A dream for years, the hopes from endless efforts become reality today at 16.10 in Alicante. The countless hours of work of a now 40-member team culminate in the participation in The Ocean Race. At the moment of the starting signal for the first stage of the world race, the ups and downs of the preparation in GUYOT environnement – Team Europe reach their pinnacle.
The base of the French-German racing team was filled with emotions before the hours of the start, especially for the team managers Jens Kuphal and Alice Potiron. Over the past few months, they have transformed two racing teams into one campaign, bringing together the different goals, mentalities and nationalities under one roof. Now they are eagerly awaiting the start.
“I’m incredibly happy that it’s finally getting underway. The past 14 days have been so intense. Since we’ve been in Alicante, we’ve become a team. There is great trust on all sides,” says Jens Kuphal. “The boat is excellently prepared, the sailors are optimally adjusted. We are going into the race with great feelings.” For the 59-year-old from Berlin, the moment the yacht crosses the starting line, the goal of the job is achieved. “For me personally, this is an experience that you don’t have very often in life. Robert Stanjek and I set ourselves an almost utopian goal eight years ago, which has now been achieved. We would like to thank many people who have supported us along the way and brought us this far. I now hand over to Robert and our friend Benjamin Dutreux.”
The path for Jens Kuphal and Robert Stanjek began eight years ago with the idea of founding a German offshore racing team. An Imoca was found in the former “Acciona”, which was rebuilt from an insurance claim into a racing yacht through intensive work. In The Ocean Race Europe 2021, she came to race as “Einstein” for Offshore Team Germany under skipper Robert Stanjek and navigator Benjamin Dutreux, sailing unexpectedly to victory. The connection with Dutreux proved to be a flourishing one. The Frenchman bought the former “Hugo Boss 6” in the summer of 2021 for his 2024/25 Vendée Globe campaign, and the foiling Imoca also put him in a position to compete in The Ocean race – in cooperation with the German team.
“We are now inscribing ourselves in the history of this race. I am overwhelmed by this feeling. It also makes us so proud because we are among those who are helping to usher in a new era in this race. It is the first The Ocean Race on Imocas. We’re sailing against four top competitors, and we’re top-ranked ourselves. We want to achieve something, and we can.”
For Alice Potiron, who has been managing campaigns for Benjamin Dutreux since the last Vendée Globe, the start is still out of reach: “I haven’t quite realized it’s starting yet. The past year has been so crazy, the work so intense in the last few months and weeks,” reports the 31-year-old Frenchwoman, who with her husband, tech team boss Thomas Cardrin, occupies a central position in setting up the French-German campaign: “We’ve given everything we could. Of course, you can always do better. But we’re proud of how we grew together as a team in all areas. The crucial point in our cooperation was when we came together here in Alicante two weeks ago. Before that, we worked in a decentralized way. That made it complicated to move in the same direction. Now we have found our way. I feel very good.”
However, Alice Potiron does not believe in more calm in the coming weeks and months: “We are always immediately involved, collecting the information from on board, prepared for everything and already organizing the next stages. Nevertheless: this is a very exciting day. That’s what we do it for!”
Jens Kuphal wants to follow the moment of the start on the water – together with his son Jascha and his brother Gunnar: “We don’t want to miss saying goodbye to the crew and enjoying the moment. Even though I’m at the finish line now, I can imagine that it will continue after this race. Never say never!”