The Hague served up some of the best racing conditions the IMOCA fleet has seen in this edition of The Ocean Race on Tuesday afternoon. Bright sunshine and strong winds approaching 20 knots made for fast and furious foiling for the In-Port Race.
Benjamin Dutreux’s GUYOT environnement-Team Europe hit the starting line at top speed, on the foils, and he was able to sail directly over the top of Team Holcim-PRB and poke in front of 11th Hour Racing Team for good measure.
With the flying IMOCA boats leaping out of the water on their foils and the sailors just on the edge of control, it was a fast reach to the first mark. At one point, it looked like Dutreux might not be able to lay the mark, but he was just able to squeeze up and take the inside track around mark 1, just seconds ahead of 11th Hour Racing Team.
Boris Herrmann’s Team Malizia was close behind and with an early gybe, took the inside lane to pass 11th Hour Racing Team. Meanwhile, Dutreux extended away to build his lead on the first lap of the race course. Charlie Enright’s 11th Hour Racing Team was able to regain second place from Malizia just before the end of lap 1 while Biotherm and Team Holcim-PRB exchanged positions further back.
On the second lap of the race course – extended slightly in the strong winds – all teams held their nerve and position. Over the rest of lap 2, Benjamin Dutreux and his crew sailed a flawless race in the challenging conditions to cross the finishing line and earn their first win of The Ocean Race.
After their emotional comeback from a dismasting, this will be a popular result amongst The Ocean Race family and race fans, a just reward for a team that has shown remarkable resilience in getting onto the start line time and again after numerous setbacks. ,,It’s nice, so nice”, said Dutreux moments after crossing the line. ,,Great team spirit. It was very much about pushing hard and concentrating. It’s great, I am happy to bring a win for all of the team.”
,,We’re happy. We raced very calm, very clean”, said Annie Lush from the winning boat. ,,It’s really nice to get a win. We know the others are pushing hard as these results really count for some of the other teams, so it’s good to know we can still be faster than them even when the others are pushing that hard.’’
The second place finish for Charlie Enright’s 11th Hour Racing Team puts them in a very strong position on the In-Port Race leaderboard. This will give the American team additional comfort heading into the final leg of The Ocean Race, as the In-Port series standings act as a tie breaking mechanism for the overall race leaderboard. Enright: ,,That was super intense, it was windy and we had some serious jockeying for position at the start with Holcim-PRB. The start was in 20 knots, and by marks 1 and 2 it was nearly 25 knots! The whole team did a great job today. We got really close to the starting line but we were able to get over the top of Holcim-PRB and put it away early. Malizia got around us but we got them back and added another point on them on the scoreboard as well.’’
Team Malizia held off Biotherm for third place. ,,These In-Port races are so much fun”, Boris Herrmann said.
The In-Port Race for the VO65 fleet is on Wednesday, starting at 17.40 local time in The Hague, with similar conditions in the forecast.
IMOCA In Port Race
- GUYOT environnement-Team Europe – 5 points
- 11th Hour Racing Team – 4 points
- Team Malizia – 3 points
- Biotherm – 2 points
- Team Holcim-PRB – 1 point
1. 11th Hour Racing Team – 24 points
2. Team Malizia – 21 points
3. Biotherm – 16 points
4. Team Holcim-PRB – 15 points
5. GUYOT environnement-Team Europe – 10 points