On the fourth day of the fourth leg of The Ocean Race, the news of the dismasting on board of the leading team Holcim dealt a heavy blow to the race. Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident. Still in the night, the Swiss-flagged crew passed GUYOT environnement – Team Europe. While Holcim skipper Kevin Escoffier headed for the Brazilian coast and checked out port options, the European crew of skipper Benjamin Dutreux and co-skipper Robert Stanjek worked their way north-east in pursuit of the now leading team 11th Hours Racing (Charlie Enright, USA).
“Shocking news: luckily no one is injured, but it’s an incredible shame. Kevin sailed such a strong race. We actually passed him on sight tonight, spoke briefly on VHF. It takes a logistical masterstroke to be able to restart the race at any point. It is a great pity how quickly such a strong campaign breaks up. We suffer with it, of course. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” reported Robert Stanjek from on board. The experience of having to abandon a leg is still in the team’s mind after the abandonment of the third stage.
But the race goes on and the GUYOT environnement – Team Europe. Dutreux, Stanjek, Annie Lush, Sébastien Simon and Onboard reporter Gauthier Lebec are working to catch up with the other teams again. In the first few days, the mostly light breeze with upwind conditions did not play into the team’s favour. The older generation boat was at a speed disadvantage in these conditions and thus lost some miles. In the past 24 hours, however, they managed to avoid the countercurrent somewhat with many manoeuvres close under the Brazilian coast and thus made up some miles.
However, this also meant the crew had to make their way through heavy commercial shipping traffic and between the countless oil stations. “At night it’s crazy when you look at the AIS and see all these boats,” Annie Lush reported. “And if you look out, there are oil stations everywhere. At one point we passed through a field of probably 30 oil stations. With their huge platforms and bright, burning lights, it’s kind of scary and an incredible contrast to when we reached the area that’s without human effect.”
Life on board, meanwhile, is something the crew tries to make as comfortable as possible. Sleep and gymnastic exercises for the back help with the hard impacts the boat takes in the waves. In addition, a tea and tasty snacks away from the freeze-dried food provide moments of enjoyment. There was also much delight in welcoming a white-bellied booby on board, who took a break on the pushpit and stowed away for a moment on the Imoca racing yacht.