The Ocean Race had a dramatic twist when two boats collided at the start of the seventh leg on Thursday as they were sailing out of The Hague in the Netherlands, with race leader 11th Hour Racing Team left with a gaping hole in its stern.
The 11th Hour Racing Team were forced to suspend racing when they were hit by GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, with the collision damaging both boats.
“Their boat appeared in front of me and it was too late,” GUYOT skipper Benjamin Dutreux said after they docked.
“It was impossible then to avoid contact (after I saw them). I take all responsibility. It’s our fault for sure.”
The GUYOT team later said they would retire from the leg and offered their assistance to the 11th Hour Racing Team as they look to rejoin the fleet.
“I’m very sorry about this,” Dutreux added. “I really hope they will get back and win this race… We will try to help them all we can.”
Video footage from the camera on board the 11th Hour Racing Team’s boat showed they tried to avoid the collision and warn the other team but it was too late.
“Obviously this is an extremely unfortunate situation,” their skipper Charlie Enright said.
“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.”
The 11th Hour Racing Team are top of the leaderboard after three straight victories in previous legs and are battling with Team Holcim-PRB to win the Ocean Race.
“Where we go from here is uncertain at this stage. It’s life, it’s racing. There is nothing we would have done differently and accidents happen,” Enright added.
“If anyone can figure this out, it is us, I genuinely believe that, we will just have to see what that process looks like as we get more information.”