After a collision, the U.S. boat retires from final leg of Ocean Race, asks for a ruling

The leading boat in The Ocean Race dropped out of the last leg of the around-the-world sailing competition on Friday and asked the sport’s overseers for compensation in the standings to make up for the collision that punctured its carbon fiber hull.

Six months after leaving Spain on a 32,000-nautical mile (37,000-mile, 59,000-km) circumnavigation of the globe, 11th Hour Racing was T-boned by Guyot environnement – Team Europe 17 minutes after leaving The Hague, the Netherlands, for the seventh and final leg. Guyot skipper Benjamin Dutreux has admitted the collision was his fault.

Newport, Rhode Island-based 11th Hour has filed a Request for Redress to the World Sailing International Jury. It is empowered under the Racing Rules of Sailing to compensate a boat when “a boat’s score or place in a race or series has been or may be, through no fault of her own, made significantly worse.”

11th Hour was atop the leaderboard through six legs and the corresponding in-port races with 33 points. Team Holcim – PRB was second, with 31 points, followed by Team Malizia (27), Biotherm Racing (19) and Guyot environnement (2). The seventh leg, to Genoa, Italy, is worth five points to the winner, four for second place and three for third; without a ruling by the jury, 11th Hour would get zero points.

11th Hour skipper Charlie Enright said crews are working to repair the boat so it can rejoin what it started.

“We are working around the clock to repair the boat as quickly as possible, and our intent is to sail to Genoa to rejoin the fleet and complete this lap around our blue planet,” he said. “Everyone is obviously devastated – no one wants to finish a race like this – but spirits are high within the team, and everyone is focused on finishing this incredible race on a high note.”

The 11th Hour team had won three straight legs of the race to move atop the standings, giving the race’s only U.S. entry a chance for victory if it had finished in front of or only one boat behind the Swiss Team Holcim. But Dutreux said he didn’t see the American boat, which had the right of way, and crashed his bowsprit into the 11th Hour hull.

“I take all responsibility. It’s our fault for sure,” said Dutreux, whose last-place boat immediately retired from the leg. “I’m very sorry about this. I really hope they will get back and win this race. … We will try to help them all we can.”

11th Hour returned to port and began trying to fix the gaping hole in its hull, but decided on Friday it could not rejoin the race.

The crash was the latest setback for 11th Hour and its co-founder Enright, a Rhode Island native and Brown University alum who is in his third around-the-world race. He finished fifth in both previous attempts – sustaining two major setbacks in the previous edition in 2018: a collision with a fishing boat and a dismasting.

In this year’s race, 11th Hour noticed cracks on its foils near the end of the first leg, which departed from Alicante, Spain, on Jan. 15. The boat also triggered its hazard alarm after hitting what they suspected was a whale. Two crew members were injured in the collision.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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