With just about a day to go until Boris Herrmann and his crew will presumably see land again, the skipper of Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco shares his enthralling impressions live from aboard.
The Atlantic Anniversary Regatta (AAR) describes it as “the epic battle of two state-of-the-art racing yachts and two German skippers from the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (NRV): Jens Kellinghusen’s sleek, all-black, Canting Keel Ker 56 Varuna versus Boris Herrmann’s semi-foiling IMOCA 60 Malizia – Yacht Club Monaco.” And with more than 1,000 nm until the German finish line, everything is still up in the air. While Varuna is leading in IRC Zero and on the water – just about 12nm ahead of Malizia – Herrmann’s IMOCA is current pacing through the waves at a faster boat speed.*
On Race Day 6, Boris Herrmann shares some live insights from aboard Malizia, about how the crew is handling their chase with Varuna and what the transition to reaching feels like:
“Malizia finally found her sweet spot. What she likes is some breeze from the side basically. Ironically enough, over the past 2500 miles we had good breeze but from behind, so we have only little advantage from our foils. Varuna seems to be a great boat, very fast downwind. We have been fighting hard with big spinnaker most of the way, lots of reefing in the mainsail and trimming, some difficult phases with the nose of the boat stuck in the short waves.
Now contrary to all the last week we have found our sweet spot. 110 degrees wind angle, small waves at an angle so that our nose doesn’t get stuck, Malizia is flying over the North Atlantic like a dream. We see 28 knots speed sometimes and average 22. Apart from some noise and bouncing around, it feels almost effortless compared to the difficult spinnaker sailing where we were always worried about broaching.”
“Not much sleep for the skipper the last 24 hours transitioning from the downwind sailing into the reaching with different headsails and configurations. From a short nap I zoom up to the cockpit as the boat suddenly capsizes literally. We had too much sail in a gust, with genoa and reefed main, she broached and turned all the way into a crash tack with the sails now backwinded pushing her down with keel and ballast to leeward. Walking along the sidewalls of the cockpit trying to sort out the mess. Not easy to get her back on course drifting sideways with no rudder on the new lee as the rudder usually is lifted up to avoid damage. Seldomly I get hectic, but this was such a moment. Anyway, all sorted without damage and back on track since.”
“Our all-German crew enjoys the transat so far, tuned into the routine and the days fly by. They seem to enjoy the quick learning curve and the feeling of getting familiar with such an unfamiliar, strange boat, the capacity of taming the beast is satisfying.
Today we see the sun for the first time since ages for an hour. The last days were all fog, dense fog, humid and partially quite cold.”
“Tomorrow we hope to be seeing Land’s End and then in 4 or 5 days already we should be in Hamburg and done with our transat activities. The race on the other hand is just about to start tomorrow, when coastal options, currents and capes will come into play. I expect this to be a tough one for us, with minimum crew, less capabilities of changing sails quickly and no daggerboards, I think it will be difficult to keep up with Varuna. We may see massive gains or losses due to the current and the race may well be decided with a tidal shift that we miss and they pass… well that’s after tomorrow. For now we push the pedal to the metal and keep trying to run things around… ah, there she goes 27 [knots] again. Time for lunch and another nap. Maybe another reef – we will see…”
*At the time of writing (July 14, 04:00pm UTC)