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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

“I really found the hunger to sail alone again”, Boris Herrmann is back to racing solo

by Team Malizia 30 Nov 2023 13:28 PST 30 November 2023
Boris Herrmann and his Malizia - Seaexplorer are off to a great start in the Retour à La Base solo race © Qaptur / Team Malizia

This Thursday, Team Malizia's skipper Boris Herrmann crossed the start line of the Retour à La Base race in the front row, and is now back to racing in solo mode on his Malizia - Seaexplorer yacht. The race will see the IMOCA fleet sail 3500 nautical miles across the Atlantic from Martinique to Brittany and is expected to last 8 to 10 days.

What a start! After a year of crewed and double-handed races, Team Malizia's skipper Boris Herrmann has kicked off his first solo race of the season with a bang. At 12:00 pm local time (17:00 CET) this Thursday 30 November 2023, the German skipper was amongst the first of his 31 competitors to push his IMOCA race yacht over the start line of the Retour à La Base solo race. Having departed Fort-de-France in Martinique, the fleet is now sailing 3500 nautical miles across the Atlantic back to Lorient, Brittany, where many IMOCA teams including Team Malizia are based.

This year's Retour à La Base is the inaugural edition of the race but also the first solo race of the year for Boris Herrmann and many of his competitors. Only 11 days ago, Boris Herrmann and co-skipper Will Harris crossed the finish line of the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre in the bay of Fort-de-France in a strong seventh place. Today, the German skipper is already back on board his race yacht, and after a great start in the front row at the pin end, it didn't take him long to lead the race heading towards the iconic Diamant rock.

"I feel good today", said Boris Herrmann moments before he stepped on board his Malizia - Seaexplorer race yacht this morning. "I am looking forward to starting this race. I've really found the hunger to sail alone again. Everything has gone well this year. We have sailed a fantastic Ocean Race, had a good second half of the season with improvements to the boat, the boat is now sailing even faster than before. I feel well prepared and supported by an amazing team that has put in a lot of effort in the past months and I want to make them proud."

The German skipper added: "I think we have the chance to do very well in this race and I'm keen to go out there. The last solo race I did across the Atlantic was a bit stressful because the boat was still very new and we started The Ocean Race just right after, so everything had to go well. Now, we are kind of free to sail how we want and we don't have such a big outside pressure or stress. Some of our competitors have to do this race to qualify for the Vendée Globe next year, but I don't have to because I already sailed the single-handed Route du Rhum race last year."

Regarding what he wants to achieve in this transatlantic race, Boris Herrmann explained: "Today, we are 32 competitors at the start line and I really want to be in the top 10 when we cross the finish line in 8 to 10 days, and I hope to finish a little better than tenth. The most important thing for me, apart from the pure ranking, is the training aspect and to learn more about the boat and myself. To know where I stand, that the boat is reliable, that I feel good on board, confident and strong. This winter - before the season starts again in April next year with two further solo transatlantic races - we will have four months to build on whatever we learn now and build on it in the further preparation for the Vendée Globe. The Retour à La Base will be my first real single-handed race with this boat and an important first test, so to speak."

As the fleet rounds Martinique, they will have to navigate the many obstacles around the Caribbean island, with reefs, capes, nets, exclusion zones in their path. They will also have to manage currents and wind-swept areas created by the topography of the Montagne Pelée volcano, before heading into the North Atlantic. "The race is meteorologically interesting", commented Boris Herrmann before the start. "During the more or less first 20% of the race course, we will have northeasterly trade winds and we will be sailing northwards high on the wind, but still relatively fast."

The German solo sailor added: "Then, we will pass a high pressure zone and after that it will be really exciting: We will have three large areas of low pressure that will take us to the other side of the Atlantic, one after the other, with strong cold fronts, strong winds of up to 50 knots and 10 metre waves, if we were to take the direct route. Some competitors will certainly head south to find milder conditions and that is where the race will play out. The conditions we will see in the Retour à La Base are quite similar to those we expect in the Southern Ocean during the Vendée Globe and are therefore a perfect test for us."

As they race from the Caribbean heat to the European cold, the fleet will have to sail through two virtual gates. These have been put in place in case the weather conditions towards the arrival are too bad and the race needs to be shortened. In that case, the order of passage through the gate would become the final ranking.

With a big smile on his face, Boris Herrmann waved to the cockpit camera streaming his start live from onboard Malizia - Seaexplorer for his friends, family partners and fans: "Hi to everyone, it's a nice view from here, we managed to get away from the others. I'm very happy with the pin end start, now it's going to be a bit tricky through the light passage, I hope to sneak through it and catch the wind on the other side. A really nice start for many, cheers! " At the time of this publication, Team Malizia's skipper is currently in the lead with first position.

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: the Yacht Club de Monaco, EFG International, Zurich Group Germany, Kuehne+Nagel, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, Hapag-Llyod, and Schütz. 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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