In the final stage of the fourth leg of The Ocean Race, fate dealt a heavy blow to GUYOT environnement – Team Europe. On the night of Tuesday, 9 May, the mast broke on the black yacht in heavy sea and wind conditions. The crew with skipper Benjamin Dutreux, Robert Stanjek, Annie Lush, Sébastien Simon and onboard reporter Gauthier Lebec had tackled the announced heavy weather front around 800 nautical miles from the destination Newport with minimal sails to take all the power out of the ship. But even with the third reef in the mainsail and without a headsail, the rig did not withstand the forces and the mast crashed onto the ship. The crew remained uninjured, but had to make a great effort to free themselves from parts of the mast, the mainsail and the furled headsails (J2 and J3). Only the lower part of the mast could be saved, so that an jury rig could possibly be set.
In combination with the Gulf Stream and a strong low pressure, a high wave had built up off the American east coast. This was accompanied by winds that averaged 35 to 45 knots, with gusts above that. Although the crew tried to sail at as gentle an angle to the wind as possible, hard impacts in the waves could not be avoided. At around 2.30am (UTC), the mast broke after a violent impact on the sea. The first concern, whether the crew was all right, was quickly resolved. All five crew members were uninjured. To prevent further damage to the hull by the mast, the riggung were cut. Parts of the mast and the sails could not be brought on board.
Under engine, the yacht is now heading towards the American coast, would take five to seven days to reach Newport. Currently, only speeds of three to three and a half knots are possible, as there is still a strong swell and strong winds. Therefore, no jury rig could be provided to support the engine so far.
The crew is now working with the shore team to see what options are available to reach a port. The first choice would be Newport, but this would probably require the help of a tugboat. Halifax would be a possible port of call. The short distance and the supportive current speak in favour of the Canadian coastal city.
Skipper Benjamin Dutreux was not yet able to answer how a continuation of the race is possible: “First of all, it’s about reaching a port. Then we can discuss further plans. It’s not easy, we are only a small campaign.” Benjamin Dutreux gratefully accepted competitor Boris Herrmann’s announcement that he would do everything he could to help GUYOT environnement – Team Europe: “Thank you, Boris. We would like to return to the race. We have good memories of the finish port of Genoa since The Ocean Race Europe. We would like to return there.”