to The Hague, the team continued to be challenged hard after that, trailing the leaders by around 50 nautical miles at times, but fighting their way back and even passing Team Biotherm in between. At the finish, the gap to the front was less than ten miles. Biotherm had moved ahead of GUYOT environnement – Team Europe again, but at the finish both boats were within sight of each other. The big reward was missing, but the satisfaction of having made it back to the start in Aarhus and successfully completing the stage outweighed that.