At 18:32 local [16:32 UTC], just 17 minutes into the start of the final leg of The Ocean Race 2022-23 and during the short, inshore race course, 11th Hour Racing Team’s 60-foot race boat was hit by competitor Guyot environnement – Team Europe on its port side, leaving a large hole in the aft section of the boat.
All crew are safe, and there were no injuries on either boat. The team dropped their mainsail and returned to the harbor in The Hague to assess the damage.
A devastated Skipper, Charlie Enright (USA), speaking on the dock, said, “We did our best to avoid it, and I don’t want to speculate on what was going on on their side of the fence. We protested them as a result, and the Umpires dealt with the Racing Rules of Sailing on the water, and Guyot were black flagged.
“All of that aside, those are the small details. The most important thing is that everyone on their boat and our boat are ok. 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.
“This race has a way of testing people in different ways – physically and mentally, and this is a test for our team. There is no team I would rather be on, that I would rather have with me. 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,” Enright concluded.
On returning to the dock, the team’s 15-strong shore team got onboard to take stock of the damage and consider a repair plan.
A clearly shocked and highly emotional Simon Fisher said, “I’m lost for words. We tacked on our lay line, sailing on starboard for 20 or 30 seconds. Charlie was screaming ‘starboard’ at Guyot, and they did not respond. The net result is that they have put their boat firmly in the side of ours. The bowsprit went right through our boat and came out on the inside. We are really lucky that no one got hurt; Charlie was sitting so close to the hatch. Thankfully everyone is ok.
“Personally, I refuse to admit this [race] is over. We would rather try to win it on the water, but we need to find out what our options are, if this can be repaired, and what our redress implications are as a team now, and hopefully move forward.
“I have seen plenty of stuff in my time over six Ocean Races, this is not one of the better ones, but we have a fantastic team, and going into today, we were in a fantastic position, and that is thanks to the team we have. If I wanted to be with any group of people in adversity, it’s them,” Fisher concluded.
The team has two workstreams: one is looking at the extent of the damage, and the team is speaking with the boat’s designers and engineers to make a full assessment. And in parallel, the other workstream is looking at the rules and redress.
For this final leg to Genoa, Italy, Skipper Charlie Enright (USA), has returned to the crew he started this mammoth race with back in January 2023. Simon Fisher (GBR) as the Navigator, Jack Bouttell (AUS/GBR) and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) as Trimmers, and Amory Ross (USA) is back onboard as the team’s Media Crew Member.
After a hat-trick of back-to-back leg wins, 11th Hour Racing Team is currently sitting at the top of the overall leaderboard, by two points over Team Holcim-PRB, and six points over Team Malizia. The team were setting off on Leg 7 of The Ocean Race 2022-23, destination, Genoa, Italy, with an ETA of June 25.
More news as it becomes available will be shared on the team’s social channels.