Oldest boat in The Ocean Race 2023
Published on January 13th, 2023
With five IMOCAs racing round the world in the 14th edition of The Ocean Race, the oldest boat on the 7-leg course will have been launched in 2015… a lifetime ago in this fast moving development class.
But Robert Stanjek’s joint campaign with Benjamin Dutreux took a big step forward when the team won the IMOCA class in The Ocean Race Europe 2021. Racing a boat that was not only older, but significantly less advanced than others in the class, was a reminder that you don’t always need the latest and newest machine to win.
Certainly, their success was helped by the light conditions that favored the older style daggerboard configuration and a hull shape that was more suited to such weather.
Today, their campaign sees the team in a different boat, one that is the oldest in the five boat fleet. Nevertheless, few see this as anything other than another serious and competitive campaign. And when the German former Olympic sailor describes his thinking around a project that he freely admits is new to him, it’s easy to see why his competitors are taking GUYOT environnement – Team Europe seriously.
“To be honest I’m pretty tired, but I’m also ready to go. In many ways it will be a relief to get out on the water with the focus of the race.
“Although I’m very used to the huge amount of work that goes into planning an Olympic campaign it’s easy to underestimate the amount of preparation that’s required for this kind of race. It’s a different kind of planning too. I started out quite stressed although now it’s better and things are falling into place.
“I’m not nervous about the race itself, instead the pressure comes from the huge amount of work that is required from boat preparation to getting everything measured and communicated with race control. It’s a big team, a big project, a lot of money, and I don’t want to make any mistakes.
“You also have to think a long way ahead and when you look at the whole event it’s a very complex competition.
“The good thing is that while it’s my first time, I have a super strong team around me with the likes of Annie Lush, Benjamin Dutreux, and also Sébastien Simon who’s doing a lot of performance analysis.
“But there’s no avoiding the fact that I feel like I’m responsible for bringing all those puzzles together and making the last signature. And it’s the thought of missing something that wakes me up in the night.
“But once we get offshore that focus will have to change.”
Stanjek’s IMOCA may be the oldest in the fleet but it is the one boat that is proven and has pedigree. Originally launched as Hugo Boss, this was the boat that took Alex Thomson to second in the 2016-17 Vendée Globe race.
Since then and as part of Stanjek’s project, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe has been optimized with a new set of current generation foils, the same as fitted in Paul Meihat’s brand new Biotherm.
The result is that the list of unknowns within this team will likely be the envy of others in the fleet who are about to set off with considerably fewer miles under their keels.
“One of the things that we’ve seen just from the limited amount of racing that we’ve done as a fleet is that these are very complex boats to sail and if you are confident and precise with your maneuvers, there’s always a way to come back. It’s one of the reasons that we are aware as a team that we cannot spend our time sailing with an excuse in mind.
“Instead, we take the approach that it’s good to keep the learning curve steep where egos are low and where you are discussing ideas and discovering new areas of performance. We have to move our knowledge and experience as a team onto another level. And that means being patient.”
The bottom line is clear, to Stanjek and crew The Ocean Race is as much a thinking game as it is about speed and endurance.
IMOCA: Boat, Design, Skipper, Launch date
• Guyot Environnement – Team Europe (VPLP Verdier); Benjamin Dutreux (FRA)/Robert Stanjek (GER); September 1, 2015
• 11th Hour Racing Team (Guillaume Verdier); Charlie Enright (USA); August 24, 2021
• Holcim-PRB (Guillaume Verdier); Kevin Escoffier (FRA); May 8, 2022
• Team Malizia (VPLP); Boris Herrmann (GER); July 19, 2022
• Biotherm (Guillaume Verdier); Paul Meilhat (FRA); August 31 2022
The Ocean Race 2022-23 Race Schedule:
Alicante, Spain – Leg 1 start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 start: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 start: February 26 or 27 (TBC)
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 start: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 start: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 start: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 start: June 15
Genova, Italy – The Grand Finale – ETA: June 25, 2023; Final In-Port Race: July 1, 2023
The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race and Whitbread Round the World Race) was initially to be raced in two classes of boats: the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which has been used for the last two editions of the race.
However, only the IMOCAs will be racing round the world while the VO65s will race in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint which competes in Legs 1, 6, and 7 of The Ocean Race course.
Additionally, The Ocean Race also features the In-Port Series with races at seven of the course’s stopover cities around the world which allow local fans to get up close and personal to the teams as they battle it out around a short inshore course.
Although in-port races do not count towards a team’s overall points score, they do play an important part in the overall rankings as the In-Port Race Series standings are used to break any points ties that occur during the race around the world.
The 14th edition of The Ocean Race was originally planned for 2021-22 but was postponed one year due to the pandemic, with the first leg starting on January 15, 2023.
Source: The Ocean Race