After the GUYOT environnement – Team Europe reached Halifax harbour under jury rig and was embraced by his shore team, skipper Benjamin Dutreux tells how the emotions overwhelmed him at that moment.
The arrival was earlier than expected. That’s the good news. Usually whenever we say we’re going to arrive at a certain time, we always arrive later, or we arrive at night. Everyone was very happy to touch the ground, it took the stress and pressure off. It was quite an emotional moment because we were so happy to be back with the team and actually, I don’t think we really realise it, but we had been through something a bit crazy. It was heartwarming to be back with the team, to be back with our loved ones.
At the end we had no food, no gas, it start to become complicated but we knew we were almost there so it wasn’t a big deal. That’s life, it’s not serious. In fact, to come back like this with a damaged boat is so disappointing for everyone who has worked on the project for such a long time, because I think that it marks everyone. We are disappointed, but in fact I have the impression that the shore team are disappointed for us, but we are disappointed for them. It’s a mix of emotions, the emotion goes from one to another, everyone is very close and finally this damage and what happened really affected everyone. Everyone holds back a bit for 4/5 days, everyone is very focused and then suddenly everything got out.
When you put your feet up on the pontoon, you’ve arrived, so in fact the boat already there, everyone is there. There are no more risks, even if there are still many things to do. It’s the beginning of a new major stage in what we’re going to do next. The rescue mission has ended. It was quite an emotional moment. People sometimes from the outside must think: “We don’t understand why they’re hugging each other and crying just because they’ve arrived”. We were not close to death. In fact, we put so much energy and so many emotions into it, and we’re so tired that at some point everything falls apart.
What makes me relativise is that, we see a dismasting as something horrible to face, something very hard, we have the impression that our life is collapsing. A dismasting is technically one of the most complicated things to experience in a race like this. A technical failure that makes you abandon the race, whatever happens, it affects you.
This is the second time in a row that this has happened to us. You say to yourself “fuck, it never works”. In fact we put so much energy into this project that you have the impression that it’s a drama in your life and that you’re going to have trouble getting over it. But in the end we are not in danger, despite everything, we are the ones who decided to be there and we are going to get over it.
Ok, for a few seconds, we could have been in danger, but then, it’s over. There are so many more serious things happening on earth that’s what really puts it into perspective for me.
But when we arrived, there was a lot of emotion, I don’t know why. I think we’ve all shared a moment where we’ve all been scared for a few seconds and finally that fear for a few seconds after 5 days without seeing each other turns into a moment of emotion. It’s like seeing someone you haven’t seen for a long time, the emotions are multiplied tenfold. That’s what happens at sea, that’s why we have regular ups and downs at sea, very big downs and very big ups. It’s that the tiredness and the pressure generate this kind of reaction.
What was crazy was to see that the people on land that we found on the pontoon were not rested people, they were people who were as stressed as us and who had as much pressure as us. They could be technicians, communicators or logisticians, everyone is so involved, and finally, I think that’s what touched me the most. Everyone is so involved that in the end it creates emotion for everyone. In the end, it was a crisis situation for everyone.
Now we’re trying to settle down a bit, we’re in exel land spreadsheet mode, we’re just trying to put numbers and dates in boxes, to make possibilities, to make 3 or 4 options. This event puts our project in a delicate position. We want to bounce back and in fact we realise that everyone wants us to come back, not only us but also the other teams, the race, the people who follow us. We also really want to give all our potential to bounce back but now we need the means, we need time and we need to make it happen. So, we’re creating lots of options.
The boat is going to return to Europe by cargo ship, that’s for sure. It will be next Sunday, on the 18th it is loaded onto the cargo ship and it leaves on the 21st. In the meantime, we’re trying to find all the possible options to stay in the race, but time is running out and time is going fast.