Boris Herrmann at the Ocean Race: on the fast track to Gibraltar

Dhe “Highway” to Gibraltar offers several fast lanes. Just before the start of the Ocean Race, Rosalin Kuiper from the “Malizia” team was certain that whoever found the fastest route south of the Mediterranean would also win the first stage. The 27-year-old Dutch ocean sailor takes the ascent on the same “highway” while still waving on deck and to the sound of the classic “Don’t stop me now” by rock band Queen. Sail out of Alicante harbor in glorious sunshine and past around 50,000 spectators lining the beach and promenade.

But the party is quickly over – for Kuiper, his crew and the other four teams on their high-tech 18-meter yachts. Just beyond Alicante Bay, the Imoca class boats soar above the water on their wing-like foils. Each wave that hits the yacht shakes the crew. Glimpses of the tracker, weather data and autopilot mean that tactics and course are regularly discussed. Winds of up to 60 kilometers per hour mean that only the hardiest can sleep the first night on the high seas. Participants quickly learn what it’s like to be part of one of the toughest sailing races in the world. world.

madness in the team

This Tuesday, the yachts cross the Strait of Gibraltar and enter the Atlantic. It is less than 2,000 nautical miles to the destination of the first leg in Cape Verde – a fraction of the 32,000 nautical miles (nearly 60,000 kilometres) of regattas around the world. The short “pit stop” on the archipelago in the Atlantic should end without major repairs or provisions, next Wednesday we will continue to Cape Town.

Stunning view of the high seas: Skipper Boris Herrmann


Stunning view of the high seas: Skipper Boris Herrmann
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Image: Antoine Auriol | Malizia Team

Meanwhile, the skipper of “Malizia” Boris Herrmann dips into his psychological bag from the start of the regatta: for the planned 22-day trip to Cape Town, his crew would have packed enough food for just 18 days. To save weight and make the boat a few knots faster? “I said last week that there are positive madmen in the other teams who only know how to give their all. Apparently we also have this kind of madness in our team, “said the Hamburger before the start. departure.

Herrmann declared victory in the general classification as a goal for Malizia, he notably had a new yacht built for the Ocean Race, whose hull is significantly rounder than that of the boats in the competition. At the start of the second day of the regatta, “Malizia” is in the lead – but then chooses a course further south than the competition and falls back to third place for the moment.

Astronaut Tips

The role of the great favorites of the Ocean Race with Charlie Enright and Kevin Escoffier is nevertheless filled by others. The American Enright is taking part in the Ocean Race for the third time. With his “Vestas 11th Hour Racing Team”, which he formed very early on, he spent most of his time preparing intensively for the regatta. The yacht “Vestas” was the only participating boat that was designed and built exclusively for team use in the Ocean Race.

It therefore impresses with a number of technical and architectural features which, according to experts, could be decisive in the end. Enright, 38, also sought advice from a former astronaut, Nicole Stott. Both spoke of the comparable mental and physical stress of a space mission and the grueling competition on the seven seas.

Most Dramatic Experiences

The Frenchman Escoffier, who leads the “Holcim” team under the Swiss flag, has already won the Ocean Race with the Chinese team “Dongfeng” in 2018. The 42-year-old father is one of those sailors who has already lived the most dramatic experiences on the high seas: during the last Vendée Globe – a solo regatta that circumnavigates the world non-stop – Escoffier’s yacht broke up south of Africa in rough seas at the Center in part when she hit a wave at the wrong angle at high speed.

In a very short time, Escoffier must send a distress signal, put on his survival suit and climb into the life raft. After three minutes, his boat sank. Escoffier drifted helplessly at sea for hours until he was found by Jean Le Cam.

The photos of the person who had just been rescued, who, completely exhausted, sent a sign of life to his family on the yacht of the competitor, also completely exhausted by the search, went around the world. A memory that Escoffier, who is resting in Alicante and pulling on his e-cigarette, prefers not to be questioned. Barely 24 hours later, his crew was the first to cross the Gulf of Almería.

“Kevin is a character who ignores such a dramatic event. He acts with incredible foresight and doesn’t think much about things from the past,” Susann Beucke says of Escoffier. The woman from Kiel should strengthen the “Holcim” crew already in the second leg and master the difficult tasks up to Cape Town and across the Southern Ocean in her first major offshore regatta. She doesn’t let anything get on her skipper. “I feel even safer with Kevin on the boat. Simply because he overcame this emergency and survived – which was almost impossible. I would blindly trust him in a similar situation.

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