What a day for the GUYOT environnement – Team Europe! With the victory in the Inport Race of The Hague, the team around skipper Benjamin Dutreux crowned the comeback in The Ocean Race. Already in the Pro-Am-Race in the morning, the black yacht showed that it is well prepared for the conditions with strong winds on the North Sea course. At the start of the Inport Race, the choice of sails paid off. With the mainsail in the first reef and the J2 headsail, the yacht was well balanced for the challenging conditions, showed a strong start and then raced to victory – the first major success in this The Ocean Race.
The spray flew into Benjamin Dutreux’s face, the pressure on the rudder demanded all his strength and full concentration on the tiller. But he mastered the conditions and it was the day for his team. Even before the start, he had declared, “We are on a good track and ready to sail fast.” He then put this prediction into practice. With perfect timing for time and distance, the black yacht came to the start line, had the highest speed and quickly shot past the overall leading team 11th Hour Racing. After that, the way was clear on the following two laps of The Hague race course.
The yacht pulled away in flat flying mode over the choppy waves, obviously letting herself be controlled better than the competing boats with the reduced sail area. All gybes and tacking manoeuvres fitted. The chasers from 11th Hour Racing and Malizia came close on the first downwind course. But when they managed to defend their leading position, there was no stopping for Skipper Dutreux, Annie Lush, Sébastien Simom, Phillip Kasüske and Onboard reporter Gauthier Lebec. The gap to the chasers increased steadily. When the yacht finally raced through the finish line, there was some disbelief at first. Was this the finish line? It was the finish!
Annie Lush rushed to her skipper, gave Benjamin Dutreux a big hug. He could hardly find words for the success: “It was good. We pushed hard the whole time and worked very concentrated. I am happy,” said Dutreux. And Annie Lush, who had done the work under the cockpit roof with Phillip Kasüske on the grinder, added: “I am a bit out of breath but very happy. We sailed very well, everything went smoothly and with clear manoeuvres. It was good to see that we could sail at that pace. Because for the other teams there was something at stake in this Inport race. That’s why they were pushing hard the whole time.”
After many setbacks in the past five months since the start of The Ocean Race in Alicante on 15 January with hull damage, mast breakage and the risk of retiring, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe has fought its way back with the return of the race to Europe and has now rewarded itself for the great efforts of the past weeks with a victory.