Please select your home edition
McConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 LEADERBOARD

Interview with Offshore Team Germany's Benjamin Dutreux after winning The Ocean Race Europe

by Vendée Globe 25 Jun 2021 23:16 PDT
Genova Coastal Race. The Ocean Race Europe, June 2021 © Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race

Offshore Team Germany have won the first edition of The Ocean Race Europe, clinching the overall victory by no more than four meters on the very last race, beating 11th Hour Racing and LinkedOut to second and third steps on the podium.

Offshore Team Germany's crew was skippered by former German Star sailor and world champion Robert Stanjek and includes Britain's match racer turned Team SCA round the world racer Annie Lush as well as home favourite Vendéen Vendée Globe skipper Ben Dutreux who, of course finished ninth on his first Vendée Globe. Dutreaux raced the Vendée Globe on a non-foiling Farr design which was previously Kojiro Shiraishi's Spirit of Yukoh. And so he is well versed in making older generation boats go well, such as Offshore Team Germany's Owen Clarke design which started life as Bubi Sanso's Acciona.

We caught up with Benjamin Dutreux, ambassador to The Water Family, who clearly has had a great first half of 2021, ninth on his first Vendée Globe aboard a 2007 Farr design and now on the winning crew of The Ocean Race Europe aboard a 2011 boat which had no foils.

Benjamin, you are a champion around Europe!

Benjamin Dutreux: "This victory is great, it is the icing on the cake! We weren't expecting it, but it added to an exciting human experience. I was in an international crew, made up of German and English sailors, with very different cultures, and what a nice mix. This mix went well as soon as we started our month of training that we shared at Les Sables-d'Olonne. And this race is a crazy thing, with new people to meet, cities to discover, all in all a sporting atmosphere.

What was the winning recipe that worked, pulling together all these ingredients?

B. D.: The invitation that I sent them to come and train at Les Sables was part of it. We got to know each other, in a context that was favorable to us because we had no sporting pressure. We were able to learn from each other, to push each other. But above all, it was the line up that Robert Stanjek set up that was correct: humanly, it worked, while it is not easy to live together for several days in such a small space. And then there were lots of different sets of skills. I learned from them; I hope they have learned a little from me.

From the Vendée Globe to this very strategic race, we have discovered that there are many sides to Benjamin Dutreux

B. D.: Thank you that is nice. I had a lot of nice feedback, even from great sailors, who told me that my routings were smart had an identity. That meant a lot.

Did you think this Ocean Race Europe was a success racing from Lorient to Genoa in three offshore races and two coastal races?

B. D.: I think so, yes, and the regatta was good because we stayed in contact with each other: everything was decided at the very, very end, on a finish line by us just being four meters ahead of LinkedOut at the line. That was crazy. There were also sailors from all walks of life: the open ocean racing offshore racing, the Olympics... It made for a very high level race.

Yoann Richomme, winner in the VO65 class with Mirpuri Foundation, said that this race deserves to be run every year.

B. D.: We talked about it, and I tend to agree with him. Well, every year might be complicated, but this race deserves to grow even in bigger mode with stages in northern Europe. It was great, the Mediterranean public got to see our boats and the conditions offer lots of twists and turns. Given the summer time period it won't always be the newest, fastest boat that wins, but hey, that might not be the most important thing after all.

Did your team members encourage you to tell about your Vendée Globe?

B.D: They questioned me about everything! But it is a bit beyond their comprehension. Sailing solo on these boats, I don't think it makes them dream at all, they don't have the drive and skills for it. Suddenly, they want to know why it attracts us, how we organize ourselves. It's interesting to talk to them about these topics. We have really different cultures, in terms of life on board. Annie Lush (Volvo Ocean Race expert, editor's note) wanted to do all the maneuvers quickly... while I was asking us to delay and slow it up. We confronted our ways of doing things. This is one of the things that intrigued them, about the way I sail. Together we struggled to move the sails, at each maneuver, four people And it amazes them that we manage to tack solo.

In your opinion, Offshore Team Germany is not set up for or interested in a Vendée Globe?

B. D.: It's The Ocean Race that attracts them. The skipper, Robert Stanjek, is discovering the open oceans and he loves it, but not solo. I invited them to think about lining up at the start of the Transat Jacques-Vabre, because the boat is nice and it goes fast. And then their goal is to continue to develop the culture of Ocean Racing in Germany. Boris (Herrmann) was instrumental in inspiring German sailors to have a taste of the ocean.

After this victory, you should have a permanent invitation on board, especially if, next year, the boat takes the start of The Ocean Race...

B. D.: I have the invitation in my pocket! (he's laughs). It's nice, but I would rather be at the start of that race with my own boat.

Related Articles

Norbert Sedlacek Koch's record challenge begins
The ANT ARCTIC LAB circumnavigation has begun Norbert Sedlacek Koch has set sails to accomplish his ANT ARCTIC LAB record challenge, to sail around the world nonstop, without assistance through all five oceans including the most dangerous oceans on the planet: the Arctic Ocean and Southern Ocean. Posted on 15 Aug
Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, Day 9
Pip Hare's IMOCA Medallia has rounded Muckle Flugga After nine days of racing 21 teams are still competing in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race. All bar three of those teams have rounded St Kilda, the isolated Scottish archipelago in the North Atlantic. Posted on 15 Aug
Norbert Sedlacek Koch to set off on Monday
For World Extreme Sailing Record attempt Skipper Norbert Sedlacek Koch will leave the Vendée Globe pontoon, Les Sables d'Olonne at 10 AM UTC+2 for his project ANT ARCTIC LAB, to sail around the world nonstop, single-handed, without assistance through all five oceans. Posted on 13 Aug
Malizia Ocean Festival in Hamburg
This public event features highlights such as the christening of the new Malizia - Seaexplorer German skipper Boris Herrmann and his international team will sail to Hamburg aboard their brand new boat Malizia - Seaexplorer to christen the boat in Boris' home city and to celebrate the Malizia Ocean Festival. Posted on 11 Aug
Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, Day 5
Mzungu! leads IRC Two-Handed by a thin margin All of the fleet in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race are now racing along the West Coast of Ireland. Progress continues to be slow but the beautiful, rugged coast is providing stunning vistas. Posted on 11 Aug
Road trip!
The Atlantic coast is home to some of the most famous sailing areas in the world After a few years of very localised living, travel is opening up, and as a family we've made our first proper road trip for a while, heading down the west coast of France for a camping holiday. Posted on 9 Aug
Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, Day 2
Wind seeking in the Celtic Sea Pip Hare's IMOCA Medallia has raced 217 miles in the last 24 hours and is just over 30 miles from passing Bull Rock on the south west tip of Ireland. Rival IMOCA, Oliver Heer Ocean Racing retired from the race at 22:00 on 08 August. Posted on 9 Aug
The Ocean Race to be climate positive sport event
Aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75% for the 2022-23 Race The Ocean Race aims to slash its emissions by up to 75%. All participants in the next edition of the round-the-world sailing race are working together to make the event climate positive. Posted on 9 Aug
Leaders past The Lizard
In the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race The boat speed has ramped up in the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race with the two IMOCAs in the race wicked up and closing in on The Isles of Scilly. Posted on 8 Aug
Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland start highlights
The international fleet got away for the non-stop 1,805-mile race without incident The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race started from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line in Cowes at midday on Sunday 7th August. The international fleet got away for the non-stop 1,805-mile race without incident. Posted on 8 Aug
C-Tech 2020 Battens 2 728x90 BOTTOMSOUTHERN-SPARS-OFFICIAL-SUPPLIER-52-SS728-X-90 BottomDoyle Sails 2020 - Pure Brilliance 728x90 BOTTOM