First withdrawal for The Ocean Race

Published on March 7th, 2023

The VPLP/ Verdier designed Guyot Environnement – Team Europe, an early generation foiler launched as Hugo Boss in 2015, is six years older than the next boat in The Ocean Race.

The foiling IMOCA is regularly slapping the ocean, and since its launch there has been an evolution of hull shapes to soften the blow, but hull construction has also been beefed up in the contact zone.

While Guyot Environnement – Team Europe has been continually updated, it is hard to improve hull construction and that is what failed after 600 nm in Leg 3 of The Ocean Race. When the team discovered abnormal hull bottom movements in the living area on Day 4, returning to Cape Town was their only option.

With initial hopes of repairing the hull to return to the race, completing the 12750 nm leg in time for the April 1 start of Leg 4 proved to be too much. Here is the statement from the team on March 7, 2023; Day 10:

GUYOT environnement – Team Europe will not resume the third leg of The Ocean Race, but after the repair in Cape Town/South Africa, will transfer the yacht directly to Itajaí/Brazil to rejoin the race on time and well prepared for the fourth leg. This decision to abandon the third leg was made by the sailing crew and technical team after the damage had been assessed and repair work had begun.

“The decision has been made; we had no choice,” explained skipper Benjamin Dutreux. “If we had resumed the third leg and sailed around the Southern Ocean to Itajaí, we would not have had time to prepare for the next leg.

“We would then have always been late on the other legs as well. In Itajaí, we still have 60 percent of the race to go. We lose 20 percent now, but then we will be ready for the remaining 60 percent.”

Arriving in Cape Town on March 4, and after the non-destructive testing of the yacht, no further damage was found apart from the delaminated area on the port side of the hull in the cabin area, but the repair will still take some time.

The current weather in Cape Town with wind and rain is not playing into the team’s cards. In order to be able to carry out the work, the yacht was placed on the cradles between the two team containers. Sheets were used to create a working area that was as protected from the rain as possible.

Before the delaminated area can be opened from the outside, the tech team around Thomas Cardrin reinforced the inner area with carbon laminate. On March 8, the outer carbon layer of the hull will be cut open and the Nomex core removed. The inner carbon layer will remain.

The honeycomb structure will be replaced by a foam sandwich core, which will be glued in place the following day. The GUYOT environnement – Team Europe received great help from Team Holcim in procuring the foam board and carbon fibres, as the special materials required were not readily available in South Africa.

After gluing in the sandwich foam, the open area will be laminated again with carbon fibres early on March 10. Filling, sanding, and lacquering work should complete the process by March 12, before the yacht is likely to be back in the water on March 14.

“Meanwhile, the sailing team is preparing for the transfer and the next stages,” said Dutreux. “We are now planning the delivery and the next legs. The transfer to Itajaí will be made by part of the sailing crew and the technical team.”

Thomas Cardrin, head of the tech team at GUYOT environnement – Team Europe, expects the yacht to be back to 100 percent load after the repairs.

Leg Three Rankings at 20:00 UTC
1. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to finish, 9764.0 nm
2. Biotherm, distance to lead, 399.4 nm
3. Team Malizia, distance to lead, 502.8 nm
4. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to lead, 572.9 bnm
GUYOT environnement – Withdrawn from Leg 3

Race detailsRouteTrackerTeamsContent from the boatsYouTube

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 (1900 nm) start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 (4600 nm) start: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 (12750 nm) start: February 26
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 (5500 nm) start: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 (3500 nm) start: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 (800 nm) start: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 (2200 nm) 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

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