Herrmann lead Malizia to first stage victory
After almost 35 days of racing and a battle at loggerheads with Holcim-PRB, Team Malizia, led by Boris Herrmann and his cosmopolitan crew, won the 3rd leg of The Ocean Race in Brazil. The boat crossed the finish line on the night of Saturday to Sunday, after 34 days, 17 hours, 10 minutes and 28 seconds, to complete a course of 14,714 nautical miles, the longest stage in the history of this crewed round the world with a stopover, which linked Cape Town (South Africa) to Itajaí (Brazil), via the South Seas.
A team triumph
“I still can’t realize that we have won this stage. We will still need time to take the measure of what we have accomplished, that the dream becomes reality. Dreaming of taking part in The Ocean Race, racing this incredible stage across the Southern Ocean, finishing it after all the problems we had at the start, and winning it! Four weeks ago, if someone had told me ‘Fix your mast because you can win this stage’, I would not have believed it and I would have replied that it was not possible, that we were too far behind and we couldn’t push the boat any further. But it worked beyond our expectations.” said Boris Herrmann on arrival at the pontoon: “It’s a team victory, and I’m very proud of what we have achieved”.
The German navigator from the Yacht Club de Monaco can indeed savor this first stage victory. Boris Herrmann and his crew (Will Harris (GB), Rosalin Kuiper (PB), Nico Lunven (FRA) and Antoine Auriol (FRA/GER)) discovered a few days after the start that their mast was badly damaged. After considering a return to Cape Town, they eventually had to spend almost two whole days carrying out delicate repairs in the open sea, with an uncertain outcome. “When I think back to that day, we had just started, we had lost a sail and damaged the mast, we really thought about getting back to Cape Town,” said Will Harris, referring to the difficult situation at the start of the stage.
This setback had enabled Team Holcim – PRB to take to their heels by hanging on to a depression to claim first place with a lead of nearly 600 miles. Malizia then embarked on a chase with a very uncertain outcome, gradually gaining miles.
As the fleet headed south of New Zealand and the southern depths of the Pacific Ocean, the teams closed within 10 miles of each other and traded first place as that they were along the ice exclusion zone. A standoff so intense that Rosalin Kuiper was ejected from her bunk and injured her head. With priority given to Rosie’s recovery, the crew was stretched harder, with a three-person shift rotation for the rest of the leg.
Facing a raging storm
The mano a mano continued: rounding Cape Horn, Team Malizia had a lead of less than 30 miles. The ascent from South America and the final sprint to Brazil resulted in a fierce battle between the two leading boats caught in a storm on Friday.
A low pressure system bringing winds of over 40 knots and terrible seas punctuated the night from Friday to Saturday. “It was the home stretch, you had to push, push, push to keep the boat straight and balanced… I have to admit I was a little tense”, commented Boris, who remained very focused right up to the final tacks.
The Holcim-PRB crew of Kevin Escoffier, winners of the first two legs, took second place and thus retained their place as leader in the general classification. Charlie Enright’s 11th Hour Racing Team and Paul Meillhat’s Biotherm are still in the race while Guyot Environnement – Team Europe’s crew was forced to retire.
The fourth stage will launch on April 23 in the direction of Newport.
Rough seas make stronger sailors. Tough times build greater people.Robin Sharma