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Will Harris: Herrmann using all his experience from The Ocean Race to good effect in The Transat CIC

by Ed Gorman / IMOCA Globe Series 6 May 08:35 PDT 6 May 2024
Malizia - Seaexplorer during the Transat CIC © Ricardo Pinto / Malizia - Seaexplorer

All that experience in last year's The Ocean Race is paying off for the German Malizia-Seaexplorer skipper, Boris Herrmann, who has climbed to second place in The Transat CIC with just over 100 nautical miles to sail.

According to Will Harris, Herrmann's longtime co-skipper, who has been watching this compelling contest unfold over the last eight days from onshore, the German's sailor's performance underlines his ability to get the most out of the 2022-vintage VPLP-designed foiler, especially in the closing stages of a race.

"The thing that The Ocean Race was really good for was boat-on-boat conditions - in every leg we seemed to come in with the entire fleet, fighting for those last 200 miles to get to the line first," said Harris. "I think doing that seven times in a row has probably given Boris a bit of experience on how to get to the finish line in these IMOCAs."

Harris says the team has got used to coming into the reckoning in the final stages of races, just as Herrmann has done over the last few days. During that time he has pulled away from the likes of Sam Davies, Maxime Sorel, Charlie Dalin and Yannick Bestaven, to be now just 13 miles behind race leader Yoann Richomme and on course for his best ever finish to a solo IMOCA race.

"We always seem to be a slow starter and then the 'comeback kings' at the end, when we manage to catch-up - and it was the same in The Ocean Race (when Malizia finished third overall). It's just a mindset when it's not finished until you cross the line."

But Harris also believes Herrmann has sailed skillfully in the moderating conditions along the mammal exclusion zone to the north of the fleet, picking his gybes well, getting the boat set up in the best mode for the conditions and making miles on his rivals with each one.

"It's been impressive to watch over the last few days," added Harris. "Boris seems to have found more energy than the others in the second half of the race. And I know he is going to be pushing right to the end to try to catch-up with Yoann and there's definitely some opportunity to do it still. So it's going to be exciting to watch the last few hours of the race."

Over the last few days, since taking the lead from Dalin, Richomme has looked the complete package and reminded us again that he will be a top contender for victory at the first time of asking in this year's Vendée Globe. Harris says that when it comes to the Paprec Arkéa team, it's a powerful combination of a hot boat and an accomplished skipper.

"I'm really impressed with Yoann as a sailor," he said. "He's got a fantastic boat, but he is a very good tactical sailor. He understands how to get through the different systems and also where his limits are with the boat and himself, so that is always going to put him at the front."

The other sailor who has caught his eye is Sam Davies, the veteran British skipper of Initiatives-Coeur, who, Harris says, has "been in the fight" all the way across the north Atlantic. "In these really tough transatlantic races, you always see the sort of depth of experience she has paying off towards the second half of races. I am hoping she can hold on for a top-three finish in this one," he added.

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