Fascination and respect

The GUYOT environnement – Team Europe has all the pieces of The Ocean Race puzzle, but exactly how they will be put together on the seven legs around the world has not yet been decided. The two co-skippers Robert Stanjek and Benjamin Dutreux are relying on the basis from their victorious performance in The Ocean Race Europe 2021 for the world race, which will start on 15th January in Alicante/Spain. To this end, they have strengthened the crew in the consistent continuation of their team idea and brought together European sailors with a wide range of skills. In addition to Dutreux and Stanjek, Annie Lush, Támara Echegoyen, Sébastien Simon and Phillip Kasüske make up the sextet for the race, which will be supplemented with another female sailor as back-up.

“We did our homework early and well in putting the team together, we are proud of the quality we have on board,” says Robert Stanjek from Berlin. The division of labour between the 41-year-old and Benjamin Dutreux (32) will be the same as in The Ocean Race Europe: “Ben sets the navigational strategy. I trust him completely. Over the basic idea, I will put the risk management and react to the other teams.” So the experience of Vendée Globe sailor Dutreux and Olympic sailor Stanjek will be combined.

With Sébastien Simon (32), Benjamin Dutreux has a long-time companion and experienced Imoca sailor on his side, who will support him in defining the strategy before the stages and will also take over the performance analysis afterwards. In addition, Simon will come on board for Dutreux in some legs and act as co-skipper alongside Stanjek. “I haven’t sailed any regattas with Seb yet, but the division of labour should work the same as with Ben.”

Annie Lush has an eye on all the stretchers, halyards, sheets on board. The 42-year-old Brit will tickle the last percentage points of performance out of the yacht. Her experience from two round-the-world races in the Volvo Ocean Race will also provide important input for the team structure on the long legs. “Annie is a very crucial building block in our team structure,” says Stanjek. But as a young mother, she will not be on board for all the stages and will then be replaced by Támara Echegoyen. The 38-year-old Spaniard also has experience from the Volvo Ocean Race and will quickly fit into the team. “Támara is a performance sailor who will get everything out of the boat,” Stanjek is convinced.

The powerhouse in the GUYOT environnement – Team Europe is 28-year-old Phillip Kasüske. The sailor from Berlin will use his power at the grinder and, in cooperation with Stanjek, provide the necessary horsepower at the crank. In the manoeuvres, he is also the first on the bow with Benjamin Dutreux, Robert Stanjek moves up if an extra hand is needed.

In addition, the observation of the on-board systems is divided up. Mechanics and hydraulics are the responsibility of Phillip Kasüske, electronics of Benjamin Dutreux, the rigging system of Robert Stanjek and the sails of Annie Lush.

“The division of tasks is tried and tested from The Ocean Race Europe. The core team knows each other well. That is certainly one of our plus points,” says Stanjek. The cooperation with onboard reporter Charles Drapeau will also run smoothly: “Charles is not only a good sailor and engineer, he also knows the boat down to the last detail. He knows exactly how to act in his work.”

With the team line-up well-rehearsed, the crew will set off on the first leg of the 1900 nautical mile race from Alicante to Mindelo on São Vicente in Cape Verde on 15 January (4pm CET). There, Sébastien Simon takes over from Benjamin Dutreux and sails to Cape Town with Robert Stanjek and Phillip Kasüske, as well as a woman yet to be nominated. And in the Southern Ocean from Cape Town to Itajaí, Brazil, Benjamin Dutreux, Sébastien Simon and Annie Lush will join Robert Stanjek as the team’s combined Imoca and Ocean Race expertise takes on the mammoth leg of this race. “Itajaí will be the turning point of the race. Until we get to Brazil, it’s all about arriving in one piece. After that, the teams will push hard. How the positions will be filled in the second half of the race remains to be seen. The key stage will be the double-graded leg from Newport to Aarhus,” says Stanjek.

Until then, the learning curve of GUYOT environnement – Team Europe should continue to go up. Stanjek: “11th Hour Racing is the team with the most training. The US team will come out of the starting blocks as the strongest team. But the race is long. It is hardly possible to estimate the strength of the other teams. Of course, we know many names, but the teamwork will be decisive. And the preparation has been very short for almost all of them. We rely on a flat hierarchy and open communication, so we should find our way together quickly.” The German is fulfilling another sailing dream with The Ocean Race after participating in the 2012 Olympics. In the world race, he wants to sail all the legs if possible: “I feel good physically. I still have to experience the mental strain of this race. I am in good spirits, but also full of respect – especially for the long leg in the Southern Ocean. But that’s what makes this race so fascinating. That’s why we sail The Ocean Race. It’s going to be a hell of a task with a mixture of fascination and respect.”

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