Wide image of team Guyot's docked in the Hague before the start of Leg 7 of the Ocean Race 2023
© GUYOT environment - Team Europe | Gauthier Lebec

Ocean Race Leg 7 - 2023

By  Matthew Crowe  -  01 May 2024

The last leg of The Ocean race, from The Hague to Genoa, started quite literally with a crash. Just 15 minutes after crossing the start line, two of the five Imoca 60s – the race leader 11th Hour Racing and Guyot – collided at high speed. Guyot, sailing on port tack, should have given way to 11th Hour Racing on starboard but they simply did not see the other boat until it was too late.

© GUYOT environment - Team Europe | Gauthier Lebec


It was a devastating setback for 11th Hour Racing, who had won the last three legs of The Ocean Race and were two points ahead on the overall leaderboard going into the final leg. In a bitter twist of irony, Guyot was only there because the 11th Hour team had lent them a spare mast, after their own mast broke in a storm during Leg 5.


None of the crew on either boat were injured in the crash although it was a close call for 11th Hour skipper Charlie Enright, as the bow of Guyot missed him by mere centimetres as it sliced into his boat’s hull. Both boats were damaged and both teams were obliged to retire from Leg 7. Guyot skipper Ben Dutreux, who was on the helm when it happened, accepted full responsibility for the collision but the damage was done. Rather than being won on the water, the overall result for this edition of The Ocean Race will be decided in a World Sailing jury hearing on 29 June.


Meanwhile, the rest of the two fleets – the three other Imoca 60s that have raced around the world and the separate fleet of five VO65s competing for the Ocean Race Sprint Cup – continued their race to Genoa. Team Jajo, who had won the in-port racing in their home harbour, established an early lead in the VO65 fleet with WindWhisper, the overall leader, right on their tail. In the Imocas, Holcim charged off the line with impressive speed and led their two remaining rivals from the North Sea into the English Channel.


And then the wind died. The pace of racing slowed to a crawl as the boats gybed their way out of the English Channel and into the Celtic Sea, with the VO65 fleet close together and about 50 miles ahead of the Imocas, whose hydrofoils slow them down in in very light winds by causing additional drag. When a little bit more breeze eventually came, it was from south-southwest – absolutely the wrong direction when you’re trying to cross the Bay of Biscay.


In a bold tactical move, the VO65 WindWhisper headed due west – away from their destination – in search of wind. The others continued tacking south-west at a snail’s pace for a while before following them out into the Atlantic. Back in The Hague, 11th Hour Racing was back on the water again after their technical team had worked non-stop for 72 hours to fix their broken boat. Although forced to retire from Leg 7, they were still hoping to sail to Genoa for the in-port race on 1 July.


The very light breezes continued for days, all the way across Biscay and down the Spanish and Portuguese coasts, with near constant changes in wind direction to test the crews’ endurance. WindWhisper sailed remarkably well, extending their lead over the other VO65s to 90 miles. With a thousand miles still to sail, Holcim was still the leading Imoca but only just, with Biotherm just 10 miles astern and Malizia 20 miles behind.


© Team Holcim PRB

WindWhisper’s hard-won lead paid big dividends as they found a bit of breeze coming into the Mediterranean and extended the gap between them and the rest of the two fleets to about 150 miles. An intense and close-fought duel went on for days, meanwhile, between Jajo and Mirpuri, engaged in a tacking battle for second place.


Both Jajo and Mirpuri were hit by orcas in the approach to the Gibraltar Strait, which has become infamous in the last few years for killer whale attacks on sailing boats. No major damage was sustained by either team, despite the orcas ramming their hulls and biting their rudders in a frightening encounter for the crews.


The three Imocas remained close together, all in contention for the lead, as they made their way up the Spanish Mediterranean coast in fluky, fickle winds. Holcim made a break, tacking off towards Algeria for about 100 miles, and then reconverted with the others having gained about 20 miles – a relatively small reward but nonetheless potentially crucial.


WindWhisper sailed into Genoa on Monday 26 June, a full day ahead of the rest of the two fleets, sealing a remarkable victory for the team who have dominated all three legs of the Ocean Race Sprint Cup. More than 24 hours later the second-placed VO65, Team Jajo, crossed the line.


Holcim led the Imocas for almost the entire distance from The Hague but then, in a bold and decisive tactical move on the final night, Boris Herrman’s Malizia broke away from their rivals. Heading close inshore, they found a bit of wind that never reached the other two boats. Malizia crossed the line at 1320 local time on Tuesday 27 June, minutes after the VO65 Team Jajo – and then the light breeze died completely.


Biotherm made it across the finish line at 1500, in second place and Holcim came in third, just five minutes later. The Leg 7 results left Holcim only one point ahead of 11th Hour Racing on the overall leaderboard. Two days later, at the jury hearing, 11th Hour Racing Team was awarded four points of redress – an average of their points on the six previous legs – for the collision that had forced them out of from Leg 7. And that very same day Charlie Enright’s crew sailed into Genoa to receive the heroes’ welcome they deserved as the overall winners of The Ocean Race.


Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Leg 4 Leg 5 Leg 6 Leg 7 Penalty Total
11 HRT 4 3 6 5 10 5 4 - 37
HOLCIM 5 5 9 0 8 4 3 - 34
MALIZ 3 2 9 4 6 3 5 - 32
BIOTH 2 4 4 3 4 2 4 - 23
GUYOT 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 -1 2


Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Total
WHSPR 6 6 6 18
TJAJO 5 4 5 14
AUTOR 4 3 3 10
VIMEX 2 2 4 8
MFRTP 0 5 2 7
AMBR2 3 0 0 3

Did not Start

Did not finish



Given Redress


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