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Career best second for Germany's Boris Herrmann on Malizia - Seaexplorer in The Transat CIC

by The Transat CIC 6 May 16:31 PDT 6 May 2024
Boris Herrmann on Malizia - Seaexplorer finishes 2nd in the 15th edition of The Transat CIC © Ricardo Pinto / Team Malizia

Germany's Boris Herrmann sailed to the best result of his 14 year IMOCA ocean racing career so far when he finished in second place on The Transat CIC on Sunday, the famous solo race across the North Atlantic from Lorient to New York which has its origins back in 1960 as the Observer Transatlantic Race.

It was a jubilant Herrmann who sailed his Malizia Seaexplorer across the finish line at 16:44hrs this Monday afternoon local time NYC (21:44hrs UTC). His elapsed time since leaving Lorient on Sunday 28th April for the 3500 miles course is 8d 9h 12m 31s, finishing only 2h 20m hrs after the race winner., France's Yoann Richomme on PAPREC ARKÉA.

While the result is an important indicator the potential of Herrmann and his 2022 launched VPLP design looking ahead to this year's Vendée Globe - and proves that he and his technical team have made the right choices, not least fitting new foils this past winter and improving the ergonomics inside his boat - it comes on an iconic race which with which he has an emotional connection to having first sailed the course in 2008 in his Class40 Beluga Racer.

It was at that finish in Marblehead that he met the enigmatic Italian race winner Giovanni Soldini, who he went on to sail tens of thousands of ocean miles with setting many oceanic records, an enduring relationship like that he has with Frances Joyon who he sailed with on IDEC Sport chasing the Trophée Jules Verne crewed round the world record.

Second place reflects an improvement since the Retour à La Base, last December's solo race from Martinique to Lorient when he finished fourth after suffering an ingress of water due to a problem with his cockpit drain. Of the top five or six competitors on this race Herrmann has sailed more miles on his boat, not least during last year's The Ocean Race, the crewed round the world race on which Malizia Seaexplorer finished third.

Most significantly the German ocean racer and his team can take some satisfaction in completing the race with the minimum of technical problems on a boat which he was still pushing to 100 per cent at the finish line.

Herrmann sailed a typically accomplished race, preserving himself and his boat during the first half of the race before progressively picking off rivals with excellent boat speed and positioning. Across the top of the second big low pressure, mid Atlantic, he proved happy to push his boat hard and fast, much more so than previously. And then on the 900 nautical miles final approach when the course was bordered to the north by a sea mammal preservation zone, he made good gybes, almost always making ground on the boats in front of him. And, whilst on his Vendée Globe he staved off loneliness and moments of self doubt with almost constant communication with land, this time he has stayed very much in his 'bubble'.

His arrival in New York tomorrow morning at Brooklyn Heights' One15 marina (the honor pontoon arrival is open to the public) will bring back fond memories. In August 2019 he made this crossing of the North Atlantic alongside his friend Pierre Casiraghi and the activist Greta Thunberg. And when the action and celebrations are over and well before he begins preparations for the solo race back to France which starts on 29th May, Herrmann has plans to indulge his passion for Jazz in New York and Newport.

Boris Herrmann after the finish line...

I had a 60 foot gunboat come out to see me

So Boris your bets ever IMOCA result solo, what do you think?
I did not even think it is my best ever IMOCA result, I am very happy and it is nice because in 2008 I did second in the Transat Artemis on the Class 40 that was many years ago and it is a nice coincidence the second time I do this race. I really enjoyed this race and I think it is a great sign for the Vendée Globe.

What made the difference this time?
I did not have too many technical problems which slowed be down, I had some but they were not too much to deal with and there was a constant possibility to sail decently fast with this boat which is really good in waves and we had waves all the way along the course. And so for me on this boat it was maybe a little easier to do this race. I did not get stressed too much. It really passes over the sea well and we had so much sea state all the way, choppy and difficult seas, The boat is just fast in these conditions.

You were much quieter and in your bubble apparently?
I guess in the first week in the Vendée it is very much the same. It takes a week to be in tour routine, to get a sleep pattern, it takes a week and so usually I am quieter than on the Vendée as well. It was tense, it great racing with the most immense plateau of singlehanded IMOCAs, and so a really nice all the way. I nearly always had a companion on AIS to match myself against and I was very motivated push to stay in the match and keep up. I was in a nice racing mood. I was not worried by loneliness.

What problems did you have?
I ripped the mainsail, that was my fault. When you reef that can catch water that happened, it was quite a big rip, 1m 10 on the leech and that took me half a day to repair it. And I had some gear coming off the back, screws coming out and some antennas coming off and so that took time to find bigger screws and put them back on. Apart from that it went well, the boat was well prepared.

And you feel this is a good test for the Vendée Globe?
I think this race is an excellent test for the Vendée Globe, I pushed to the boat to its limits and that gives me confidence in the boat and myself, these objectives were the main thing the sports result is a bonus. The thing was to find the confidence.

And the new foils give a speed boost as expected?
I think the new foils are good, they are fast. I am not using them all the time at maximum, a lot of the time at just 80 per cent or 90 per cent... for sure they give me a bonus. We also needed foils as spares and the old ones are still valid, I don't think the foils are very different we have progressed generally with the boat, it is not just the foils.

How are you physically and mentally?
Physically I feel pretty good and mentally very good. I am surprised about that but I really was in quite a relaxed state of mind a lot of the time, the ergonomy works so well for me now. I feel part of the boat, I can see well and have a lot space. I had many enjoyable moments on this race.

You made some gains down the exclusion zone gybing?
The gybes worked out OK. But to be fair I think everyone was struggling with the mechanics of the sailing because we were a bit overpowered and gybing was not easy, I heard that from the others. The current and the water temperatures had a big influence on the wind pattern and not always to what the routing suggested, in fact the routes seemed a lot different sometimes. We had to be a but more spontaneous.

The winner Yoann was complimentary about your race and your boat speed?
That's very nice of him but the same for him, he sailed very well and winning two races is very dominant, one of the most impressive performances in the fleet. We were closing in but I did not have much chance to really get into him, but it was nice to have similar speeds and I was very happy. The boat is very good.

The race was the race you now and love, right up to its reputation?
I think it was full on Transat as we know it, the low pressures, the fog, the cold, all of it. The sea state over the Grand Banks, a great test for the Vendée Globe, so much more challenging than a race to the tropics! What are you looking forwards to I love New York so much. I spent a lot of time here with Giovanni Soldini back in the day. I have great memories. And I am looking forwards to all coming in together.

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