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Team Malizia's Boris Herrmann ahead of Leg 5 of The Ocean Race - We Have Everything To Race For

by Team Malizia 19 May 2023 04:25 PDT
Boris Herrmann returns onboard Malizia - Seaexplorer as skipper © Ricardo Pinto / Team Malizia

This Sunday 21 May at 2:15 pm local time, Boris Herrmann's Team Malizia will set sail for Leg 5 of The Ocean Race in a 3,500 nautical mile journey from Newport, Rhode Island to Aarhus, Denmark.

The German skipper is back onboard his Malizia - Seaexplorer race yacht after his planned break in Leg 4, with a lot of energy and confidence in the boat's and team's chance of performing well. Leg 5 counts for double points and will see the teams return to Europe for the first time since the start in Alicante over four months ago. Across the Atlantic and around the British Islands, the fleet of IMOCAs will face both offshore and coastal racing, in a leg that is expected to last 10 to 12 days.

"Leg 5 is an exciting one", explains skipper Boris Herrmann. "It is an iconic, ocean racing leg, and there is excitement up to the finish. Currently, things couldn't go any better for our team and for the race as a whole. We are now in joint second position on the scoreboard with 11th Hour Racing Team, only one point behind Team Holcim-PRB so almost on equal points. We have everything to race for. Biotherm is not too far behind, they could come back into the podium game. Anything can happen, we need to stay focused and keep up the good work."

Boris Herrmann will be joined by Yann Eliès, who is replacing Nico Lunven as navigator. The French sailor jumped in for injured Herrmann in Leg 2. "Yann and I actually never sailed together", notes the German skipper. "I am very excited to have him onboard, he brings a great amount of experience to the team." The crew is completed with co-skippers Will Harris (GRB) and Rosalin Kuiper (NED), as well as onboard reporter Antoine Auriol (FRA/GER), the three of them having sailed all the legs since the start of The Ocean Race. Between the sailors, Team Malizia's crew has done 51 transatlantic crossings so far.

"I am taking over the navigator and weather forecasting role", adds Yann Eliès. "Nico did an excellent job so far so there is for sure a little bit of pressure. But I have crossed the Atlantic over 20 times, less often towards Europe, but still, I know the way quite well. As for Boris, Will, and Rosie, they know the boat extremely well. Each time they sail, the boat goes faster. The team is really on a positive curve, which makes me even more excited to reunite and sail with them."

Regarding the chances of performing well in the upcoming leg, Boris Herrmann comments: "The next leg has the highest statistical chance for strong waves and winds, and that's where we are definitely stronger than other teams. I kind of like that the next leg has double points and I am quite confident that we can perform well and get a good overall result." Co-skipper Will Harris who has been the leader onboard twice in this race adds: "We launched the boat less than a year ago and are already at a top level with it, that's really great."

After leaving Newport, the crew will be in for a bumpy ride. "For the first part, we will have to deal with the local effects created by the warm Gulf Stream", explains Yann Eliès. "It is a fairly strong current that runs along the coast and tends to change the weather forecasts, which are never that good or accurate in these areas." Will Harris adds: "That is where the North Atlantic low-pressure systems start to form, and ideally, you would try to pick up one of these storms and ride away across the Atlantic over the top of England."

Along the way, the fleet will pass Newfoundland, where it will be cold and foggy. "Then comes the ice gate, an exclusion zone imposed by the race organisers and where we are not allowed to navigate in order to avoid icebergs", further explains Yann Eliès. "We will probably go very far north, to 60 degreesN, not far from Iceland, with daylight lasting 20 hours or more at this time of the year. Once we are past the north of Scotland, we will have more coastal sailing, with quite a few oil platforms and wind farms to avoid." Boris Herrmann concludes: "Finally, we will be coming into my home waters of the Baltic Sea! This leg has a lot of variations and it will be a fast-rhythm sprint across the Atlantic."

"We sailed 80% of the miles but there are still 45% of the points up for grabs", says co-skipper Rosalin Kuiper. "We are super hungry, everyone is feeling this energy. With downwind racing, it could be our leg, we know our boat is quick. We are very keen to go and send it. I am also very much looking forward to sailing to Europe. It has been a big adventure around the world but the European waters are the ones I know the best, and I am excited to be sailing home very soon."

The stopover in Newport has been one of the shortest so far, but Malizia - Seaexplorer had almost no issue when she arrived in second position at the end of Leg 4 nine days ago. The sailors took a few days off to rest while the technical team did a short refit with the boat in the water and focussed on performance analysis. Other teams were not as lucky having dismasted in the previous leg. Team Holcim-PRB is now back in the water in Newport with a new mast, and Guyot environnement - Team Europe has made it to safe harbour and is making a plan on if and how they could rejoin the race in Europe.

Before the Leg 5 Start on Sunday, the fleet of IMOCA yachts will race in Saturday's In-Port race. Although the points of the In-Port Racing Series do not count in the overall race scoreboard, they are still important as they work as a tie-breaker mechanism. The Newport In-Port race starts this Saturday 20 May at 2:10 pm local time (20:10 CEST).

Team Malizia's A Race We Must Win - Climate Action Now! mission is only possible due to the strong and long-lasting commitment from its seven main partners: Hapag-Lloyd, Schütz, the Yacht Club de Monaco, EFG International, Zurich Group Germany, Kuehne+Nagel, and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company. These partners band behind Team Malizia to support its campaign, each of them working towards projects in their own field to innovate around climate solutions.

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