The US-based 11th Hour Racing Team won the Ocean Race Around the World on Thursday, thanks to a jury awarding the tethered sloop the equivalent of second place in a leg it was unable to complete due to a accident that was not your fault
The World Sailing International Jury awarded the Newport, Rhode Island team four points for the final leg, enough for a three-point lead in the standings over the second-place Holcim-PRB team. 11th Hour captain Charlie Enright and his crew learned of the decision via satellite phone call hours before they arrived with their repaired boat in Genoa, Italy, for the traditional champagne trophy presentation.
«The circumstances of this victory are a bit strange,» said navigator Simon Fisher after the decision was announced on Thursday morning. «But the news that came this morning was a huge relief, and little by little it’s sinking in that we’ve won the race.»
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It is the first victory for an American boat in the 50-year history of The Ocean Race. It was the third try for Enright, a Rhode Island native and Brown University alumnus, who has finished fifth in two previous tries.
«This race takes everything from you: emotionally, mentally and physically,» Enright said. «I’m incredibly proud of our entire team who have worked tirelessly over three years to get to this point. There have been ups and downs, some incredible ups and downs, but also downs that have hit us all, but this was worth hearing.» news today.»
The 11th Hour led by two points in the race standings when it left The Hague for Genoa on June 15 for the seventh and final leg of the six-month, 32,000-nautical-mile circumnavigation of the globe (37,000 miles, 59,000 km). Just 17 minutes after the start, the 60ft Malama sloop was rammed by the environment GUYOT – Team Europe, puncturing the carbon fiber hull of the Americans.
Guyot’s skipper, Benjamin Dutreux, admitted that the collision was his fault.
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11th Hour protested to international authorities while making a frantic effort to resume the race; although the team ultimately conceded the stage, she was able to repair the gaping hole in her hull long enough to set sail for Genoa.
The Holcim – PRB boat arrived at the Italian port on Tuesday in third place, some two hours behind the stage winners, by three points; a ship that does not complete the stage is awarded zero points. But the jury found that the Americans were not at fault for the collision and were left in a significantly worse position.
11th Hour was compensated with second place points, leaving him with 37 points in the final standings, three more than the Swiss.
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«It’s standard procedure, which is to award average points based on 11th Hour performance in earlier stages of the race,» said World Sailing International Jury President Andrés Pérez.
Swiss skipper Benjamin Schwartz accepted the result and congratulated the winners.
«They had a great race around the world and they deserve it,» he said. «Unfortunately, we had to play the race in front of the jury here, but that doesn’t take anything away from his victory.»
Since leaving Alicante, Spain, in January, The Ocean Race’s IMOCA 60 Class boats have overcome physical breakdowns, giant flotillas of kelp and even invasive killer whales. After the second leg, 11th Hour had to replace the cracked racing foils that allow the boat to rise above the water and travel at high speeds; she also sounded her distress alarm off the coast of Newfoundland after colliding with what was assumed to be a whale, a collision that injured two crew members.
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But nothing jeopardized his goal like the accident outside The Hague, when Guyot rammed his bowsprit into the American ship. The 11th Hour arrived in Genoa on Thursday with the hole covered by a patch concealing the team name that had been painted on the port side of the hull.
11th Hour Racing co-founder Wendy Schmidt said the victory is also a victory for the organization’s goals of restoring the health of the ocean. The race unites the boating community around environmental concerns, with boats conducting scientific experiments along the way and spreading the message of ocean health.
«There is no life on earth without a healthy ocean,» he said. «I am extraordinarily proud of the entire 11th Hour Racing Team and all they have overcome. They did more than sail around the world. They carried the message of sustainability, with a singular focus on restoring the health of the oceans. Today, the true winner of this race is the ocean».