The leader of The Ocean Race, 11th Hour Racing Team, has been forced to suspend racing approximately 15 minutes after the start of the final leg, after suffering extensive damage when they were hit by GUYOT envrionnement – Team Europe.
The collision damaged both boats, which have returned to port in The Hague. No injuries were reported.
On first appearances, it would appear to be a rules infringement by skipper Benjamin Dutreux’s GUYOT team, who apparently didn’t see the 11th Hour Racing Team boat until it was too late.
“Their boat appeared in front of me and it was too late,” Dutreux admitted dockside. “It was impossible then to avoid contact (after I saw them). I take all responsibility. It’s our fault for sure.”
For his part, 11th Hour Racing Team skipper Charlie Enright said he tried to avert a crash, but once he realised the give-way GUYOT boat wasn’t changing course, it was too late.
“Obviously this is an extremely unfortunate situation,” he said after returning to the dock. “We tacked on the layline to mark 4, clean and clear; I don’t want to speculate but it seems that the other boat didn’t see us. We were the right of way boat. The impact was forceful – we are very lucky that everybody is okay…
“Accidents happen and I know it’s clear they wouldn’t want to end our race, just as we wouldn’t want to end their race . We’ll just have to see what happens next. It’s definitely not over until it’s over – this is not going to be the reason that we don’t finish the job. Whatever it takes – we will figure it out.”
Shortly after 20:30 local time in The Hague, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe announced they would retire from the leg, and have offered any and all assistance to 11th Hour Racing Team.
“I’m very sorry about this,” Dutreux said. “I really hope they will get back and win this race… We will try to help them all we can.”
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