With the start of the fourth leg of The Ocean Race from Itajaí/Brazil to Newport/USA, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe is ready to show that it has more in it than the scoreboard so far indicates. After two fifth places and the abandonment of the third leg, the team around skipper Benjamin Dutreux wants to make amends. Together with Robert Stanjek, Annie Lush and Sébastien Simon as well as onboard reporter Gauthier Lebec, Dutreux wants to build on the good performance in the first days of the third leg before the hull damage forced the team to retire. After the repair in Cape Town and the Atlantic crossing, the three-week break from sailing in Itajaí was used to do detail work and increase the yacht’s potential by every percentage point. The foils and rudders in particular underwent fine-tuning.
Since the yacht arrived in Brazil from its transfer from Cape Town/South Africa, the tech team has wasted no time in enhancing the yacht’s performance. Despite difficult weather, the yacht’s foils and rudders were removed, carefully brought into base and then given a fresh cell treatment. Sanding, filling, painting and polishing was done until the hull appendages could be reinstalled with a fresh look.
Several thousand nautical miles in the North and South Atlantic for training, transfers, participation in the Route du Rhum and the first two legs of The Ocean Race have taken their toll on the fine surfaces of the underwater wings and rudders due to impact from particles in the water. “Some work was needed on the finish of the foils and rudders. Since the start of the race we have never found time to attend to this. But the designers and builders now felt it was necessary,” reports Dutreux. “So we took the opportunity to perfect the foils and rudders here. We would have liked to do the work after the Route du Rhum. But there was no time for that. We could only do the big jobs to get the yacht to the start of The Ocean Race. The details didn’t make it onto the list.”
Dutreux expects the yacht’s performance to improve after the work, “It’s the first time we’ve been able to work on performance. We now have a top-prepared boat for the next leg. But we have also been looking for other points to improve. It is a constant process of further development.” So the tech team crawled all over the boat to find out the reason for slightly damp areas and fix the leaks. In addition, some sails from the repair are expected and tested before the start of the stage. “So far we have only been able to inspect them on land. That looked good. But of course you have to see them in action,” says Dutreux.
While the skipper of GUYOT environnement – Team Europe shies away from formulating the team’s ambitions in terms of results on the scoreboard, he makes it clear that the crew still have a few scores to settle. “We don’t put any pressure on ourselves and we focus on our work. But we want to get the best result with what we have. We want this revenge. In the first two legs we showed that we are not far away from the others. And the first phase of the third leg went very well. Unfortunately, the damage stopped us. That’s why we want to sail with the same crew. We are able to achieve good results with this team and this boat. And we want to show that.”